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Thursday, June 20, 2024
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TPOL Does the Unthinkable, Skips a ‘Country’

Skipping a Country is part of the Bula! Fiji Hub Trip Report.

En route to my Residency in Melbourne, I am stopping in Fiji. I booked a layover with a random stopover of 9 nights. My goal was to go to New Caledonia and perhaps Vanuatu. Based on logistics, lack of points availability, and out-of-pocket costs, I scrapped those two destinations. Using Wiki Airports (see Finding Flights to the Unbeaten Path), I tried to find islands of adventure while simultaneously increasing the all-important Country Count List (see Where I’ve Been). Curiously, something amazing happened to me. I decided to skip going to American Samoa despite being right next door in Samoa.  Given that it is highly unlikely that I will ever have the opportunity to go to American Samoa, why would I pass on the opportunity to add on another ‘country’ when it is only 30 minutes away? Here are my reasons written in advance of this trip.

  1. Time: I arrive in Samoa in the afternoon and am only staying two nights in Samoa. I would not have time to see either island given this limited amount of time.
  2. Flight Availability: At present, there is only one airline flying to American Samoa. They had no flights on the day I was planning on going.
  3. Other Islands: Given logistics and time, I had two choices: Go to Samoa and American Samoa or go to Samoa and Kiribati. Kiribati was preferable for two reasons: 1) Their slogan for tourism is “Kiribati is for travellers, not tourists”. I consider myself the former. 2). As a points traveler, how can I pass up on a redemption that costs 20,000 Avios and $37 versus $1484 out-of-pocket one-way (see Remarkable Points Spreadsheet: Fiji Hub, Melbourne & Bangkok Residency)?
  4. $610: I couldn’t justify paying $305 per person for a day trip to American Samoa just to add another ‘country’ to my vanity list.
  5. Nothing I want to do: The reason I follow the TCC list for ‘countries’ is because it encourages adventure. If I was only going off the UN list, I would be satisfied going to one place in country and counting it is as the whole country. This is hardly the mark of a true explorer. At the same time, if I am going to go to a ‘country’ or country regardless of invented lists, I want to connect with that place. With one day in American Samoa and after reading my friend Lee Abbamonte’s blog about it (see What are the Differences Between Samoa and American Samoa?), I decided that smelling Starkist tuna and going to a national park were not enough for me to dismantle my otherwise perfect itinerary.

I wrote this post ahead of my Fiji Hub Trip. I am curious to see if I will end up regretting not going to American Samoa when I’m actually in the neighborhood. If not, perhaps this is a turning point in TPOL’s world quests. Perhaps I will not be as beholden to fictional lists and skip places without feeling guilty.

a map of the islands
I haven’t been to Cuba and it’s the same distance from Miami.




  1. Just returned from Samoa today. Plenty to do in two days…. i spent 4 days there and didn’t get to do everything I wanted. Enjoy!

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