TCC: When You Need A Referee.
After more than 52 years of independent travel on all seven continents, I often get the question, “How many countries have you been to?”
The answer, of course, is a forthright, “That depends.”
If I had done all my traveling in a few short years, the answer would be easier because less would have changed. For example, in 2012 I traveled in 24 different countries, and they are all still there.
But, let’s take Germany. I traveled in the country of West Germany, and East Germany, and after reunification, Germany. So have I traveled in just one country (Germany), two countries (East Germany, i.e., German Democratic Republic and West Germany, i.e., Federal Republic of Germany), or all three of them? Each was a country or is a country, so what’s the answer?
Or, I traveled from west to east through Czechoslovakia. I’ve also traveled in the independent countries of the Czech Republic and the Republic of Slovakia. One country, two or three?
I found the Travelers’ Century Club, now celebrating its 59th year and dedicated to the proposition that world travel is “the passport to peace through understanding.”
The TCC has wrestled with counting countries for some time, and has established set guidelines. If you follow their guidelines and can honestly total one hundred or more countries, you can join. Some may disagree with their methods—there’s always a different interpretation—but the TCC is an old, established club with plenty of members, and a well thought out rationale.
So, when I say I’ve been to 133 countries (and counting), I’m saying that as a Travelers’ Century Club member following their guidelines.
And, if you are curious, Germany counts as one, not two or three. The Czech Republic and the Republic of Slovakia count as two. Czechoslovakia doesn’t count at all.
Now, if we could only develop a “weighting” system. I’d sure be above 133 if I hadn’t traveled extensively in Mexico over 40 times and just as extensively in France for about as many times.
But really, this all misses the point to some degree even if it is fun to track.
Travel isn’t about the number of times or even the number of countries. It’s about getting out there, exploring the new, opening fresh vistas, and building a lifetime of memories. In both subtle and obvious ways, travel has changed my life for the good.
PS: If you want more information about the Travelers’ Century Club
Travelers’ Century Club
P.O. Box 7050 | Santa Monica, CA 90406
Tel: (310) 458-3454 | Fax: (310) 395-9511