One of the advantages of traveling is meeting interesting people from around the world. When I was in Poland, during my five-month solo European journey in 2004, I met a couple that was also on a journey of their own, and we ended up enjoying a genuine Polish meal together. During this meal, I learned a bit about them and their travels, and they learned a bit about me and my travels. One very wonderful thing that they told me about themselves was their lifetime goal: they wanted to travel to 100 countries on this planet Earth! What a great goal, I thought! At that time, the couple had been to about 70 countries already!
This lifetime goal of theirs sparked my curiosity, and I wanted to know just how many countries there actually are in the world. I found an interesting article at http://geography.about.com/cs/countries/a/numbercountries.htm, stating that by most accounts, there are 195 countries; although the number varies a bit according to the source. There is even a link from this article to a list of all these 195 countries. So, this couple that I had met had set a goal of seeing about half of the countries of this planet!
I also wondered how far I would have to travel to reach this goal for myself, if I ever decided I wanted to try to accomplish it. As of March 2008, here is my tally, both from solo trips, and from travel with others:
United States (and I have been to about 37 of them, including 33 during a three-month trip in an R.V., and a solo excursion to Alaska)
17 countries during my five-month solo European journey, including Vatican City
7 countries during my “around the Baltic Sea in 15 days” trip
Iceland (a European country that I visited on its own vacation)
Canada (but do I really count that if I have only been to Victoria and Vancouver so far? sure, why not.)
Puerto Rico (but that technically doesn’t count because it is a territory, so I shall not count it)
That is a total of 33. Not too bad, but definitely way more to go. So, let’s see…how can I visit 67 more countries in approximately the next 40 years?
*I could travel to 1.675 countries a year for the next 40 years.
*I could visit one country a year until I retire, and then I would need to see about 42 countries during retirement.
*I could explore 3.35 countries a year for the next 20 years.
*I could go see 2 countries a year for the first 20 years, and 1.35 countries for next 20 years.
*I could take a trip to 5 countries every other year for 13.4 years.
*I could journey to 28 countries this year, and one country a year for 39 years thereafter.
*Or I could just quit my job and travel to all 67 countries now!
Oh so many countries, so little time. And the exciting part is getting to choose which countries I would want to explore. I guess I better start planning my next vacation if I want to reach this goal!
maps from maps.com