In 1954, wanderlust, a desire previously associated with nomads and hobos, officially became a competitive sport.
A clique of frequent fliers -- before the term was co-opted by the airline industry -- banded together to start the Traveler's Century Club (TCC).
To join, members needed a minimum of 100 country stamps in their passports.
Rivalries between members and various groups eventually became cutthroat.
Factions duked it out over what qualified as an official destination -- the United Nations now claims 193 countries; TCC, 321 countries and territories and MostTraveledPeople.com (MTP) offers 873 places to methodically cross off your list.
Other issues included how much dust has to gather on a traveler's boots before a visit counts.
The bickering got so contentious that Guinness discontinued its listing for "world's most traveled person."
Today, the TCC has more than 2,000 members, 20 regional chapters and, no surprise, the competition for the crown of most traveled remains intense.
At latest count, there were four separate TCC affiliate groups with members who tick off destinations the way birders might tick off white-throated needletails or upland sandpipers.
For the most part, members of these rarefied groups (many belong to more than one) enjoy camaraderie and comparing notes.
After all, who else could they consult for tips on the best B&B in Chuvashia?
Or commiserate with over the three times they attempted to tick off Bouvet Island only to fail, three weeks and $25,000 later, because the icebergs were too massive for the ship to break through.
"More than anything, TCC is a social group," says Klaus Billep, chairman of the Santa Monica, California-based organization. "It started at country clubs in Los Angeles before jets and the ability to get places caused an explosion of travel agents.
"In many ways, it was one of few places you could swap travel tales and learn that if you stay at this place versus that place, you'll be right on the beach and have the chance to meet the owner and his daughter who works as the chef."
"This title cost me six marriages"
Over the years, with new ways to parse destinations and titles -- endorsements and websites have came, too -- the social interaction part has become more competitive.
At age 37, Charles Veley became the youngest person to bag all 321 countries and territories on TCC's list.
Some then thought he went too far in attempted to take over the coveted Guinness World Records title by adding more official destinations to the list.
Tahiti, for example, is by some official counts part of the French Republic; Veley wanted it counted on its own.
John Clause, an attorney from Indiana and at the time the decade-long record holder of "world's most traveled man" got his travel shorts in a knot.
As he said before he died in 2008, "This title cost me six marriages and I do not intend to surrender my sword lightly."
Jeff Shea, another road warrior who has walked across Transylvania, sailed across the Pacific and reached the mountain summit of every continent, including Everest, contends he's seen far more of the world than Veley who, after selling his successful high-tech company at the height of the dot.com boom, became so focused on marking off countries that he logged all but 70 of TCC's 321 in three years.
The one thing all these modern day Marco Polos agree upon is this: naysayers who insist an obsession to collect passport stamps is an inferior way to travel are simply spitting sour grape seeds.
We'll ask you to decide.