I was perusing my map of my air travel the other day, and an odd fact struck me: I’ve spent a night in The Netherlands, but not actually visited the Netherlands. And by not actually visited, I mean not even entered the country. Technically, that’s might not be true either, as I did pass through European Union passport control on a flight from Amsterdam to Nice several years ago. Not sure there.

Amsterdam Airport is Not The Netherlands

I’ve passed through Amsterdam Airport three times now. But I’ve never left Schiphol. Therefore, at least in my book, I’ve never visited The Netherlands. It’s not checked off on my travel map. I have a hard and fast line about visiting countries where I actually have to go out and see stuff. Only then does it count. Sure, the trip can be brief, and I don’t have to stay the night there. Two countries on my map I count as visited, but I haven’t overnighted within them. This makes sense for the Vatican City and Monaco. You can spend the night in the latter. It might be a tad more difficult in the former.

Anyway, last year I spent a night in Schiphol Airport, which puts The Netherlands in an odd spot. Overnight? Check. Flight? Check. Pass through passport control? Check. Visited? Nope.

a blue and white airplane parked on a tarmac

Why I Wouldn’t Count Leaving the Airport a Visit Either

If I hadn’t been restricted from entering during my last visit, I certainly would have opted for an overnight hotel at the airport, but not the Yotelair within Schiphol. Rather than a tiny room, I would have had a real hotel room, and it likely would have been cheaper.

Yet, even then, this isn’t a visit. I might count an overnight as visiting a state that I don’t really want to see (like driving straight through), but an airport hotel just won’t do.

I know people have all sorts of metrics for counting states or counting countries. There are many countries I would like to visit, and while I keep track, I don’t have plans to visit them all. Time requires that I “play the tourist” where most visits are brief. But they must be real visits, and an overnight isn’t that.

What are the metrics you use for “counting” a visit to a country?