We’ve all heard that traveling broadens the mind. And it’s true. I will never forget the washroom attendant in Poland who asked me how many sheets of toilet paper I needed to ‘do the job’–then doled it out like rare, thousand-dollar bills. Who knew this experience would help me ration tp during a future pandemic?

Travel isn’t the only fun way to learn how and where other people live. Having friends who hail from around the globe exposes you to lots of cool stuff. And COVID too, apparently, so why not play this safe, socially distant travel game?


THE 1-MINUTE VERSION: In 60 seconds or less: write down how many different CONTINENTS you’ve “visited” by having a friend who was born there, or their parents were. Score 1 point for each continent. Usually there are 7 continents (there seem to be disagreements about this, though none oddly enough include Atlantis).

THE 5-MINUTE VERSION: In 5 minutes of less: write down how many different COUNTRIES you’ve “visited” by having a friend who was born there or their parents were. Score 2 points for each country. You may wish to add in Continents at 1 point each if you secretly think it’ll help you win. Your call.

RULES:  No counting people you only sorta-kinda know. That’s more like flying over a country or only seeing the airport. However, if you used to be friends with someone in the past, then that counts. Unless they stopped being your friend because you buried them under your prize petunias. Know what? Let’s let the cops decide if that counts . . .

BONUS: Since nobody actually lives on the continent of Antarctica (it is covered in ice, after all), this game has a bonus continent to get you to 7. Here it is: if you have friends who use a wheelchair or have some other serious physical or mental challenge, then you’ve probably seen a whole other way of living. So that counts. Bigly. Write your friend’s name instead of Antarctica, take a point, and give them a hug already.

FINAL TIP:  If you’re like me and find you’re still missing a bunch of friend countries, take my advice: do not post an ad like ‘seeking a friend for general merriment.’ That can lead to some very awkward play dates. Or so I’ve heard. Instead, be on the lookout for opportunities to broaden your mind and fill up your Friend Passport!