829(or so) Passport Stamps and Counting?

The New York Times T Magazine supplement from this past Sunday had a feature on a unique, 48 year-old man named Charles Veley who,

took an extended break from the tech world in 2000 to become king of the niche pastime known as “competitive travel.” Heligoland? The Johnston Atoll? The island of Diego Garcia? Veley, one of the world’s most extreme travelers, has been to these places, as well as 826 other “countries, territories, autonomous regions, enclaves, geographically separated island groups and major states and provinces.”

First, congratulations to Mr. Veley on his success during the first tech bubble.

Second, the article mentions Mr. Veley has 9 passports! He averages between 90-100 stamps per passport. That is astounding!

Third, the US State Department only lists 195 countries in the official database. If I were looking at a map, I could probably guess another 30-40 places that could be countries, like Scotland, Tibet, or even Texas, but I’d still be close to 600 places shy of Mr. Veley’s total! Heck, to join the Traveler’s Century Club, you only need to visit 100 countries. 100 countries is more than half the world. Wow.

Whether he actually enjoys the travel or it truly is a competitive sport to him is probably a fair question, but I admire his quest. The world seems to be shrinking daily, so I applaud any attempt to reverse that trend. I have no idea where Heligoland is, in what ocean I could find the Johnston Atoll  or what continent is nearest Diego Garcia, but I’m off to find out.* (Sometimes, it’s hard for me to finish travel articles due to the Wikipedia wormholes I find myself sucked into when researching the places mentioned. I’m pretty confident I’m not alone, here.)

Anyway, maybe the three places mentioned – Diego Garcia, the Johnston Atoll and Heligoland – are more beautiful than Costa Rica, more delicious than Tokyo and more artistic than Berlin. Maybe all three have the fun equivalent of a subway station in August. Maybe they’re Communist. Maybe they have hotels bookable on points (hmmmm)…Who knows? The point is just to go forth! I have my Top 7 Travel Goals for 2014 – have you thought of yours, yet?

Charles Veley's travel records! Courtesy Charles Veley, of course.

Charles Veley’s travel records! Courtesy Charles Veley, of course.

(If you haven’t already thought of a travel destination this year, then read my Top 7 Travel Goals for 2014, my feature on Ishigaki, Japan, and Where I Went in 2013 for ideas!)









*Heligoland is a small German archipelago in the North Sea. Johnston Atoll is 750 miles southwest of Hawaii and was a long-time US military base. Diego Garcia is in the central Indian Ocean, next to nothing and is a joint US-UK military base.


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