I am approaching the end of my trip around the world. As I counted one week earlier, I have visited thirty-eight countries. For somebody from Canada and has been traveling for only two and a half years. . .that is a helluva lot.
Naturally after thirty-eight countries I have visited most of the backpacking and tourist staples. France, Italy, UK, Spain, Japan, Australia, Thailand, etc.
However, a couple of obscure countries are within that count and leave some of the well-known destinations out.
People think I want to try and visit every country in the world. . .truth of the matter is I have no interest in doing that. Only ninety-six people have done it, and it costs nearly $200, 000 to visit every country on a backpacking budget. There are a few factors why I would never do it other than the money:
a) Huge impact on the environment
b) To spend an average of just one week in each country would take over three years non-stop. Could you imagine just spending a week in Spain or Japan? I sure can’t. I already want to kick my own ass for doing Bulgaria in just the span of a week.
And most importantly. . .
c) There are some countries I am in no rush to visit.
Sorry Yemen, you are not on my radar in the near future.
Instead of picking the obvious countries people don’t want to visit like Afghanistan, Syria, Kiribati. . .I thought it would be fun to make a top ten list of countries that people love to visit but didn’t reach in my initial batch of thirty-eight, and most likely not touch the first fifty or sixty I visit.
So let’s begin the list of top ten most visited countries I (currently) don’t have a desire to visit!
1) PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
Population: 1.6 Billion people?!
It’s funny, really. I have been working for a Chinese company for over a year. I have been teaching Chinese children and interacting with Chinese families for over a year. Everyone knows I like my job without taking it to “nobody-really-loves-their-job-that-much” levels.
But it’s true. China is on this list. Why?
I had plans to go to China during my first journey to Asia but I scrapped it because every backpacker I met who had been to China said it was their least favourite country. No backpacker ever said they enjoyed visiting China.
They thought people weren’t friendly. They thought people stared too much at them. The language barrier was too difficult. Navigation was tough because of the aforementioned language barrier.
I have also met many English teachers who teach live classrooms in China. They say “the job pays really well but I don’t like living here. It’s lonely and you the smog only clears if there is a big international convention.”
China sounds like a place I would really enjoy if I stayed with a host family. It would probably be such a fun visit.
But visiting as a solo backpacker? I feel like I would fall in line with all of the other backpacking stories I have heard before. When nobody has a positive recommendation, it sounds like a place that needs to be delayed for now.
I love how the government is currently working on its environmental issues. When the smog clears, I think clean air would be a big motivator for me to quickly reconsider my position.
Lastly, as somebody who gets anxious in large crowds, a country of 1.6 billion people freaks the crap out of me.
Population: 250, 000
Canadians can always find too-good-to-be-true roundtrip flight deals for Iceland. Many of my friends have taken advantage of it. I have met people from Iceland too. They are cool people.
I grew up watching Magnus Ver Magnusson and Jon Pall Sigmarson showing off their feats of brute strength. It was amazing to watch as a kid.
Those flight deals I was talking about earlier? They really are too good to be true. Once you land, you will be paying A LOT for EVERYTHING in Iceland. Food, lodging, activities, transportation. . .it’s all expensive as hell.
You want sunny and warm weather? Ha. Good luck, my friend. Nearly every other country does that better. Iceland looks like the surface of the moon half of the time.
Oh, and you’ll need even more luck to survive as a vegetarian in the country.
Super expensive. No mass public transit to take everywhere I need to go as somebody who doesn’t drive. Bad weather. Cold weather. Cuisine that even locals hate. Isolated geographically.
Iceland just doesn’t sound like my type of place. I know the people are lovely and I love how it is currently run. Would I enjoy my standard two week visit there? Something tells me I would be bitching about the cost outweighing the few highlights I would have.
Does Iceland have Couchsurfing? Can I volunteer at a hostel?
Population: Over a billion
Capital: One of the Delhis.
Backpackers love India. I just hung out with a Swedish dude for a week in the Balkans who said India was his favourite country on a trip to Asia.
I love Bollywood movies.
My home province of British Columbia has the highest population of people from the Punjab province outside of the Punjab province itself.
Their women are gorgeous.
Some of their festivals look like a freakin’ blast.
Indian cuisine is my absolute favourite of any cuisine in the world.
Two things are holding me back like Tyrese:
a) The culture shock. India is frequently described as having the biggest culture shock to anybody from the West. Perhaps Bangladesh wants to step in here and say “hold my beer.”
Am I truly ready for that culture shock and when hundreds of millions of people can come up to me and speak English? I dunno, man.
b) Getting sick. One of my best friends from university is a travel vlogger under The New Travel banner and got swine flu in India. Another travel vlogger I follow is Drew Binsky and he was in an overturned bus where a couple people died.
Backpackers I meet tell equally insane stories but end it with “But I loved it!”
I am sure I will say the same one day. In the meantime, I will build up my backpacking EXP before I step foot into India.
Population: Just under 200, 000, 000?
The visa is expensive. Canada and Russia doesn’t have the best diplomatic relations. Backpackers say the locals can be as cold as the climate.
Russia is also a huge country. It is the only country bigger than my homeland. Riding the Trans-Siberian Railway alone takes something like a week if you never hop off. Russia sounds like a big investment.
This will be a common theme, but Russia isn’t known as a cheap country. Moscow is one of the most expensive capital cities in the world.
Does Russia have any nice beaches? Can you go anytime during the year and experience acceptable weather? Or would the climate be similar to that of Canada? I think I know the answer.
Judging by the stories I hear and the effort needed to be accepted into the country as a tourist, you don’t even know if backpackers are truly welcome upon entry.
I will be using this disclaimer a lot, but I know one day Russia will appeal to me. Just not now.
Population: 100, 000, 000?
The heart of Central Europe and perhaps the most well-known country people think when they hear the word ‘Europe.’
I have been to two countries bordering Germany. In fact, I have probably been just minutes away by train to get into Germany multiple times.
But I never went.
Lots of backpackers love Germany. Germany is practically a synonym for ‘beer’ in most languages. You can always find quality nightlife as a backpacker. The Amazing Race has visited Germany a countless number of times too. Germany has a very high English speaking country and is extremely multicultural and ideal for tourists.
Germany has a tiny stretch of beaches. Most locals have to travel to other countries and use it as their playground. Take a journey to Southeast Asia and Australia if you want to meet more young Germans than the homeland Deutschland itself.
Germany is such a stable country that I know I can go there whenever I want. I know the first half of the 20th century says otherwise, but I feel like Germany will be Germany for a while.
Population: 9, 000, 000
OK. Maybe Austria is the true heart of Europe. You can get to any region of Europe from Austria quickly. Look at how many countries it borders. Balkans to the east, Baltic to the northeast, Germany and Scandinavian countries to the north, riviera to the south, France to the west. . .Austria is a super convenient location.
Austria is known for Vienna being the most livable city on the planet. In yo face, Melbourne. It also has the Alps for wonderful skiing. It is an extremely stable country.
When you picture a stereotypical European country, Austria probably contains those images.
If the main sell are its museums and winter sports, I am going to be a bit hesitant to put it in the top twenty percent of countries to visit.
I am not resisting a visit to Austria–I just can’t go out of my way to put it into my itinerary. It doesn’t have a magnet for me to visit besides a bunch of Ahnold jokes.
Oh yeah, and apparently it is a very expensive country to visit. That’s big for backpackers like me. Anybody at the UN want to hire me?
P.S. My co-host from RTV Warriors podcast found Salzburg to be the most boring city he has ever visited in Europe. Dafuq you do to my friend Michael, Salzburg?
Population: 36, 000, 000
A lot of backpackers I know have been to Morocco. Spain was the first country I ever truly traveled to solo. I started at the southern tip in Malaga where I could see Morocco across the border. I couldn’t have been closer to touching Moroccan land. The opportunity was right there before me.
Two years later, Morocco isn’t even the first North African nation I visit–Egypt gets that honour.
I have been to Spain twice more since then and didn’t hop on the boat from Andalucia to Morocco.
So why have I been avoiding Morocco?
Much like Egypt, Morocco is a country which really goes after tourists. Backpackers who have been both to Morocco and Egypt say Egypt is a lot worse for locals hassling solo backpackers (an Australian guy in North Macedonia told me). Considering the extremes I went through in Egypt, it makes me shudder just thinking about doing this again.
When I was in Egypt, I stopped trusting any locals who came up to me by the end of two weeks. I was seen as a walking ATM to be manipulated by a percentage of the locals and that gets old fast as you always need your guard up.
Therefore, when I hear Morocco presents a similar level of aggression, and doesn’t contain that Ancient Egypt history I was addicted to growing up and compelled me to visit Egypt, I want to bypass Morocco for now. It also doesn’t help when it has recently become an increasingly unsafe country for travelers. I hope it goes back to its previous state soon.
Lastly, I loved Casablanca. One of my favourite films.
8) UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Population: 10, 000, 000
Capital: Abu Dhabi
UAE, or more specifically Dubai, sounds like a place to live rather than to visit as a traveler.
Hearing stories from young expats who teach and work in Dubai is super interesting to hear. It is something insane like 85 percent expats in Dubai. Dubai is essentially a world capital for the planet.
A local (but really an expat too–seriously, no true UAEians living within Dubai) tell me it is like you are living in a music video for ten years. Everyone is well off and is in this artificially created space. They have a ski resort inside of a mall in the desert! What the hell, Dubai?
I know Massari is Lebanese-Canadian, but I feel like he would fit right in with Dubai.
It is also super expensive as a tourist. Yeah, I think I need to be here long term to peel off the layers of one of the planet’s most intriguing countries. I can’t do it in a matter of one money-vanishing week.
Population: 8, 500, 000
Two words: Too expensive.
You sound beautiful as hell, though.
10) COSTA RICA
Population: 5, 000, 000
Capital: San Jose
Everyone knows I love Latino culture. . .and I love Latina culture even more.
So why is a popular Latin American country on this list?
Well, I am CRAVING a visit to Mexico. I want to spend a month in Mexico.
Ecuador has a brilliant clash between mountains, beaches, and cheap cost of living.
Peru has that Maachu Picchu thing and Lima.
Brazil has Amazon, Rio, favelas which entered my dreams as a kid when I dream of being an action hero, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, Blanka from Street Fighter.
Venezuela has that “my parents would freeeeeeeak out right now if they knew where I was” factor.
Guyana and Suriname have the obscurity factor.
Nicaragua fulfills my Survivor nerdom factor when picking spots to visit.
Belize has the German menonite community that makes me extremely curious to see with my own pair of eyes.
Guatemala has the humanitarian factor to it.
Honduras has the “it’s not as bad as everyone thinks it is because of the news–Nas Daily had a blast there.”
But Costa Rica? I see it featured on TV shows where rich people go house hunting for real estate, and I stayed in Egypt at the house of an American woman who previously hosted birdwatching tours in Costa Rica for decades. She is an interesting lady.
My birdwatching is currently satisfied from the cover of my Froot Loop box. Habla Espanol, Toucan Samuel?
So there you go! The top ten most well-known countries I currently don’t have a desire to visit! What are your most popular countries that make you go “meh, not right now, man.” Let me know in the comments below!