Boy, that’s a lot of Airports!

I got forwarded a really interesting article from my mother, who assiduously looks for travel and airport related articles for me in the WSJ, LA Times, CNN, Fox News , especially now that she’s retired. As an aside, I  also find it amazing that she still subscribes to physical hard-copy newspapers and reads them daily (but that’s another topic).

But in any case, thanks Mom!

This article is about a special breed of traveler – the competitive traveler. That’s right. Competitive.

The sport of wanderlust.

As is traveling for leisure wasn’t good enough. Someone had to elevate. And in this case, the someone was actually a group of people, who decided to make an exclusive club called the Travelers’ Century Club (now a non-profit), and only allow people in if they had over 100 stamps in their passport (read: over 100 countries visited). Now the club has over 2,200 members, but the fight for the “most traveled individual” (even though it’s since been discontinued by Guinness World Records) rages on.

The most avid, rabid travelers have to make lots of sacrifices to stay at the top of the heap. One man quotes “This title cost me six marriages.” That’s a lot of marriages. Hopefully he didn’t battle for the title against his former spouses.

Part of the dispute is because countries keep changing. New countries form. Old countries disappear. Former colonies become territories, which are kind of like countries. Is Puerto Rico another country? A lot of Americans think it is.

So the argument goes.

It’s really unfair to people who were born in a time of country consolidation and country minimalism, where forming new countries may be out of fashion and larger and larger mega-lands and civilizations are en-vogue. It’s also really unfair to people who don’t live very long and who don’t have money…but hey, you have to draw the line somewhere!

tripchi therefore has a new way to settle this dispute once and for all.

Instead of counting countries, count airport codes!

As an aside, in case you every wondered about the logic behind 3-letter airport codes, you can learn more about that etymology here. They’re basically semi-arbitrarily and (sometimes unfortunately in the case of SUX, PEE, and FAT) by the IATA.

According to CIA World Factbook, there are over 41,821 airports in the world. Holy codes, Batman! And this list grows every year – it  never shrinks (Note: it would be really cool to do a trend graph of airport growth over time – I couldn’t find one through a cursory Google search).

Because no one could possibly ever visit all of these codes in a life-time, we’ve just set an impossible goal that is just the thing for travel-addicts who need another milestone to try to reach.

So, I challenge you – yes YOU – the competitive traveler. In fact I dare you. Double dog dare you even. Can you visit every airport code in the world?

Credit: Photomontage by Ho-Yeol Ryu

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Chandra is passionate about travel and technology....

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