The Travel World Cup 2018

Alongside the Fifa World Cup 2018 I have conducted a little competition of my own that I called the Travel World Cup. Here I paired the same countries competing for the Fifa Trophy with the each other, but instead of playing football I was asking a number of people where they would like to go the most.

The rules were simple:

I show a number of people 3 pictures of each country, and they vote for which one they would like to visit the most.

For the group stage matches, I gave points like the following:

  • If a country won the vote with more than 55%: 3 points
  • If the votes came out between 45% – 55 % for each: 1 points for each
  • If the country lost the vote with less than 45%: 0 points

The number of participants varied from match to match but was in average 122 participants.

The same 32 countries competed within the same 8 groups as in the Fifa World Cup. The knock-out phase was also accordingly – however, with the winners of the Travel World Cup group stage instead.

Expectations

Of course there is no World Cup without trying to guess the outcome beforehand. Just like you have an idea that Brazil is a good football team, you also have an idea about which countries people would rather visit.

But to have more clarity I did a survey to see in which continents I should expect the best travel countries to be. Here I paired up the regions and asked where people would rather go backpacking.

Latin America 48 % | 52 % Europe

Australian continent 65 % | 35 % Central Asia

North Africa & Middle East 68 % | 32 % Sub-Saharan Africa

Basically this told me about which countries I should not expect to win. Here Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa clearly did not do well.

Any of the remaining regions I expected to do well. Specially Europe, that has some of the most “traditional” favorites for people who has not travelled much. For example, who haven’t heard someone say he would love to visit Paris or Rome or Greece?

My experience is that people are often very concerned with safety while traveling and believe most of what the media is telling about a country. And thus I thought the middle eastern and south american countries would finally lose. My top 4 expectations were: France, Switzerland, Australia and Japan.

The voters:

In average 122 people votes for every match. The maximum amount of votes was 179 for the Argentina-Iceland match. The lowest was 28 votes in the Croatia-Nigeria match.

Depends on where the voters come from it might have a big influence on the outcome. The distribution was as follows:

Where people are from

Another influential factor is how well traveled the voters are. Well basically the voters are you guys, and being on a travel blog already means you have some experience and knowledge about countries.

The voters were also very well traveled. In average, you guys have traveled 13 countries.

And the winner is:

Here it comes.. but if you are interested in more statiscs and analysis you can read the paragraphs after:

Winner is: ICELAND

Winners2

2nd place: Australia
3rd place: Japan

Power ranking:

  1. Iceland
  2. Australia
  3. Japan
  4. Brazil
  5. Morocco
  6. Spain
  7. Mexico
  8. Colombia
  9. Argentina
  10. England
  11. Switzerland
  12. Tunisia
  13. Russia
  14. Denmark
  15. Sweden
  16. Egypt
  17. Costa Rica
  18. Panama
  19. Peru
  20. France
  21. South Korea
  22. Germany
  23. Uruguay
  24. Portugal
  25. Poland
  26. Croatia
  27. Iran
  28. Belgium
  29. Nigeria
  30. Saudi Arabia
  31. Senegal
  32. Serbia

All the results:

Group stage:

 

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Brackets:

Brackets

 

Analysis:

The surprises

Let us have a look at the many surprises of this game:

  1. The biggest surprise for me was seeing Iceland win it all! Beating out great travel destinations like Morocco, Denmark, Croatia, Argentina, Japan and Australia. This was a surprise for me, because I do not find Iceland more interesting than so many other places but I guess the northern light has its appeal.
  2. The second big surprise was that France lost big time. It lost all of it’s matches but getting 1 point against Denmark by scoring 48 %.
  3. Colombia is one of the countries you always hear is so dangerous. However, it made it to the quarter finals only beaten by Brazil. This is a huge surprise and made me happy to know that people are not getting afraid of visiting anymore.
  4. Only 2 European countries made it to the quarter finals: Spain and Iceland. I thought Europe was much more popular.
  5. The 4 semi finalists came from each their continent!

Other things I personally found disappointing:

  1. All African countries was eliminated quickly. Morocco made it to the quarter finals, however Egypt lost early to Spain – in my world totally not understandable even though I love Spain!
  2. Iran only received 1 point. Totally underrated Iran!
  3. Serbia being the least attractive travel country of all 32.

Emotions

Well.. it is no secret that I have favorite countries of my own. You can check out my lists of favorite places I have been to and not been to here and here. Therefore, I have been really disappointed with some of the results.

How can Egypt not make it futher than the Round of 16? It should be the number one travel destinations based on quantifying attractions. I mean, the biggest amount of history and archeology – not only related to the Old Egyptians but everything from Whale fossils in the Sahara desert to the amazing Mamluk’s mosques. Also it has borders to 2 different seas and thereby many beautiful beaches. Not to mention the only remaining Wonder of the World – the Pyramids!

Also it is really hard to understand how Iceland can be more popular than culturally unique countries like Japan or enormous countries like Brazil and Australia. Don’t get me wrong, Iceland is beautiful and also has some unique natural sights like the geysers, however most of what you find there can also be found in Norway, Sweden and most interestingly Greenland. The last I would have seen win it all but not Iceland. In anyway – Congratulations to this small but extremely competitive country!

Why did Iceland win?

This got me thinking a little about why Iceland won. There is a statistical logic to it:

Europe was one of the continents voted very popular to backpack in. However, because most of the voters were Europeans they probably have visited most of the “common” European countries already. Iceland, however, is in the outskirts of Europe and is often forgotten and hard to reach. It is still Europe though, so very popular and the only country not visited so it got all the European votes as well.

Of course this is just a statistical explanation, but of course Iceland is a legit interesting place to visit. It’s uniqueness is undeniable and so it deserves to win!

Here are some of the comments for why Iceland was chosen in the final game:

“Iceland intrigues me so much. I’d love to go in the winter and visit the Blue Lagoon and natural hot springs”

“I chose Iceland because it is so much lesser known than Australia”

“Hard decision! But I have already been to Australia so I want to give Iceland a try”

“It just looks like an unbelievable country, those places you only see in TV”

“I want to see the Northern Light!”

How people perceived the question had a big influence

There is a big difference in how the voters perceived the question: “Which country would you rather visit?”

I have seen people from the country asked for to vote for it just to support their own country. Others have always voted on the opposite country than their own because why would you visit a country you live in?

Others have probably perceived the question as “which country is best to travel in?” so they voted for that even if they have already visited and seen it all.

It is hard to avoid these differences in how people vote. Let me know how you perceived it in the comments and if there is anything to do to ensure alignment in the perception for next time!

Next tournament?

Is it gonna be in 4 years? Or should I do it more often with other countries? Maybe some that doesn’t necessarily make it to the FIFA Football World Cup? Should I do this every year?

Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed it, enjoyed reading it and how often you want me to do this? Maybe never again? 😛

The best European capitals

Europe

Here is the list of my favorite capitals of Europe that I have visited. So remember the list does not included non-capital cities which Europe and also it does not include capitals that I have not visited yet.

1. London

London is my number one city in Europe and worldwide coming in at a 3rd place. I love to get lost in it’s busy hipster streets. This multicultural city has such a high density of hipsters and creative people that you will find gems on every second street you step your foot on.  Seriously, it’s magic is real and one of those cities I could see myself living in.

2. Rome

Rome is just a historical fist hitting you right in between your eyes. There are so many must sees in this city. It even contains a whole country within it – The Vatican. Exploring the history of the romans and the Christianity really makes you feel you are in the middle of something huge. This feeling is everything I look for when traveling.

3. Prague

Prague is the grown-ups Disneyland. With all it’s castles, beautiful bridges, colors and spires it really looks something from a fairytale. It is also a very underrated city that does not get much attention. In addition, because I am a fan of horology I just have to love Prague for having the Astronomical Clock. A must see!

4. Tirana

Maybe the most underrated capital of Europe. Tirana is the capital of Albania and is truly unique not only as a European capital but also different from the rest of the world. Here you can smell the after effects of the cold war and the brutal regime. It has some of the same elements of Berlin, but while you just get sad visiting the trains of the World War II and the cold war in Berlin, in Tirana you just get horrified. But Tirana is much more than just that – it is rich in beauty with it’s colored streets, mosques and churches and the mountainous background.

5. Bern

Bern is the most cozy capital of Europe. It really makes you feel you took a time machine 50 years back. It’s streets are old, it’s cars are old and it’s people are old.. very much in contrast to the rest of Switzerland. And it is beautiful! And there is a bear walking around. It really is one worth a visit – and the best thing of all: Huge discounts on swiss timepieces!

6. Madrid

Madrid faints a bit in relation to the beauty of the many other wonderful Spanish cities (and no I definitely do not mean Barcelona). But Madrid should not be underestimated. It has some of the most beautiful spots in Europe. The presidential palace is one unique sight. It’s food markets are also exceptional. In general it is hard not to have fun in Madrid!

7. Stockholm

Stockholm is probably the most beautiful of the 3 Scandinavian capitals although Copenhagen comes quite close. Stockholm is basically not a city but a bunch of interconnected small islands which makes it look gorgeous. Also it has a vast variety of very interesting museums – Vasa and the Noble Price museum to mention few.

8. Paris

Paris used to be my number one city in Europe as a teen. I have been there 4-5 times and still I love it. But my taste changed and the city changed. It is a dirty and rude city – now it is said. But it’s epic architecture is still beautiful and photogenic and you will enjoy sightseeing there a lot.

9. Sofia

One of the most charming cities I have ever visited. It’s mountainous background is breath taking. It is cheap and has a lot of delicious food. For some reason the Bulgarians don’t know how to cook badly. It is also the only city that has 4 churches for different branches of Christianity, a mosque and a synagoge right besides each other.

10. Brussels

How to make a list of European capitals without including the actual capital of Europe? Brussels is quite interesting and having signs all over the city in 2-3 languages really confirm the feeling of being in the heart of Europe.

What else?

What did not make it to the list? I have visited 10 other capitals of Europe. You can find them in the template-section by clicking here.