Is an overnight stay needed in order to count a country? In the Karakum
desert in Turkmenistan we eventually went to “bed.” In tents. 
I am usually asked how I count having been to a country. The answer is that I must have experienced something and have a story to tell. The follow-up question is amost always the same. 
– Do you count airport transfers? 
I do not. Do you count having eaten at a certain restaurant if you concidentally happen to be there in between the starter and the main course?

Neither do I count going through a country on a train or a bus. I cannot experience a country without stepping on it. In my opinion. Others have other ways of counting. Travelers’ Century Club count countries where you have “been” for refuelling even if you never left your aircraft. That’s too easy, in my opinion. And way too boring. Some people require a passport stamp which means that you must have at least stepped on the ground of an airport, train station or border post. Just receiving a passport stamp doesn’t take much, and you can easily fit in 8-10 of those in a day. A group of friends even claim to have been to 17 countries in 24 hours, going by car through Europe. 

Overnight or bust?

The next question is whether I have to stay overnight to count a country. 
Of course not. Why should I? I may have been to the same country 10 times in one year, never having stayed overnight. I may have travelled there very early in the morning, stayed there all day and had breakfast, lunch and dinner. I may have walked or jogged tens of kilometers, met a bunch of people, had work meetings, gone wild shopping and had way too many drinks, yet managed to leave the country by plane, car or train before midnight. Those who claim that I need to stay overnight to count a country will ignore everything I managed to do on those 10 visits, as examplified above. 
They will however still count a country if I arrived in it 20 minutes before midnight, went straight to bed in an airport hotel, woke up six hours later, showered, had a a quick continental breakfast and was airborne and on my way out of it by 7:30.
Do you still insist on an overnight stay? 
If you do, how will you ever count the Vatican? Good luck running for Pope. Women not allowed.  


  1. An airport stop does not count for me. As soon ass you leave the airport, its official, you have been to that country.
    I once did a white water rafting trip near Bariloche in Argentina, and at the end we saw the border sign for Chile which we took photos at. Considering this is my only experience in Chile, it feels like I have not really visited the country and I won't tick it off my list.

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  3. I have been in Hungary for about 15 minutes without leaving the car, and I still put it on my list. I haven't really experienced the country, but I have been inside the border and therefore I put it on my list. Of course, I will go back for a proper visit later.

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