I think country counters are dicks.
I don’t care if you have Mother fucking Teresa’s heart and Beyonce’s swag, if you throw your number of visited countries down at me, I think you’re a dick.
Why? A few reasons:
For starters, da fuq do you qualify as a country?
The United Nation’s list of member states has a total of 193 countries. But Vatican City, while technically a country, is not a UN member state, so do you include that? And what about territories? Hong Kong and Macao are Special Administrative Regions of China. They are not included separately in the UN list, although they have separate political systems, and do not even use Chinese RMB.
Then there is the TCC, the Travelers Century Club, which has several more countries because they include separate territories. So example: If you go by the UN list, French Guiana does not make it because it is a French territory. But in the TCC, it counts as its own country (which makes sense because it’s in another fucking continent). The downside of the Travelers Century Club list is that it includes some places as countries just “because they are removed from the parent country.” This list counts Alaska as separate, which I completely disagree with and is really just blowing hella air up Sarah Palin’s ass.
The next question is how long do you have to spend in a country in order to be able to add it to your list?
Some people count a visit to the airport as a visit to the country. I think these people are twats. While I respect that you changed your USD $20 to Russian Rubles in order to buy a vodka at the airport bar, you at the very fucking least have to walk outside.
Do you have to get a passport stamp? North Korea didn’t stamp my passport but I was there for a week, nor does Israel (upon understandable request) or Cuba (for Americans).
Some people say you have to spend one night in a country. Fair enough, but what if you land at 11pm, sleep in a hotel by the airport and catch a flight out at 7am? You didn’t really interact with much of anyone, you may not have even eaten food - you just went to sleep. Does that really count?
My opinion (just my opinion, don’t lose your shit) is that in order to count a country on your list, you have to have at least one story from that place. So let’s say you have an 8 hour layover in Taipei during the day. You leave the airport to go ham on some dope ass street food. You meet a kind person at the street market and they take you to Eslite, the 24 hour bookstore. They tell you about their family, life in Taiwan, and you get to experience the book loving culture of the country (these people love books, it’s fucking gorgeous!) As you are gearing to leave for the airport, this new friend buys you a book, a memento of your short but sweet time in Taipei. You didn’t spend a night, you were there for under ten hours, but you have a lovely story. I think that counts as a country visit.
Besides the technical caveats, country counting is a dickish move. I have always felt that country counters come off as competing in some worthless contest. It’s like one person says “ooh yeah, I’ve been to 24 countries” and then a second person is like “Oh, well I’ve been to 26,” as though he/she must know more about everything than the first person. I believe that you can visit 100 countries and still be ignorant, judgmental, and closed off. And you can visit 2 countries and be soulful, open, and sensitive.
At the end of the day, you gotta do what makes you happy. So if it really diddles your clit to put a check mark next to a country on a map, then you do you boo boo. But please try to remember that it is far more important to collect experiences than it is to count countries.