I was six when I realized I was unusual. On my first day of school back in my New Jersey hometown, I became instantly popular when they heard my Australian accent. I discovered that I was the only one on the playground who had been overseas and my new friends wanted to hear my stories about places they’d never been. Wonderful places.
Travel to every country? What counts as a country?
It depends on who you ask, I guess. Over the years my concept of what constitutes “a country” has morphed from being whatever was on my Replogle globe as a child to the list of U.N. member states as a teen to the now 321 countries and territories that are on Travelers’ Century Club’s list.
Although the U.N. might say some are not actually countries in their own right, Travelers’ Century Club decided to include them on the list because they are removed from the parent country, either geographically, politically or ethnologically. This makes sense. Otherwise, if only members of the U.N. were included, ambitious destinations like Greenland, the Azores and Antarctica wouldn’t count. Now, there are seven Antarctic regions and every emirate in the U.A.E. counts separately.
What counts as a visit?
Dan and I have had an ongoing debate as to what constitutes a “visit.” Should we count our 4-hour layover in Thailand or frantically running from one gate to another in Dubai? One guy counted a bus ride through Albania; is that stretching it?
After a lengthy consideration as to how long one must remain in a country or territory to qualify, TCC finally decided that even the shortest visit would suffice — even if it is only a port-of-call or a fuel stop on a runway. They reasoned that it would greatly widen the field and give travelers a better chance to qualify for one of the most unusual clubs in the world. Anyone who has visited 100 or more of the places on their list is eligible to join.
Guess I’ll let Dan win that one and cross a few more countries off my list. We’ll be that much closer to membership. 🙂
Realistic, or not?
We have friends who have set grand goals like visiting 30 countries by the age of 30. That’s a good start, but at the rate of one new country a year, it would be impossible to visit them all in one lifetime.
Unless you’re Methuselah.
Kick it up a notch to one country per month and it’s possible to scratch them all off, though it will take over 26 years to do it.
At an average of one country per week it would take 6 years and 8 weeks to visit every place on TCC’s list (not counting the country you’re currently in).
Though it might seem that few besides ol’ Mr. Methuselah could check them all off in their lifetime, in reality quite a few have managed to qualify for and join TCC. I suspect it’s because they set out to do it. Something like that is unlikely to be accidental.
Everyone has a dream. Sometimes, more than one.
The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark. So why not try for something really impressive, like 100 countries in five years? Or set a different type of travel goal. Here are some ideas:
- Set foot on all 7 continents
- Visit all 50 United States
- Do something in every county in your state/country.
- See every Canadian province and territory by train
- Visit all of Panama’s 9 territories and provinces
- Visit every country in Central and South America
It’s healthy to have dreams and goals and even healthier to work to achieve them. They don’t even have to be about travel. Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson showed that in The Bucket List.
What your goal is doesn’t matter, really, as long as you have at least one. For as Ernest Hemingway once said, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”