Along with what counts as an OE, (see Lauren's entry below), a topic we often discuss in what counts as 'well travelled'. It’s a pointless and completely arbitary discussion – after all, being well travelled in a Nigerian village probably means having gone to the capital – but it is an interesting one.
So, what do you consider well travelled to be?
Is it the number of countries you’ve been to? The time you’ve spent there? The differences in wealth and culture from home? How you travelled – package tour vs backpacking?
Lauren's come up with a simple formula:
Has been to at least three countries in each of at least three continents.
I’m much more of a geek than she is, so I’ve developed something a lot more complex. It’s the second-most maths I’ve done since I was 15 (the first was the test for getting into journalism school, which made my brain hurt), so I’m very proud.
It’s a points-based system that gives you more points for the poorer the country you have been to, whether you went on a tour or backpacked, and the length of time you spent there. This reflects my feeling that experiencing places that are different from your own home reflects how well travelled you are. The more different your experience, the more well travelled you are. For example, going from tour bus to ruin to tour bus to hotel doesn’t get you as close to a different country as backpacking through the countryside.
Let me know if you think it’s fair or unfair, and if you like, send in your score.
Here’s the formula:
First world country or tourist resort (US, Canada, Australia, NZ, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, European Union, Norway, Switzerland, Tahiti, Bali, Phuket, Barbados, etc): 1 point
Second world (Russia, non-EU Eastern Europe, Brazil, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, India, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, all of Arabia except for Yemen, the Pacific Islands – bar the Solomons and Papua New Guinea, the Carribean – excluding resort islands and Haiti, South America except for Bolivia,): 2 points
Third World (the rest of Asia and Africa, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Haiti, Bolivia): 3 points
Note: ‘Colonies’ such as Wales, Greenland, Hawai'i and French Polynesia count as separate countries.
Airport stopovers or a few hours in the Vatican checking out St Peter's don’t count.
Points for a country are doubled if you have spent at least a month there.
Points for a country are tripled if you have spent at least five months there.
Points for a country are quadrupled if you have spent more than five months there, and the native language is not your own.
If you have been to a second or third world country for four days or less, or went there on a tour, you only get one point.
If you want to make things even more complex, if you spent a significant amount of time in a region that was seriously poorer than the country ranking would indicate, alter your score for that country. For example, I’m told southern Italy is more Second World than First, and rural India is more Third World than Second.
Here’s my tally:
US (three weeks – 1 point), Canada (a month – 2 points), Germany (three weeks - 1), France (bit less than a month - 1), Netherlands (three days - 1), Belgium (two days - 1), Italy (a week - 1), Japan (a week - 1), Cambodia (two weeks - 3), Thailand (two days - 1)
Total: 13 points
Now, I think that for an affluent young Westerner, I’ve done a reasonable amount of travel. But I don’t consider myself well travelled yet. So my summary of being well travelled is:
Has been to countries worth at least 18 points.
I’d further qualify that by saying you have to have been to at least three continents and spent at least two weeks in two Second or Third World countries.