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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!
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!)
In those two years I visited:
- Czech Republic
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!
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!
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.
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!
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