As someone who has traveled around the world, one has to deal with the question of how one counts the countries (or states) one visits. As it stands, right now I am sitting in a Wendy’s restaurant just outside the airport at the capital of Curaçao with my mother and my stepfather, as we realized that the combination of the cost of storing luggage and the unpleasantness of doing a walking tour through Willemstad given our party’s physical limitations meant that we would be staying near the airport during our long layover between our flight from Paramaribo, Suriname and our flight to Bogota, Colombia. As is the case when one is in in-between spaces like airports, it is worthwhile to talk about the subject of what counts as a country one has visited, since the island of Curaçao itself has little to recommend itself besides high prices and gentle sea breezes, being a rather overpriced piece of Caribbean insular scrubland.
There are several standards by which one can count one’s trip. Without dispute, any area where one has one’s passport stamped upon arrival is a place that one can count as a place one has visited. For example, even though we are still in the airport area for Curaçao, we got our passport stamped. But there are countries one visits, and can even spend a lot of time in, but where one does not get a stamp. You can go to a European country, but if you travel to another EU country, you will not get a stamp for it. An American can go to Canada, and will not get a stamp in the passport there either. But if one changes planes in Port of Spain, Trinidad, you get a Trinidadian stamp without leaving the airport. If you go on tour in a country, you definitely visited it, but you may not have the passport proof of one’s travels, which is frustrating.
On the other hand, there are sometimes ambiguities about what counts as a country. Visiting a member state of the UN is an obvious example of visiting a country, but what does one do when one visits an autonomous territory of a country. Does Puerto Rico count as a country even though it is an unincorporated territory of the United States? Probably not. On the other hand, Curaçao has its own named status and like Aruba (also visited on this trip, but without a passport stamp), and is a constituent kingdom of the Netherlands joined in a personal union with the Netherlands and other Dutch colonial territories like Sint Maarten. Is Aruba a country? Is Curaçao? That depends on one’s definitions. My blog statistics count them as separate countries, but they also count Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Mariana Islands as separate from the United States, Svalbard as separate from Norway, and Macao and Hong Kong as separate from China. Should we count these as separate countries visited if one travels through them?
I suppose that is a judgment call. If one visits French Guiana, for example, it would not do well to say that one has visited France even though it elects members of the French and European Parliament and is counted as being part of metropolitan France. Here too, though, the constituent parts of France are counted as separate from France on my blog, and here too it makes sense to consider French Guiana or New Caledonia or French Polynesia as being separate from from the French mainland. Sometimes it is best to be specific about where one has visited. Sometimes one has proof in one’s passport, and sometimes not. My family counts anywhere you have set foot, but the status of the place where one has rested on terra firma is not always unambiguous. There are few straightforward definitions. With that said, I will comment on the countries (and various dependencies and autonomous areas) that I have visited so far:
- USA – born there, been to 42 of 50 states. First touched ground July 1981.
- Puerto Rico – visited on the way to Trinidad & Tobago in the fall of 1990.
- Trinidad & Tobago – visited for the Feast of Tabernacles in 1990. Visited again on the way back from the Feast of Tabernacles in 2017 and 2018.
- Bahamas – visited for the Feast of Tabernacles in 1992.
- Canada – visited for the Feast of Tabernacles in 1993 and 1994. Visited again in 2010, 2012, and 2018.
- Guatemala – visited for the Feast of Tabernacles in 1996.
- El Salvador – visited on the way to the Feast of Tabernacles in 1996.
- Honduras – visited in an accidental wandering by foot while lost.
- United Kingdom – visited for summer camp in 1998.
- Netherlands – traveled there on the way to United Corps project in 2000. Traveled there on the way to Jordan also in 2007.
- Ghana – visited in the summer of 2000 for United Youth Corps.
- Peru – visited en route to and from Feast of Tabernacles in 2000.
- Chile – visited for Feast of Tabernacles in 2000. Visited again in 2008 and twice in 2009.
- Switzerland – visited on the way to the Feast of Tabernacles in 2004 and toured at that Feast.
- France – Visited for Feast of Tabernacles in 2004.
- Italy – Traveled to during the Feast of Tabernacles in 2004. Stopped again in 2006 on the way back from the Feast of Tabernacles in 2006.
- Mexico – visited by cruise in winter of 2005.
- Germany – visited on the way to the Feast of 2006.
- Turkey – visited for the Feast of Tabernacles.
- Greece – visited on the return trip from the Feast of Tabernacles in 2006.
- Ireland – visited on the return trip from the Feast of Tabernacles in 2006.
- Jordan – visited for the Feast of Tabernacles in 2007.
- Israel – visited after the Feast of Tabernacles in 2007.
- Palestinian Territories – visited after the Feast of Tabernacles in 2007–Israeli-controlled areas.
- Argentina – visited for the Feast of Tabernacles in 2008 and 2009.
- Brazil – visited on the way to the feast of 2009.
- Hong Kong – visited on the way to Thailand in May 2011.
- Thailand – lived in Thailand from May 2011 to September 2012.
- Myanmar (Burma) – visited multiple times during 2011 and 2012 for visa renewal.
- South Korea – visited on the way back from Thailand to the United States in September 2012.
- Russia – visited on the way to and from the Feast of Tabernacles in 2016.
- Estonia – visited for the Feast of Tabernacles in 2016.
- St. Lucia – visited for the Feast of Tabernacles in 2017.
- Aruba – visited on the way to the Feast of Tabernacles in 2018.
- Suriname – visited for the Feast of Tabernacles in 2018.
- Curaçao – visited on the way back from the Feast of Tabernacles in 2018.
- Colombia – visited on the way back from the Feast of Tabernacles in 2018.