Class Notes & Profiles

Around the World in 80 Years

By Samantha Soper '91

Vassar alumnae/i have always been great travelers, but few have been as determined and deliberate as Betty Goff Cook Cartwright ’40. In the 1970s, after many years of traveling, Cartwright joined the Traveler’s Century Club (TCC). In order to join this nonprofit group, the traveler must have visited at least 100 destinations designated by the club — everything from easy-to-reach and familiar countries such as France and Mexico to more remote and little-known destinations including Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean and Lesotho in Africa. “The club serves many purposes,” Cartwright said. “It’s a goal-setter, a geography teacher, an instructor on travel planning, and a networking tool for meeting and exchanging information with other like-minded travelers. An essential element is curiosity about other languages, other cultures, and other people.”

TCC has more than 1,500 members throughout the world, but only a few have reached the “300s”: ticking off more than 300 of the 317 destinations that TCC lists. The club and its list were first established in 1954, when travel in much of the world was less convenient than it is today. “For example, to go to Hawaii in the early 1950s was a big deal. It involved trains and boats and took much more time,” commented TCC Chairman Klaus Billep. Another area may be listed because it is separated from its mother country by more than 200 miles (e.g., Guam and the United States). In the intervening years, areas have been added and some have even dropped off the list. “Who knows — in another 20 years, the moon might be on the list,” said Billep.

Cartwright’s travels started with the Caribbean and Europe at age 9, but it wasn’t until 1999 that she reached the 300 mark. Her count is holding steady at 307; but she admits her recent ventures to Rodrigues Island and the Chagos Archipelago (better known as the British Indian Ocean Territory) may have been her “final wild travel fling.” Some areas still missing from her list are Ogasawara, Andaman and Laccadive Islands, and East Timor. (Need an atlas yet?)

When not globetrotting, Cartwright divides her time between homes in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Memphis, Tennessee, where she was born and raised. For more information on the Traveler’s Century Club, visit