based club for anybody who can say they have visited one hundred countries, and pay the necessary dues ($100 initiation fee
, plus $50/$40/$30 a year for US residents/non-US residents/spouses of US residents). Obviously these people have money to blow. Website: www.travelerscenturyclub.org/
Membership provides a monthly magazine (The Centurion) and a few luncheons a year ($50 for members), allowing you to hobnob with other well-travelled people and compete to say who has been to the most isolated or challenging parts of the world. Tellingly, one issue of The Centurion contains a message passed on from the US Air Force not to bug them about getting permission to land at Wake Island.
The club actually defines 317 places as "countries". Smaller territories that are removed from the larger mainland of their own state "either geographically, politically or ethnologically" are considered countries in their own right. So Alaska, The Isle of Mann, Tasmania and the European part of Turkey are considered countries. This leads to some contention as to what constitutes a country (Palestine is in, but not the Gaza Strip or West Bank), so the club has defined some guidelines. These arguments probably are a welcome break from all those slide shows members show each other.
I first heard about the club when I was fourteen from a friend of my father, and I thought that it would be kinda cool. So at that point it became my mission in life to visit one hundred countries. For almost twenty years I have arranged my travel to ensure I make as many border crossings into new countries as possible. I managed to notch up four countries (Finland and the Baltics) in twenty four hours by getting the right bus/boat/bus connections. Just think - I could have been bored out of my brains touring Orthodox churches in the Ukraine, but instead I used my time wisely. In 1999, thanks to the effort of all those activists and whatnot, East Timor was liberated and I was able to hop over from Darwin and scratch another country. In 2002 I crossed the US border at San Ysidro and spent a night in Ensenada - got Mexico done. Now I am planning to do a royal flush by hitching a yacht in the east Carribean and doing all those lil' islands.
Fifty three countries done and counting, before I get to meet my soulmates.