One of the joys many travelers delight in after arriving in a new country is seeing a fresh stamp in their passport. That common souvenir is a rare metric in terms of travel, so imagine they disappeared due to vanishing borders around the globe.
Say for a moment all of the borders around the world disappeared – would traveling for you be quite as fun?
Personally I don’t think it would take the fun out of traveling and with the lack of borders we’d find something else to count, even just for the sake of counting. I’m guessing that for many people who enjoy traveling, borders are a small guilty pleasure and I’m interested to hear your thoughts. I appreciate your comments and will share some of them in an upcoming post early in the new year.
[photo by: Chris Koerner (international border)]
Well, as we’re British and carry British passports, I’ve got to admit I was always a bit miffed as we visited different Western European countries and got waved through all the borders, sometimes without our passports being checked at all. And then we came to Turkey. Yehey. Stamps galore. Eastern Europe; a few ink stamps. I quite like them on a superficial level.
In an ideal world, everyone would be free to come and go as they please. No borders, visas…we’re allowed to dream. It’s the festive season! 🙂
I too have been waved through a few borders and felt like asking, ‘hey would you mind stamping my passport’? Never have as I figure I should enjoy easy border crossings when I get them.
No borders of travel visas would be great – but they can keep the stamps 😛
I actually would prefer that there would be no borders. I know why they exist, and I also know that if the borders were to disappear, we’d see a big wave of migration, since living conditions in our planet are not the same everywhere. But as a Filipino citizen, my passport doesn’t allow easy travel and most of the time, I need a visa to go to places. That is just a hassle. Why do I have to pay 85 USD for a Schengen visa when an American citizen doesn’t need it?
Borders can be a hassle for political reasons too. I have a friend who needs to go to India and Pakistan within the same trip, and yet he has to go to a third country first (Nepal) for political reasons instead of crossing the border between those two countries. So yes, I prefer them gone, but obviously that’s not the reality of things.
The fees do seem to vary widely. It’s interesting to consider that the absence of borders would make visas all together obsolete. With that cumbersome process (for many places) I can imagine traveling would be a heck of a lot easier and less expensive as well.
Good point regarding the visas. If there’s no border, then there’s no visa, and if there’s no visa, then passports would also be obsolete, since after all, passports have pages to affix visas. Then, all one needs is an ID indicating personal information! Just flash it to anyone wanting to see it and they’ll know who you are and where you’re from.
I agree with both comments on this one. I love the stamps and do find myself bummed when I visit another Schengen country and don’t get the novelty of a stamp but as Linguist-in-Waiting points out, border for political purposes have caused many problems.
The photos (like the one in the article) are always good fun too!
Without cheesy travel photos, travel would definitely be less fun!
Heh, I always make my British mates I’m travelling with jealous when we take a trip over to Europe. When they come out the other side of passport control stamp-less, I come though with my Australian passport, fresh stamp in page. 😀
Getting to check out a new stamp does make crossing an international border feel like more of an accomplishment. I can imagine though your friends look pretty sad while you get to bask in the small glow of each new stamp 😉
I actually am not that huge of a fan of the stamps because I really don’t love going through border control. It always takes time and hassle and detracts from the places I want to get to. I’m really excited that when we travel through the EU next year and are driving, we won’t have to stop at borders!
I always find it weird when entering an EU country and they don’t even look at the passport! What a contrast to so many other places in the world.
When my passport was stole in Vietnam the one thing I missed the most was the big communist visa sticker. Sigh, I guess I’ll just have to go back!
Sounds like a good excuse to me 🙂
One of my biggest travel dreams is visiting Samarqand and Bukhara in Uzbekistan, and as an American, I would sure love it if there weren’t any sketchy Uzbek border guards (and hefty bribes) preventing me from my dream!
I can imagine! Those are some unique destinations, how did they make it to the top of your travel dreams?
Hey, what a stimulating question!
The first thing that comes to my mind is that without borders I wouldn’t have to care about by passport like it was my by-pass battery! And I wouldn’t have lost a belt at the x-ray machines once entering the US because the custom dudes made me so nervous! 🙂
I can actually only see good sides of non existing borders, as long as culture diversity exists.
Affection to physical things such as border stamps is so twentieth century! 😀
Perhaps one day people will look back and see borders and passports just that way 🙂
Interesting question, but one that I realize I do not need to spend much time thinking about.
1. I could care less about passport stamps
2. Most of my traveling is in Africa where borders are a nightmare
3. Most of my traveling is in Africa where borders were arbitrarily established by people who carved up the continent with resources in mind.
In the words of Tiken Jah, “ouvrer les frontieres”
I also agree that people would find something else to count.
Just curious, any particular border crossing you’ve found especially difficult?
recently, ghana to cote d’ivoire. The story is here: http://philintheblank.net/2010/09/04/me-and-the-ivorian-in-the-stairwell/
That was before the current crisis.
So many borders in Africa are used as extortion points even when you have proper documentation. I refuse to pay money for “petit cadeaus” and all manner of imaginary fees. Usually this results in an unpleasant border experience.
Whoa, that sounds like one hell of a painful trip, I appreciate you sharing it here. The extortion and other hassles just seem to make what could be such a routine process excruciating.
Like most of those who commented I do love getting stamps in my passport and I like keeping a list of all the countries I’ve visited. But there are also a lot of challenges when traveling like going through passport control, getting a visa, etc. that might make it a lot easier if there weren’t borders. I would definitely keep traveling though because there are a lot of other great things about it other than stamps!
Most certainly – the stamps are fun but passport control usually isn’t!
I do secretly enjoy looking at my colourful passport with all the visas in it. The fact that I cannot go anywhere on a whim (having an Indian passport) makes things challenging, which I don’t mind because then it feels like I have worked hard for the holiday.
Crossing an international border does give me emotional rush, as if I’ve finished one journey and started another. Domestic borders are just annoying. In Bhutan for example, one needs to get different permits to visit different areas of the country. Indian citizens need permits to visit certain areas within the country. And to go to Israel from West Bank, one needs to go through a humiliating process.
I too find a sense of accomplishment of crossing an international border; it really does seem as if you’ve gone further than the physical distance would suggest.
I didn’t know about the restrictions within Bhutan and am not looking forward to the Israel/West Bank cross (will have to ask you about that this spring!)
My biggest disappointment is travelling around Europe many times and not even getting stamp in the passport. Mr G has a British passport so they just wave us in. There were times when I *almost* asked for one, like the time we visited Gibraltar. It’s not only great to see the proof and collect these stamps, but they serve as a memory jogger of the dates we travelled to certain countries.
Happy Holidays to you and yours, Anil. And a sincere thank you for everything 🙂
I’m too often on the fence about asking for stamps because for some reason I think it might be asking for trouble (probably imagined on my part!) Any specific reason you don’t ask or just to save time?
Glad that you mentioned it but passport stamps do serve as a good records, especially after a passport or two of travels.
Happy Holidays to you, Mr. G, and your family also 🙂
You’re welcome and thank you for all of your support as well. It’s been a pleasure watching Gourmantic grow over the past year and look forward to more. Your site is dangerous though, always makes me hungry!
Although it’s nice to get that new stamp in my passport, I don’t think the lack of borders would make the least dent in the fun of traveling. For me it’s all about the people I meet, and culture varies widely, even within a single country. In some places, I only need cross a street to enter a new world; for me that’s the fun of travel.
You’re absolutely right, international borders often do little to outline cultures which are so incredibly nuanced.
I would love a world without borders! That is because holding an Indian passport does not exactly mean hassle free visa procedures. I realize that its obviously not practical. But this kind of an Utopian world, (say if there were no inequalities in development and living conditions), would actually belong to everyone! I would love to be able to decide where I want to travel on a whim and actually be able to do it.
I can imagine, or at least standardized 90 days per country for everyone – now wouldn’t that be nice 🙂 Hopefully one day that will be the case!