My second passport is about to expire, with each stamp, visa, and crease a piece of my globetrotting history and testament to my passion for travel. Reflecting on my travel highs and lows, I started thinking of other friends who share my same passion, especially the few I know who are in the Travelers' Century Club (TCC). What is the TCC? According to the official club website and wikipedia, the Travelers' Century Club is a nonprofit social organization representing world travelers who have visited 100 or more of the world's countries and territories.
The TCC believes world travel is the passport to peace through better understanding of the world and its cultures, and I couldn't agree more. One of my most profound moments of travel came in Thailand, meeting people whose lives couldn't be more different than mine, but who shared the same basic desires; to love and be loved, to be connected to others, to discover what makes them happy, to grow, and to be part of something bigger than themselves. The realization that we are all more alike than different made the world smaller, burst open the bubble of fear and xenophobia, made places and people less scary, and made me want to do more, be more, learn more.
Below is the Travelers’ Century Club’s official list of countries and territories, a total of 325 as of Jan. 1, 2016. Although some are not actually countries in their own right, they have been included because they are removed from the parent country, either geographically, politically or ethnologically.
I currently have 42; although I travel frequently, my style of travel doesn't lend itself well to checking off countries rapidly. I love finding a small city or town, staying there for a week, and immersing myself in the culture; meeting people, finding favorite spots, living like a local. I will likely be old and gray if I am lucky enough to hit the century mark, but when I get there I will not just have passport stamps, but friends and grand memories from around the globe.
PACIFIC OCEAN (39)
Australia (1998, 2006)
Bismark Archipelago (New Ireland, New Britain, Bougainville, Admiralty Islands)
Cook Islands (Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Penrhyn)
French Polynesia (Tahiti,Tuamotu, Austral, Gambier)