Where I’ve Been

“Hey Jenny, how many countries have you been to?”

It’s a question I get a lot.

And truth be told, there was a time (not so long ago) when I didn’t have an exact answer. 

I mean, sure, I could ballpark it. But I’d never actually taken the time to sit down and make a complete list.  

So after getting the question on a regular basis, a few years ago I finally sat down – world map in hand – to make a list of all the countries I’ve visited.

The answer isn’t so simple

It turned out to be a lot more complicated than I anticipated. 

Simple question, convoluted answer. 

For example, does Vatican City count as a separate country?  What about Gibraltar or Puerto Rico? 

And what if I only connect through a country and never leave the airport?  That shouldn’t count…or should it?

I needed answers. 

I wanted my list to be thorough, honest, and accurate.  And after doing a little research on the subject, I discovered the Traveler’s Century Club (TCC). 

The Traveler’s Century Club

The TCC is an exclusive club only for those intrepid travelers who have visited 100 or more countries. 

And since they take their membership requirements very seriously, they have developed an official list of 320 countries or destinations that are politically, technologically, or geographically different enough to merit inclusion.

Since TCC’s list is recognized as the world standard on the subject, that’s good enough for me.  (If you would like to read more about how they determine country/territory status and what it takes to qualify as a member, complete info can be found here.)

Why not just use the United Nations list of countries?

Sure, you could keep it simple and just base your country count on the United Nations “official” list of member states (193). And many avid travelers do.

But, let’s be honest, the TCC list is just more fun. Plus, it’s more detailed. And to me, more accurate.

Easter Island is a perfect example. Technically, it’s part of Chile. Yet, it’s an incredibly remote and unique place to visit. And the Rapa Nui culture and history are entirely different from mainland Chile.

So, in my opinion (and TCC’s), visiting Chile and visiting Easter Island are two very different things.

The bottom line: The TCC list accounts for territories that are unique culturally, geographically, or politically. The UN list does not.

Becoming a Traveler’s Century Club Member

When I did that first count in 2008, according to the Traveler’s Century Club country list I was at 63 countries.

A few years later, on a summer trip around the Balkans, I visited my 100th country (Bulgaria) and was finally able to apply for membership in the Traveler’s Century Club.

On Round-the-World #8, I visited my 7th and final continent, finally checking Antarctica off my list. And on Round-the-World #9, I became a TCC silver member (150 countries) with a visit to Malawi.

Today, after 10 trips around the globe, my wanderlust is still in full swing and my country count continues to grow.

Perhaps someday I will reach 200 countries. But for now, based on the Traveler’s Century Club Country List…

My current country count is:  176

Here’s the breakdown (I’ve linked to some of my favorite posts from each country):

North America

Central America

Caribbean

South America

Atlantic Ocean

Pacific Ocean

Indian Ocean

Europe & Mediterranean

Middle East

Antarctica

Africa

Asia

 Well, that’s it!  As of 2021, this is my current list of countries visited according to the Traveler’s Century Club list.  Now, what’s YOUR number?