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  • Hello and welcome to travel Genius.

  • I'm okay And I'm Nikki Eckstein.

  • Where?

  • The travel geniuses at this week we're talking about competitive travelers, those of the folks who turned globetrotting into a school.

  • Plus, we'll be joined by Michelin starred chef and TV staple Eric Repair a lot more on this week's travel.

  • So this week we're gonna talk about a little known but totally intriguing travel subculture.

  • Competitive traveling.

  • Okay, I was going to say, And it is in honor of our friend and guest from season one who Please listen to her episode, if you haven't yet.

  • Jessica No Bongo a k a.

  • The Catch me if you can who just became the first black woman of African descent to visit every country on earth.

  • That's 195 places total.

  • So let's break this down.

  • Tell everyone waited.

  • This come from the idea of competitive traveling on what?

  • What is the gist of it, Mark, This is an entire people for whom traveling is on obsession and not just in the way that it is for you and I I mean they're logging every country trying to visit as many places as quickly as possible in a race to get them all.

  • You would think that this is a relatively new concept, considering how air routes have made the world so much smaller and more connected in recent decades.

  • But actually, this goes back to the fifties in 1954.

  • This idea of wanderlust, a desire associated with nomads, hobos it actually became a competitive sport.

  • Is this Olympic with just just competitive?

  • But I wouldn't be surprised if the IOC started looking at it.

  • Basically, a clique of frequent fliers banded together to start something called the Travelers Century Club, and in order to join members, needed tohave ah, 100 country stamps in their passports.

  • I'm already noting out, cause don't you check the stamps in your passport.

  • I love the stamps in my passport.

  • I have never been the first and who counts how many countries I've visited to you.

  • I've used those APS in that sort of slightly smug way of logging.

  • The countries have been, too, but I couldn't tell you offhand how many it is.

  • Well, either way, it's incredible to me to think that this is something that's been going on since the fifties.

  • So by 1960 There were actually 43 individuals who submitted qualifications proving that they had this 100 country checklist ready to go.

  • So they were sent Century Trust Century travelers, and they were the first ones.

  • And basically, since then, people have followed in their footsteps, trying to visit every country in the world.

  • The Traveler Century Club is still a thing with 2000 plus members and 20 regional chapters, but they there no well, not everyone in that has been to every country in the world.

  • Rights correct.

  • And it's funny because there's some controversy as to what that even means.

  • I mean, there are factions that duke it out over what qualifies.

  • This isn't fish As an official country, the United Nations says it's 193 countries.

  • Traveler Century Club says.

  • There's 321 countries and territories.

  • It's a huge discrepancy.

  • Where did that extra 130 plus countries come from?

  • And then there's an even bigger number.

  • There's a site called most traveled people dot com that lists 873 places to check off your list.

  • It's like the book 1000 places to see before you die.

  • It does sound.

  • I know that there are political reasons that the exact number of countries in the world isn't isn't locked.

  • That whether you consider Taiwan and independent country or not is as much about politics is geography.

  • But I'm sorry I'm not going from 193 2 873 I'm totally with you.

  • And in some ways I think those numbers are inflated to kind of give credence to the sport, right?

  • It's like an obsession that people can add more and more to their lists to prove that they have done more and more the they've done it better.

  • Exactly someone else.

  • And I'm thinking that is quite a gendered reaction.

  • I'm sure when you hear about this, you're thinking a lot of these guys.

  • Well, I will tell you.

  • No, they're not Jessica, who we've already mentioned, and Lexie have you come across, Lexie offered.

  • I've heard her name.

  • I don't know her personally.

  • She II profile to you.

  • You can look up the the print profile of her.

  • The digital profile of her.

  • She is the youngest person.

  • She's the Guinness world record holder.

  • Youngest person to travel to every country in the world.

  • And how old was she?

  • Mark when she said that record, she was 21.

  • That's wild now to give Lexie who do her family does run a travel agency, so she grew up in the travel business.

  • She had a bit of a jump on that.

  • By the time she's 18 she'd hit 72 countries.

  • But that's still Maur than 100 countries in three.

  • I mean, that's more than most people see in their entire lifetimes.

  • I hope that people like this understand the extreme privilege that's associated with the right to travel this way.

  • What all the challenges around this Nikki water like in terms of places people have to reach.

  • Is it the Incan inconvenience?

  • Because every country in the world isn't one flight away?

  • Well, there's so many ways to spice this right.

  • There's the people who say, Oh, it's not enough to step your toe in a country that doesn't count.

  • But then there's also the countries that are really hard to step your tone in the first place.

  • So let's talk really quickly.

  • B I O.

  • T.

  • And a acronym of a destination Most people know it is, the abbreviation might tell us what it stands for.

  • It stands for British Indian Ocean territory, but it's traditional.

  • Name is this Chagos archipelago that might be a bit more familiar to people.

  • Shigatse ins were famously forcibly settled in Britain when Britain requisitioned the islands and there is a court case underway.

  • We're not gonna get into that.

  • We're just going to say really hard to get really hard to get to because you need a permit from Britain just to step foot on this island.

  • And it requires getting like on a Navy shape.

  • It's, Ah, hole, many more than nine yards.

  • Um, and quite honestly, not much to do one see that there is, you might expect.

  • Based off of that history is gonna say that is the thing.

  • This is the most extreme version off that slight bucket list tallying sense we have when we travel.

  • And I think it's okay to want to tally your experiences as long as you're actually having an experience.

  • This toast stepping idea that people who are just thinking well, I'll go across the border from Venezuela and Colombia, and then I've got to get them both out That's not that that doesn't count.

  • I would agree with you on that.

  • I don't see what the point is.

  • It's not traveling If you're not actually seeing the place or learning about its culture.

  • I think it's a different thing entirely.

  • I think if there's anything that I dislike about competitive travel, it's the idea that the competition aspect pits people against each other.

  • Absolutely.

  • And I think if you look online, you will find that in this subculture there are sort of internecine fights about who's done water and who did it first.

  • And it is a little bit does remind me a bit of like the People's Republic of Judea and the People's Liberal Republic of Judea.

  • In Life of Brian, if anyone has seen that Monty Python, that reverend Ridiculous, we're the right people.

  • But again, I think taking inspiration from the the sense that the world is enormous and you want to see everywhere that I wouldn't fold agreed while on that note, Mark, Let's jump to our guest this episode, who has seen a lot a lot more world than most people in his particular industry.

  • We're talking aboutthe one and only Eric repair the chef of New York's La Bernadin, a restaurant that has all three Michelin stars and has had them every year since 2005 which is huge in and of itself.

  • But he's also won best chef in the USA from the James Beard Foundation, and you will know him from TV.

  • Whether he's hosting his own shows, he's a staple on top chef or teaming up with his late friend Anthony Bourdain.

  • All right, Mark, let's bring him in.

  • Eric, thank you so much for joining us.

  • And welcome to travel, genius.

  • Thank you for having me.

  • Thank you.

  • Please.

  • Now, everybody, before we start, we do want it.

  • We want to warn you, there is a procedural rule and you're gonna be listening out for this sound.

  • Nikki, that is the genius point sound.

  • It is our hotel bow and Nikki's the adjudicator.

  • I won't tell you where I pilfered it.

  • Exactly.

  • There is a hotel.

  • Every time you make a particularly amazing point, Nikki will award you a genius point that way.

  • Oh, my goodness.

  • Yes.

  • So no pressure.

  • Yeah, you're right.

  • If I don't hear anything Oh, you will feel like what, like crickets instead It's never happened.

  • Well, let's dive in.

  • I know that there's there's something that you always packed with you on your travels and people might be surprised.

  • It's not salt, it's not spices.

  • But it's another little good luck charm that you like to take with you about that all the time with me in my pockets.

  • Everything.

  • Now you have a Buddha.

  • Yeah, I'll try to you the Buddha.

  • Wow.

  • Esso just describe people haven't seen it is a clear, slightly warm because there has been a garnish.

  • Oh, my goodness.

  • How many more things are happening today?

  • You're lucky I have a phoenix.

  • So I'm just gonna take a picture of these off all of chef prepares little keepsakes.

  • But tell us how and why you started doing that.

  • I started to carry them in my pockets because sometimes it's a good reminder for me about my spirituality.

  • Um, so I'm Buddhist.

  • So the Buddha basically reminds me to be kind to people not to harm people.

  • Um, and many other things.

  • The ganache is a protection because he's a protectorate, removes obstacles or can place obstacles to protect you according to the Indian mythology and the Phoenix basically is born for from his own hushes.

  • Israel is a rebirth, so it's basically reinventing myself every day.

  • So those thanks in my book it when I put my hands in it is a reminder that's really lovely.

  • Has that scene you through any terrible airport nightmares or travel snafus That may be your lucky charms or the other.

  • They're probably really, like, Grab it in my end and play with them to be patient and to be kind to the TSA agent on.

  • You've never left them behind the security checkpoint.

  • No, but sometimes I give it to friends like you loan them out.

  • No, I give it like that.

  • You just give you an indigent.

  • Another one?

  • Yes.

  • It's a weight off being known a touch.

  • Oh, that's a really lovely sentiment.

  • Yes.

  • So sometimes sometimes people ask me like, Can you find me a Buddha?

  • Maggie, I'll take this one.

  • Where do you get them?

  • In stores when I traveled.

  • Um, everywhere.

  • And a collection?

  • Not really.

  • I have.

  • I mean, if<