Reaching 30 countries before 30 – the goal

by Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders

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Reaching 30 countries before 30 – the debrief.

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while, will know that it was originally called ‘Reaching 30 before 30’. If you are new around here, let me explain why. It was born as way of documenting my quest of reaching 30 countries before 30 years old. I have now turned 30 and, as you probably know, I smashed it! For a full list of the countries I have visited, have a look here!

Image of Where Charlie Wanders on way to reaching goal of visiting 30 countries before 30

How the ‘Reaching 30 countries before 30’ began

I was 24 when I set myself this goal. I had read an article about a woman who had done something similar, and decided this seemed like a excellent goal! What a fantastic way to start seeing the world. I did a quick count, and at this stage I had visited 17 countries.

It really was as simple as that! I also bought a pin board map. Previously I had thought I was well travelled, and then realised how much of the world there still was to see. I am very goal driven and loved the idea of having something to aim for!

How I achieved it

Upon setting my reaching 30 countries before 30 goal, the first thing I decided to do, was book a 9 week sabbatical exploring South East Asia. I visited 7 countries across this period, starting in China and finishing in Bali. In theory this trip was meant to get the travelling bug out of me, for me to then focus on my career. It did the opposite!

At the age of 27, I reached my 30th country in May 2016. Just over two years after I set myself my goal! If you want to read my post on this – click here (it was rather an excited, brain dump post, do please forgive me!)

proof of reaching 30 countries before 30

In those two years I visited:

  1. China
  2. Vietnam
  3. Cambodia
  4. Thailand
  5. Malaysia
  6. Singapore
  7. Indonesia
  8. Iceland
  9. Japan
  10. Czech Republic
  11. Ireland
  12. Morocco
  13. Guatemala

The SE Asia countries were obviously all part of my sabbatical. Iceland, Ireland, Czech Republic and Morocco were all long weekends / short breaks. Japan was a three week trip, which I combined with a second visit to Singapore.

My South East Asia trip obviously crammed quite a few countries in, in quite a short time. I would never say I had ‘done’ those countries (can you actually ever say that?) but I have definitely visited them. If you are looking at trying to fit a few different countries in, into a short of space of time, I would definitely recommend a group travel tour (take a look here to read all my thoughts on these!)

Indeed, my visit to Guatemala was the beginning of a three week tour across Central America.

What did I learn?

I got very very fixated at one point on the counting aspect of my goal. It made me turn down deals or bargains because I had already been to that country. I have now realised how ridiculous this is. Perhaps I have been to a certain country, but it is so blind sighted of me to not want to visit a different part of that country. Let’s think about the USA for example. How can a trip to New York be anything like heading to Alaska?

I also learnt to consider countries I might not have thought of before. This was particularly true when I joined group travel tours. I ended up visiting Malaysia because it was part of the Thailand to Bali tour, and I really wanted to explore Indonesia. But it ended up being one of my favourite countries!

What’s next?

Well, firstly I upped the goal from ‘reaching 30 countries before 30’ to ‘reaching 40 countries before 30’.  I also achieved this goal in November 2018, with a work trip to Belgium in Brussels!

Image of Brussels, 40th country

But now it about focusing on travelling somewhere simply for the reason I want to! I re-visited the USA, for the 7th time, to go on a Fall road trip around New England. This is even a part of the country I had been to before, but a road trip with my best friend was a very different experience from the family holiday I went on when I was 13!

Read more about this AWESOME trip here: One Week New England Roadtrip

I am also not going to stop counting (find out more about why here). I love knowing how many countries I’ve been too and I also love finding new destinations to fall in love with. But, I am definitely focusing on discovering new experiences, not just new countries.

How you can achieve reaching 30 countries before 30

Firstly make sure you aren’t travelling simple to tick countries off a list. Travel somewhere because you really want to visit that place, enjoy the experience and soak up the culture.

Having said that, it is great to have a goal and that feeling of satisfaction when you achieve it is quite something.

If you are trying to achieve this goal, and don’t have the luxury to be able to travel full time – it is still possible! With the exception of my sabbatical none of my trips have been longer than 3 weeks, and most are long weekends to week breaks. I tend to plan my travel calendar around the idea of having one ‘big’ trip in the year, and then shorter breaks interspersed across the rest of the year.

picture of where Charlie Wanders at Abu Simbel

If you are lucky enough to live in Europe the easiest way to visit a few countries is city breaks and long weekends. With short flights, you can maximise your time in a location. Take a look at this post for some inspiration: The ultimate European city break bucketlist

For the longer distance destinations, consider group travel tours. They take all the stress out of planning. And most importantly when you are trying to cover distance, the transport. If you are short on time, this is invaluable.

Take a look at some of these trips (all 2 – 3 weeks) which cover some great countries:

Mayan Sun – Belize, Guatemala and Mexico.

Classic Vietnam and Mekong River – Vietnam and Cambodia

Delta Falls – Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe

Think about adding a day or two on at the beginning and the end to maximise the amount you see in each destination.

Do you have any travel goals? I would love to hear them!

If you liked this post, please pin for later. 

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Sightseeing Suzi February 25, 2019 - 9:38 pm

As amazing as reaching your goal was (huge well done!) it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy the ride, so to speak 🙂

Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders February 25, 2019 - 9:50 pm

It definitely is!!! I’m so excited to be heading back to Menorca and Italy this year. And just enjoy

Hannah Walter February 26, 2019 - 7:58 am

After a really shitty end to 2018 with a break up, I’ve made 30 before 30 my goal too! Hoping to hit it before then so may have to up my goal to 40 like you did xx

Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders February 26, 2019 - 8:26 am

I’m so sorry you had a rubbish end of the year. It’s just the worst. But I’m so pleased something positive happened to. Congrats on reaching 30! How long have you got before turning 30?

Kerry LifeandLoves February 26, 2019 - 10:58 am

Ahhhh well done for hitting your goal lovely, thats great. Its funny, I used to see people banging on about the amount of countries they had visited, and thought it was some weird competition that everyone was in haha! I didnt realise people did it for reasons like this. I have never counted the countries I have been to, but now I want to! I love that you are just enjoying your travels now, an American road trip sounds amazing!

Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders February 26, 2019 - 3:06 pm

Thank you lovely! Haha the only competition I have is why my self 😂😂

Definitely want to enjoy 😊 although do have at least 4 new countries for this year 😁

Laura February 26, 2019 - 4:06 pm

Wow, this is incredible and so are you! Funnily enough, I have this same goal, with 2 years still left to accomplish it though with ways left to go still.


Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders February 28, 2019 - 10:34 am

I have everything crossed for you! How many have you got left?

jasonlikestotravel March 2, 2019 - 5:06 pm

Definitely worth still counting countries but not if it’s the detriment of your travels and stops you visiting places you’d probably enjoy. The USA is a great example as it’s so vast and diverse everywhere you go.

Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders March 2, 2019 - 5:34 pm

Exactly. It got a bit out of hand, when I stopped wanting to go back to a different part of a country I’d already been. But I’ve sorted myself out now!

Nicoline March 4, 2019 - 5:33 am

Great post and great inspiration. However, what I think is the most important part is that you’ve realised ticking off a country from a list doesn’t mean you should never visit it again.
I’m part of a travel club in Denmark (where I’m from) and so many people I meet there take a few weeks off to travel to as many countries as possible – I honestly find it idiotic. To me travel is (mostly) about immersing myself in a country, experiencing it as much as possible and getting to know the locals. ☺️

Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders March 10, 2019 - 10:13 pm

Thanks so much. So pleased you enjoyed it. I think the most important part of travelling is to enjoy it, however you choose. I would love to spend a month in each country, but it’s just not possible. So sometimes a quicker pace can be good too. I figure as long as I enjoy the experience then nothing is wrong with that

Sarah April 8, 2020 - 9:53 am

I had the same goal! I also managed to hit 40 and I was really hoping to try and make it to 50 before I’m 30 but given the current situation, that’s not looking too likely now as I only have a few months left.

Now that I’ve hit my main goal though, I definitely am trying to re-vist countries more often (both to new areas, and back to places I love).

Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders April 8, 2020 - 10:04 am

Well done for hitting it! 40 before 30 felt pretty great. But you’re right, its definitely nice to be re-visiting some awesome countries too now.

missdanielleeex June 7, 2020 - 5:10 pm

I’d love to set myself a goal like this! Might have to be 35 now though as I’m 30 in just under a year and COVID ha.

Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders June 7, 2020 - 6:05 pm

That bloom in’ C-vid! What number are you on now? I loved having a goal to work towards!

Nic | Nic's Adventures & Bakes June 9, 2020 - 11:39 am

Well done of hitting your goal, I have yet to reach that I hope to do it before I turn 40 🙂

Nic | Nic’s Adventures & Bakes

Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders June 9, 2020 - 7:02 pm

Fingers crossed for you

Anderson October 18, 2022 - 2:41 am

Thhis is a great post

Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders January 12, 2023 - 10:36 am

Thank you


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