If you find yourself in the company of travelers the conversation will at some point always end up at how many countries you have been to. This throws up the conversation of “what counts as a country” and what counts as “visited”.
With the former you have the UN club, who think visiting French Polynesia is the same as France, and then you have the Travelers Century Club, who seemingly think leaving your house counts as a visited country.
Much like the game of pool, people get to make their own rules, which we have done.
To read about what counts as a country click here.
What counts as visiting a country?
This is another one where people have very different criteria, often criteria that is really weird. I have heard people say that they need to wank, or take a dump before they count a country as visited. Dude that is just weird. On the flip side of the coin, others suggest spending at least one night, which whilst I do not agree with, can at least understand the sentiment.
A layover at an airport, be it for an hour, or 24 hours DOES NOT COUNT if you do not clear customs and immigration. If you go through that you have legitimately been to that country. For me this invariably means I have had a cigarette there, but is is non-smoker friendly too.
The exception here is the bus ride you can take from Changi Airport.
If you stay in the airport it does not count.
What if there are no customs, or immigration?
If you are traveling by train through the EU, or the old Yugoslavia for example you can pass through countries as that is where the train goes. If you do not get off the train, OR do immigration (if applicable) then it does not count. So if you take the the Trans-Mongolian railway for example, Mongolia very much counts as country that has been visited.
Is there a time limit?
Hell no! I once took a ferry to Finland, jumped off did immigration, drank one beer and one Tequila, and within 45 minutes was back on the boat to Estonia. Job done, Finland done, and it is on my list of visited countries list.
And those are our “pool rules” for what counts as visiting a country! Do you have any quirky rules you’d like to share with us?