Chris and Joe Scott of Fredericksburg, Virginia recently joined the elite ranks of the Travelers Century Club (TCC).
Founded in 1954, the social club has approximately 1,500 members worldwide. Eligibility is based on visiting at least 100 of an approved list of organizations in 330 countries and territories worldwide.
Scotland checked out the 100th country, the Republic of Cape Verde (Africa), last December.
Wanderlust across generations
Clearly, the feat was on a slow and steady trajectory.
Chris and Joe met as college sweethearts at West Virginia University and have been married for 39 years. They now have her two adult children and her two grandchildren. The couple had already visited about 60 countries when they first heard of ‘Club’.
Both have fond memories of being raised in families who loved to travel, and embarking on parenthood didn’t dampen the couple’s shared passion.
“When our oldest (daughter) was four weeks old, we took her on an overseas trip to Canada,” Chris said in an interview with Forbes.com. “By the time she was three months old, she had her own frequent flyer number,” she adds.
The most important criterion in planning the Scott family’s vacation was to fit in with work and school schedules. Scott’s first trips with the children were limited to destinations in North America (United States, Canada, Mexico), with the exception of a family cruise to the Caribbean.
“Once my children entered primary school, I began planning long trips to European capitals such as London, Paris, Rome, Athens, Stockholm and Reykjavik, but never closed school for the holidays. ‘ she says.
Retirement ignites love for travel
Rather than slowing down after completing an active professional career, retirement only ignited Scott’s desire to explore the world.
“After we both retired in 2019, we decided that traveling to 100 destinations was near the top of our list of things to do,” says Chris. “We have worked almost our entire adult lives, Joe as an engineer and I as an accountant, to achieve this freedom.”
This, she says, was when she set out to find out more about TCC, an organization she had only vaguely heard of before.
“We are intrigued to find an organization for world travelers like us who love to experience the adventure of a lifetime and visit off-the-beaten-path and unknown destinations. I got it,” says Joe. “On top of that, we lived near a very active chapter in Washington, D.C., so we were able to meet and network with like-minded, well-travelled, adventurous people.” he adds.
Slowed down but not daunted by the pandemic
The couple had already planned and booked 12 trips for 2020 before the full impact of the pandemic was felt.
“We were at Dulles Airport on March 12, 2020 and were ready to leave for our trip to Fiji when we received a text alert from Trip Advisor,” says Chris. “It read: Urgent message: Your travel has been suspended. Do not board the plane. Travel restrictions related to COVID-19.”
Nine of the 12 previously scheduled trips have been canceled due to the pandemic, Chris says. “Over the next few months, we successfully negotiated refunds with airlines, hotels, cruise lines and travel agents,” she adds.
As soon as travel resumed in the United States, the Scotts packed up again and traveled with the United States. I went to Las Vegas, Memphis, Nashville and Oklahoma (in Indiana) to meet Lee Drummond[The Pioneer Woman],” she says.
When international travel finally resumed in 2021, the Scotts booked a trip to the all-inclusive St. James’s Club in Antigua. “That trip energized us and started booking cruises and land travel around the world,” says Joe.
Achieving their goals and earning bragging rights as TCC members was not the end. “It encouraged me to keep traveling as long as I could,” says Joe.
“We are planning six trips starting in April this year,” says Chris. She explains that she is staying close to home while she waits for the arrival of her third grandchild.
After giving birth, the Scotts will embark on a seven-night cruise to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, via Doha, Qatar, before returning to Egypt. After that, trips are planned to San Marino, Palma de Mallorca, Tunisia, Norway, Greenland, Fujairah (UAE), Oman, Seychelles, Kenya, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Madagascar and Mauritius.
Their advice: stay flexible. They’ve learned that changing health restrictions and political instability can put countries on your bucket list out of reach.
“I’ve been lucky enough to visit Machu Picchu in Cuba, Russia and Peru during much more peaceful times,” Joe says. “But there are many other attractive places.”