Lists! Lists! Lists!!!

Or How do I keep track of my travel destinations?

As someone who is slightly OCD and has a passion for travel I was thrilled when I discovered long before we had the idea for this web site that there was several active lists where you could log your travels and tabulate your current country or travel count. In the scroll bar on our website you will find the combined lists for Rita and me of all the places we have gone either alone or collectively. We have no illusions that we will ever complete any of the lists we have but it is a fun way to keep track of our adventures.

Now what do we consider a visit? For example I have Atlanta as an airport on my airports I have visited list but I literally ran from one terminal to another to catch a connection so I do not count Atlanta as a city visited. It is however your list and there are no rules so use whatever criteria you are comfortable with. We use the lists to enhance our travel experience not just to tick off destinations. We have traveled to places and seen sites solely because they are on a list of US National Park Sites or World Heritage Sites. We would have missed out on tremendous adventures if we were not pointed in the right direction.

A lot of these lists are the highlights of a certain place especially the US NPS and WHS lists. It reminds me of a phrase that has come into vogue in the last few years “be a traveler not a tourist.” This idea crystallized for me when I was watching Anthony Bourdain on a show he was doing on Egypt. In the program Tony was sitting in a café with the pyramids over his shoulder. He said and I am paraphrasing; “most people will go to see the pyramids over there but instead I will take you to a peasant area for a cultural experience.” I said to myself no, I want to see the pyramids and if there is any time left I will try to fit something else in but it will probably be a museum or other “tourist” attraction. If that makes me a tourist instead of a traveler than I am happy with the label. Does anyone else miss the days 30 years ago when if you could find a travel program on TV it was a travelogue of top sites for a particular destination and not a rundown of what the people in those destinations are up to?

So where do we begin with our lists. Let’s start with the most obvious.

The List of Countries Recognized by the UN (193)
This is all of the sovereign countries in the world but does not include territories or entities such as Taiwan, Palestine, or Puerto Rico.

The UN Plus List (198)
The UN list with a few additions like Taiwan, Palestine, etc.
The Best Traveled UN Plus List (266)
The UN list with territories and all disputed countries listed
These are good starting point but are too limiting for our tastes. Can you say you have seen the US if you visited Atlanta on a flyover from Europe to Central America. Huge countries like the US, China and Russia cannot be pigeonholed into one all encompassing location. It makes more sense to me to break down Russia into 85 Oblasts and the US into 50 States.

TCC List [The Traveler’s Century Club] (325)
This club has been around for 60 years and includes almost all of the disputed countries, territories and outlining islands but does not include states, oblasts or provinces.

The Most Traveled People (MTP) List (875)
This is my second favorite list and is quite comprehensive with its territories and country’s major subdivisions.

The Jeff Shea SISO List (6978)
The CHAD –Country Hybrid Administrative Divisions (6338)
These massive lists break each country into administrative units be it state, canton or county.  There are some inconsistencies in the SISO list some of the Balkan countries have no subdivisions but Slovenia has 193! The UK has 232 subdivisions.  The CHAD list I think is more Reasonable eliminating some of the minor subdivisions and adding back in some that were missing from other countries.

The Best Travelled List (1281)
Finally if you want one list that is both reasonable and doable this is the best site and best list.  Countries are divided up into logical sub-divisions and the site has easy to use click friendly draw down boxes.  The added benefit of this site is that you can update all of the above lists on the one site.  In addition to the lists above the TBl site also provides lists of World Heritage Sites, Major Cities, Airports, Attractions, etc.  A fun site to play around with it gets my highest reccomendation.