Most people collect something. Stamps, coins, comic books. Nothing out of the ordinary there. And then there are the people that collect places. I call these people territory collectors.
Do you count the countries you’ve been to? Then you’re a country collector, although chances are you probably aren’t as obsessed as some. On the website Most Traveled People [http://www.mosttraveledpeople.com] you’ll find thousands of people competing to be the world’s most traveled person.
The MTP website lists 872 countries, territories, autonomous regions and other geographical spots around the world. Visiting all of them would mean you’ve literally been everywhere. So far, no one has. But the founder of the site, Charles Veley claims to have been to 827 or 95% of them. That’s a lot of frequent flyer points.
Using MTP’s criteria, I decided to see how many of their destinations I’ve been to. Just 77. I’m a lightweight.
Vancouver’s Stew Sheppard has been to 616 of MTP’s 872 places and, while he loves to travel, he says he’s not obsessed with it. His travels are based on visiting a place because something interests him – not just to tick off another destination.
“I travel because it gives me great pleasure,” he says. “I like to explore and discover and have an insatiable curiosity.”
Stew tells me about the Travelers Century Club [http://travelerscenturyclub.org], saying they’re even more hardcore than MTP members. The TCC is for people who have been to 100 or more countries (the organization has about 1800 members). Their country checklist is quite different from MTP – but they also acknowledge that their list of 320 approved places aren’t all independent counties. For example, they count Alaska as a separate entity.
Surprisingly, there are people with even loftier goals. They collect states, provinces and even counties. Yes, counties.
There are 3142 counties (or their equivalents) in the United States. Collectors attempt to “blackout” a state or even the entire US. A website [http://www.mob-rule.com/counties/] dedicated to this pursuit shows that just two people have been to every county in the United States.
The website also lists 393 counties or their equivalents in Canada. Not surprisingly, no one has blacked out Canada. But Tony Hill from Minneapolis has visited 323 or 82% of them. The Extra Miler Club [ http://www.extramilerclub.org/ ] has more information and tips on how to be a county collector.
Another type of territory collector are those who collect the divisions between places: border crossings. The Border Crossing Hitlist [ http://www.nicolette.dk/hitlist/ ] enables people to record these journeys. The current leader has 160 – and remember, each crossing is counted only once – so 160 is 160 different border crossings.
All this territory collecting gets even more specific. In the US, a group of people called high pointers try to reach the highest point in every US state. According to the High Pointers website [http://www.highpointers.org] more than 210 people (completers, they’re called) have reached this goal. And more than 400 people have hit the heights of the lower 48 (or, finishers).
Peakbagger.com [ http://www.peakbagger.com] lists the Canadian high points and notes how difficult these places are to reach. Five of them require serious expeditions to remote and very challenging alpine areas. According to the site, “as of early 2011, Jack Bennett of Ohio and his son Tom Bennett of Georgia are the only ones known to have reached all of these summits.” Tom even wrote a book about their experience: Not Won in a Day: Climbing Canada’s High Points.
What about low points? That’s been done too. After visiting all of the the American high points, Jack Parsell of Beaver Falls, New York thought he’d visit all the low points and tripoints of North America (tripoints are places where three political entities meet – states, counties or countries). His guide is available for download here. [http://www.bjbsoftware.com/corners/docs/parsell.pdf]
So whether it’s countries, states, counties or peaks you’re after, you can take solace in the fact that you’re not alone and there is no shortage of places to go.