The Country Collector type of traveller is one of the most recent growing type of travel style out there. Since going on my one year around the world trip, the number of people I’ve met who prefers this travel style is steadily increasing. It makes perfect sense because the cost of travel has steadily been going down over the years. Especially with the rise of Travel Hacking. In this article, I will be covering why these travellers do this type of travelling and what’s the incentive for doing it.
The 11 types of travellers I met during my travels:
- Activity Addicts
- Vegging Out
- Status Seeker
- Identity Seeker
- Digital Nomads
- Country Collector
- Sex Tourist
What are Country Collector travellers like?
As the name suggests, Country Collector travellers likes collect countries. Their initial goal is not depth but breadth. They want to visit every single country in the world for bragging rights purposes or to fullfill a personal mission.
Their eyes open wide when you tell them you’ve been to a hard to enter country. Most definitely, they will be bombarding you with questions on how you got in and all the logistics involved.
Some Country Collector travellers are also Specials and act stand-offish while talking about the number of countries they visited. And some are adventurers simply looking for the adrenaline rush of visiting off beaten path destinations.
And some just wants to visit all the country in the world because putting it off often times means never. What’s the point of getting to know one or two country really well right away when you can visit all the countries instead? How will you know you’re not missing out on an awesome travel destination if you don’t go to all of them first? At least, this is the mindset of a Country Collector.
What counts as a visit to a country?
Depending on who you ask, there are many opinions being thrown around on what counts as a visit into a country.
According to Travel Century Club (a widely recognized organization for country collectors), as long as you are inside the country, even if it’s just an airport layover, then it counts as a visit to a country.
Some people will say that you need to leave the airport; otherwise, it doesn’t count as a visit.
Most people would agree that if you get a passport stamp in a country, then it counts as a visit.
And while many people would be upset at this notion, simply crossing from a land border and leaving will also count as a visit.
Finally some purist will even argue that you must sleep overnight in a country or it doesn’t count at all.
Let’s define what the concrete meaning of being inside a country. A country has a line around it that constitutes as a border from other countries. If you go inside that line, you are inside the country. And in my opinion, as long as you are inside that line, that counts as a visit.
However, from my personal opinion, I would say that you should at least go outside the airport for it to count as a visit. Yes, being inside the country, even as a flight layover definitely counts as a visit. But, something feels dirty about using that method to tick off a country as a visit.
What counts as a country?
Most people would will simply go to wikipedia and check which countries are recognized by the UN. If you count the number of countries on the list, there is 193 UN recognized countries at the moment. On top of the 193 UN recognized countries, there is two UN observer states which are: Vatican City and Palestine. And, among the countries that are currently not recognized by the UN, there are three that most people would count as a country: Taiwan, Kosovo, and Western Sahara. Hence why when people make country labels that they’ve visited, they’ll say something as 193 UN recognized countries + 5 Observer states/territories.
However, according to the Travel Century Club’s list, there is actually 327 places they would count as a country and territory.
If you are a hardcore country collector, I think your goal then is to visit all 327 countries and territories. But, if you are the standard country collector, I think aiming to visit the 193 UN recognized countries + 5 Observer states/territories would be the perfect goal for you.
Travel destinations that Country Collector travellers go to
- All of them (haha!)
My opinion of Country Collector travellers
I’m definitely going to be biased here because I am a Country Collector type of traveller (the Adventurer type of Country Collector). At least, until I visit all the UN recognized countries and the 5 observer states and territories.
I like most of the Country Collector type of travellers I’ve met. And, I most definitely have tons of fun conversing with them about all the destinations they’ve visited. The planning process is also really fun and I love discussing how you many countries you can tick off in a 2-3 week time span for example.
However, I find many Specials Country Collector (except the goal oriented ones) to be very annoying because they try so hard to attach their identity to this endeavour. Then when you tell them you’ve been to a country they’ve never been to, you can see their face sink down in depression and jealousy. These people are really sad sight to see.
Tips for Country Collectors
- Use points and miles to significantly reduce the cost of flying to so many different travel destinations
- Refer to Travel Century Club to determine other places you can visit after visiting every single UN recognized country in the world
- Join the Every Passport Stamp Facebook group to talk to fellow Country Collector travellers and get real time advice on how to visit specific hard to reach/enter countries
- The younger you start, the better because your body can take more beating as you fly or take overland transport to so many different nations
- Take your time and enjoy the process because you’ll end up feeling empty once you actually achieve this endeavour
- Have a life outside being a Country Collector because you don’t want to just tie your identity to be that person that visited all the countries in the world (though it can certainly be a part of your identity)