404 Count: Children & Bags + Learn Numbers

Count: Children & Bags + Learn Numbers


I’m loosely following the theme of “the A to Z’s of family travel” for this challenge. I was kind of stuck on what to write about for C, though. So, I turned to my husband and asked him. His response? Count your children before you get off the train.

We only have two children. Two children that I’m leaving him with while I head off to London for a mom’s getaway next week.

I’m worried.

But, he does have a point.

No – counting children is not an A-Z of family travel, but learning to count in the language of the place you visit is.

This is a basic thing that kids can learn at a very young age. Something they’ll be able to use at almost every shop and site they visit. Something that will give them more of a connection to the place. Something they’ll likely remember when they get back home.

Counting in a foreign language: More than words

And counting goes far past actually saying the numbers.

In the US we show our number signs by starting with the index finger for one, add the middle finger for two, etc.

In Europe we show numbers by starting with the thumb for one and moving down the line. (Remember that scene in Inglorius Basterds when the guy, pretending to be German in a flawless accent, gets called out because he uses the wrong gesture to signify two beers? This stuff is important.)

In China, finger counting is the same as the US from 1-5, but then switches dramatically. Here’s a photo to show the basic method. There are some differences depending on where in China you happen to be, so do your research before committing to this example:


This makes me wonder, what methods to other countries use when they want to count to 10.

Side note:

My husband also wanted to point out the importance of counting your luggage before you leave a train.

Now head on over to Have Blog Will Travel. They’re also participating in the A to Z Challenge, focusing on BC, Canada. (What method of finger counting do Canadians use?)

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  1. Hmmm interesting. Counting is something I feel like I have to do over and over and over when we travel. I have only 1 more than you, and it seems throwing that 1 more kid into the mix complicates everything. Three piles of outfits, three sets of pjs, one as a backup, three pairs of shoes, etc. etc. etc. It’s a pain in the rear. Part of me longs for the day they pack themselves- but that means they’re probably not going to want to travel with us in the first place!

  2. Love the mention of that scene in Inglorious bastards, that’s a great scene!…Funny about counting the kids…Have a great trip to London and happy belated birthday!! 🙂

  3. I’m getting that your husband is the “counter” of the family. I love this…in Japan it’s even different! Love it. Great C for the challenge!

  4. Love that you tie the way you count with the different places you go. I found myself counting people I’m traveling with too (no, I don’t have kids)…maybe it’s from working at summer camps and constantly having to count the kids on field trips haha

  5. Ann, These are all good tips, even if you have adult children now, like me! Are you living in Germany now? I’m curious where you are!

  6. Thanks so much for the shout out Ann! In Canada we rely on two hands when counting over 5, nothing as cool or interesting as the method above. I love the new things like this you pick up while traveling. It just goes to show how enriching travel is!

  7. Great tips here! I always find it important to learn numbers in other languages prior to going there because you never know what situations you may get into. You can always of course make an attempt to converse with other folks using different means – I am sure we all have our own imaginative ways but as Calli accurately stated above, it shows exactly what types of things you can pick up when you are wandering round the world!

  8. Fascinating. We learned how to use fingers for counting in the Philippines, and it was different, too. They start with baby finger, with back of hand turned toward person they are talking to. I never thought to do a photo montage of something like that. Great idea!

  9. Great insider tips. Just stopping by from A to Z.

  10. I grew up in Canada and always counted using my index finger first. I’m also of Chinese decent and have seen some of those gestures you showed above used, but never in conjunction with each other. When I moved to Europe, I quickly realized that “one” is the thumb and now after living there for a couple years, one for me is also my thumb no more index finger. How strange I’ve been reconditioned! Great post & thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler! See you next week 🙂

  11. I had zero idea that this was the case – man, I must live under a rock. It seems far more complicated than ‘my’ way. Good luck finishing the A-Z and thanks for linking up with us this week for #SundayTraveler again.

  12. Very interesting way to count! Numbers 6 to 10 are quite different!

  13. I had no idea this is how the people in China counted with their fingers. We were just there in October. I wonder what I was actually telling them when I was holding up more than 5 fingers.

  14. We use that toe to toe method! LOL 😀