Most people travel to learn, discover and relax. You might be trying to escape to another climate, enjoy different experiences or taste unique flavours. Everyone travels for different reasons and has different goals while travelling.
A common travel goal is to try and reach every country, either in the world or in a specific region. And of course the question of how to count that is a recurring theme. Then you get to the more unorthodox tourist who wants to achieve something slightly more distinctive. Trying to go to every Hard Rock Café in the world is possibly one of the most common, while some will try to have McDonald’s in every country they journey to. Some will want souvenirs from each of these visits, some simply want a photo of the place, or themselves at the place, whilst others are satisfied just to go there with no momento. Some are bizarrely abstract, some seem difficult just for the sake of it, others are ridiculously niche, and yet others are completely achievable but just a bit funny.
Working in the travel business means we see a lot of fascinating travel goals, and meet a lot of different people with amazingly varied goals and plans.
Pharmacy in every country
This particular traveller, you guessed it, was a pharmacist in their everyday life. Having met quite a few pharmacists or chemists during my work, I’ve found them to generally consider their work a lifelong vocation, and more often than not, they want to talk about the ins and outs of their work more than people with most other jobs do.
No matter where they were, our friendly pharmacist wanted to take a picture in front of a local pharmacy in every country they travelled to, including North Korea and Afghanistan! According to her, they mainly all look very similar around the world, but of course there are little differences which she found fascinating. Considering there are pharmacies everywhere, it doesn’t take much time out or effort to achieve this goal.
Chinese meal in every country
Another great unique travel goal. In our emailing with this traveller before his trip to Turkmenistan, you could tell this person was sheepishly building up to a grand reveal. He eventually spilled the beans and let us know that he wanted to try and get a Chinese meal in every country he travels to. He said he found it really interesting the different variations and slight twists on what is a fairly common cuisine worldwide. Luckily for him there is in fact a Chinese restaurant in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, so we were able to facilitate his request.
His report back was that the food was quite bland and a bit on the oily side, which we weren’t surprised by at all. Of course the sheepish nature of his request was down to the fact that some can be quite puritanical about consuming only local food while travelling, and that to some his request of a Chinese feed might sound weird and even possibly rude. Others also might question whether it’s having a Chinese meal in a country where you know it’s not going to be even remotely authentic. We thought it was a fantastic idea!
Post offices, Postage, Post Marks
This is slightly more normal, but taken to the extreme, so to speak. It’s quite normal for people to want to collect stamps. Stamps tell stories, stories of what the country is proud of, moments in their history and even how much things cost in a country. Plenty of people are interested in old stamps, along with badges and other things like that, whilst some like new stamps. Often people that collect money are also interested in stamps.
However, one particular traveller doesn’t want to collect stamps, he wants to collect postage. It is not enough to just buy the stamps, they need to be affixed to an envelope or post card and sent through the mail, but in his own words, "it has to be legit postage - no sending cards to myself". Getting the post mark (the stamp that is put over the top of the stamp to show it has been used) is as important as getting the original stamp. The weider the stamp the better, but not to just collect as is - they're also to be marked and mailed just like all the others. Likewise utilising the post service is part of the experience, and he has a vast knowledge of how postal systems work around the world. Sending mail via postal services of each country he has been to is just as important as buying the stamp in the first place.
Fun fact: Of the 63 countries he's travelled to, Iraq and Somaliland are the only ones which he didn't manage to send anything from!
Everyone in the world knows Coca-Cola, it is almost everywhere and is even in places it’s not meant to be, like Syria. However, one guest we had on a tour of Central Asia had the aim of trying as many non-Coke cola beverages as he could find. There are some quite famous Coca Cola alternatives, including the Iranian Zam-Zam, Inca Cola in South America, and Mecca Cola in Saudi Arabia.
Examples we were able to provide on that trip included Turkmen Cola and Kazakhstan Cola. By no means was he limited to those though, with dozens of options existing. Personally, having tried a few of these other options, I usually just reach for the trusty product I know!
This is almost a given for anyone travelling – you need to pop into some shops to buy some basics. Whether it’s to replace your toothpaste, stock up on water or get some snacks for a long drive, everyone pretty much already does this. However, there are very few people in the world in which exploring local supermarkets become one of the highlights of the trip.
In this instance, a local supermarket was usually first port of call. The strange thing is that it didn’t extend to markets, it was very specifically supermarkets. Markets, he explained, are lovely and great, but they don’t really give you the same look into the everyday lives of local people. After all it is 2022 and most people around the world do their shopping in supermarkets.
Weirdest toilet in every country
This obsession isn’t for someone with a weak stomach, but trying to find the worst toilet is probably the weirdest travel goal going. We all do it, we all use them, and we probably spend a disproportionate amount of time in our favourite little room, so this person likes to document the weird and strange toilets they come across. It’s not always gross toilets, sometimes it might be unusual, colourful or downright odd toilet experiences that this person takes photos of.