Another travel writer told me about a game he'd invented for a novel, a game called "Strip Passport."
"What's that?" I asked, suspecting it was what it sounds like.
It is... one person opens their passport and shows a visa. Whoever cannot match it has to drop an article of clothing.
Country-counters could play gleefully. I counted countries on the walk to Starbucks last week (terribly bored, I admit). I lost track somewhere in the sixties, but then someone at Sean's work in Sydney asked him for my list, so I typed them all out into an e-mail. It was 71.
I don't count things where I was only in the airport. I don't count Alaska or Scotland or Hong Kong as separate countries. Airport stopovers are okay if you actually leave the airport and go into the nearby city, but just going to the airport hotel does not count by my rules. I once spent the night at the airport hotel in Taiwan. That doesn't count, though lots of people are happy to bend the rules in their favor. Vatican doesn't count by Marie-rules either. It is helpful if you intend to visit a country to actually visit it, not to just get a passport stamp and get back on the plane.
A few years ago, several people on the ship to Antarctica asked "How many countries have you been to?" I didn't know and they got annoyed. "C'mon, you know. Everyone knows." I sneered... it isn't about counting. Then someone else pointed out to me that NOT counting was almost as elitist as counting. You can't win! It's another one of those damned-if-you-do/don't conundrums. (I counted Antarctica as a country but actually, it isn't, so maybe I'm only at 70.)
Anyway, I am ready for this game of strip passport. Bring it on. Fake countries don't count--I don't want to see any visa stamps for Galapagos or Ushuaia.
Multiple and expired passports are acceptable. "Bring the whole stack," says the travel writer. I don't have the whole stack with me in Kuwait. But I think I could make a pretty good showing with just the two I have in my pocket.