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World Travel

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World travel is the general term used to describe the practice of traveling around the world going to various countries almost indiscriminately, often with the attempt of visiting them all.

This is a page for other travelers to contribute information, opinions, and advice for what defines world travel. What follows are just my ideas, please contribute your own in the comments below. This page will be continuously evolving and changing.

Countries and territories visited by Wade Shepard as of Dec. 2012.

Countries and territories visited by Wade Shepard as of Dec. 2012.

Four stages of world travel

There are around 200 countries in the world. This number is often disputed, as there is actually no firm defining parameter of what constitutes a country, and some sources peg the amount of politically autonomous regions at a touch over 350. The UN recognizes 198 areas of the world as being formal countries, so this is the number that I will use when discussing the occupation of the world traveler.

As I continue through my 11th year of perpetual around the world travel I have observed four distinct stages of world travel, each stage roughly comprising 50 countries.

The first stage of world travel

[adsense]The first stage of world travel consists of the countries and regions that most travelers tend to go to first, it includes North, Central, and South America, Western Europe, East and some parts of Southeast Asia, Morocco, Turkey, and Egypt, India and Nepal. Many of these could be called the easy regions of world travel, but I think it is more accurate to say that they contain the most commonly visited countries. These are the countries that we most often see in postcards, featured in travel blogs and magazines, shown in films, talked about by friends, ventured to by study abroad students and English teachers, the places that are easiest to identify on maps, the lands that we’ve heard of. These were the regions of the world that I, too, began traveling it, as I believe that it is a normal thing to do. In point, if you are faced with a world that you have barely stepped foot upon where are you going to choose to go first: China or Uzbekistan? Peru or Namibia?

Generally, this first stage will consist of around 50 countries within these regions.

The second stage of world travel

The second stage of world travel comes after you have been around for a few years, have visited Latin America, East Asia, India, the popular countries that have a lot of weight in the folklore of the traveler. But once these regions are traveled through there is still an entire wold out there. This second stage often contains 50 countries spread through Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Middle East, Scandinavia, the Caribbean, West and East Africa, the Mediterranean islands, Mongolia, Russia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Tunisia, South Africa, and other places that could be considered a little farther off the well stomped trail. This could be called the glory stage of world travel, as many of these countries are remote enough to be challenging and interesting while still being evident of some semblance of a tourist infrastructure.

The third stage of world travel

This group of 50 countries consists of the truly off the map places, the lands that 95% of the planet could not point to on a world map. Here we are talking about Central Africa from Botswana up to Chad, the South American Guayanas, Central Asia, the Caucasas states, Azerbaijan, Iran, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, Bhutan, and many other countries that are far off the tourist trail. I only know a few people that are in this stage of world travel.

The forth stage of world travel

The forth stage of world travel consists mostly of islands and very difficult to reach countries. I do not personally know any traveler who has entered this stage, as I am sure that either a boat or a very large bank account is needed. .

Four stages of world travel summary

These stages of travel is not a rule or a guideline, but is more my observations of tendencies of the countries that world travelers tend to go to throughout their journeys. I am still only breaking into the second stage, but I have already traveled through the Middle East, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Mongolia while leaving massive gaps in some of the regions that make up the first stage. Going to a “third stage” country does not mean that you have entered the third stage of world travel, it just means that you went somewhere that far less travelers tend to go.

The philosophy of world travel

If the object of world travel is found in the attempt to earn an even impression of the world as a whole then country and region counts are perhaps the only applicable measuring sticks. The long duration visiting of countries across the globe is essential for world travel. There are 50 something countries in Africa, but someone who has only visited these 50 countries is not a world traveler, they are an Africa traveler. This goes the same for Europe, as there are countries in this continent but traveling only to them as oppose to going to the other continents of the world also does not constitute world travel, it is European travel.

List of world travelers

It is my impression that a person needs to have traveled through at least 50 countries across a minimum of 4 continents for over three years to boast of being a world traveler. This is an ongoing list of people that I have met or know of who meet this qualification.


Contemporary world travelers

Andy Graham
Michael Robert Powell
Earl Baron
Jasmine Stephenson
Robin Reifel
Dave, the guy looking for home

Old time world travelers

Harry Franck

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Filed under: Travel Information, Travel Resources

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3133 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Zhushan Village, Kinmen, TaiwanMap