What’s your magic number?
Mine’s 25, and I am looking to get to 35 by the time I am 40 in 7 years time. My Mum’s is 21 and my Dad’s is 28, yet my boyfriend’s is only 9. What am I talking about? Countries. Or Countries visited to be precise. It was at the half point on the Inca Trail last year, and after an exhausting days trekking, my tent companion and I were indulging in a little pre-dinner relaxation, tending to blisters and catching up on our journals, when she asked me how many countries I had visited. I honestly had no idea, it wasn’t a list I’d ever consciously constructed before. According to my friend, ideally I should have visited one country per year of my life. At that point I was days away from my 32nd birthday. As I began listing, I was sure I’d been lucky enough to have taken one trip abroad most years, but to different countries each time, I didn’t think so? Damn those family caravanning holidays to France every Summer, they were going to damage my tally for sure. Thankfully, everyone can claim they have visited one country as where you were born or live counts for one. In terms of definitions, we are using the list of sovereign states (check out Wikipedia), so eager as I was to subdivide the United Kingdom into its 4 parts of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, this was not within the rules. However it does mean that places you might not even have thought of qualify, so if you have ever been to the south of France and visited Monaco, then as a the latter is a principality, that means you get 2 for the price of 1. What a bargain. Also, ever been to Rome? Did you go to the Vatican City? Another double whammy right there my friend.
The only other rule is to qualify what visiting a country means. Any place you fly to simply to connect for another flight and therefore never setting foot out of the airport, doesn’t count. So I can kiss goodbye to China after a lay over in Hong Kong en route to Australia, and also Guatemala after flying from Costa Rica to the US last year. The only other pre-requisite is either that you have spent one night in that country, or visited it for the purposes of a day trip. I thank my adventurous spirit for making me take a random day trip to Uruguay whilst I was in Buenos Aires last year and also for wanting to see Iguazu Falls from the Brazilian side as well as the Argentinean side. For the record, I think they are better from the Argentinean side, but who cares, it bumped me up one.
Once you have compiled your list you can begin to spot the gaps. I’m woefully low on Asian and African countries and for someone who has lived in the UK for most of my life, I feel like I probably should have a better list of European destinations than I do. For now, I’m residing in Toronto, which puts me in a reasonably good position to start ticking off some more Central American and Caribbean destinations. It’s funny how once you know your list, your travelling plans become governed by it. I find myself putting off a trip to Boston or a repeat visit to New York, because I’ve already been to the USA. I’m desperate to visit Rome and Florence, yet I won’t allow myself to until I have cross some more places off the list.
So what does your list look like? Who has the highest number? Let us know your magic number and what plans you have next to bump it up.
1. United Kingdom
9. New Zealand
24. Costa Rica
25. Czech Republic
Written by: Vicky Fellowes
Vicky writes for dinner plate diaries where she blogs about her food adventures from around the world.