Up to December 2012, I’ve visited 57 states (25.3%)
So far, in order of when I visited them, these are the 57 countries I’ve been to, along with links to the posts I’ve written and the photos I’ve taken:
My first trip abroad was a French exchange to Rouen in 1986, for which purpose I got a British Visitors Passport from the Post Office. Can you imagine that happening now?! Since then I’ve been back (I think) ten times, including two camping trips (Britanny, the Dordogne & Provence), two business trips (Paris & Eurodisney), one birthday (Paris, again), one romantic weekend (more Paris), a Ryanair bargain (Carcassonne was the cheapest flight I could find), three ski trips (La Plagne in 2008 and Les Arcs in 2009 & 2012) and possibly most fun of all, a twelve-hour overnight visit with no sleep (thanks to Eurostar’s clubbing fare)
Not every school kid got to go on a school trip to the USSR. I was very lucky back in 1988 (thanks Mum & Dad for agreeing to pay!) to go to Moscow & Leningrad. I’m dying to go back to see quite how much they’ve changed.
…even luckier that the trip also took in a visit to Yerevan.
…from where we drove over the Caucasus mountains to Tbilisi.
…and then a train on to Baku.
On my second family camping trip, in 1988 (I think), to the south of France, we drove over to Monaco for the day.
…and then nipped over the border to Ventimiglia, just to say we’d done it. Since then I’ve been back to Rome (2000) & Milan (2002). Hated them both. Still my least favourite country. I need to go back to see what everyone else sees in the place.
After years of nagging Dad to try and get posted overseas by work, he finally gave in. We ended up in Germany. I was disappointed (hey, I wanted Cyprus), but grew to love the place, and it’s now one of my favourite places. Aside from living there, I’ve been back to my old hometown, Berlin three times (1999, 2004 and 2005), and Hamburg (four times for work in 2007).
A summer holiday with the family in Bavaria gave us the opportunity to spend a day in Salzburg. I finally returned for a second visit, this time to Vienna, in 2011.
11. Belgium (pictures)
First proper visit was an A-level politics trip in 1991 where we spent the week discussing European politics. In French. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it, and it changed the course of my life, as it was after that i decided to languages at uni, and to do it in London. We were based in Genk, but also visited Brussels, Bruges and Leuven. I returned in 2001 to visit a friend in Brussels, and for a third trip in 2009 to Antwerp.
First visit was to Maastricht in 1991 as part of my first trip to Belgium. Since then, I’ve spent numerous weekends in Amsterdam, and lived for a while in Utrecht as part of my degree.
13. Spain (blog posts)
My first holiday after graduating was 10 days in Barcelona in 1996. It’s subsequently become my most visited and favourite country in Europe – I’ve been back to Barcelona in 2001 (to see the F1 Grand Prix), twice in 2005, and most recently in 2012. In 2001, I travelled to Madrid, Seville, Granada and Cordoba. Most of all though, I’ve been to Ibiza, visiting in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and twice in 2008.
I was looking on Teletext for a cheap flight to Spain in spring 1997. Instead, I found one for £99 to Toronto. Spent two weeks there and visiting Niagara falls. Loved it.
First visit was for about an hour during my Niagara Falls visit in 1997. Thanks to some compensation from United Airlines, I managed to wangle a freebie weekend in New York in 1999. I’ve followed that up with a whirlwind week visiting New York, San Francisco & Washington DC in 2000, a working week in New York in 2005, and a weekend of partying in Miami on my way from Honduras to Colombia as part of my 09-10 RTW trip.
Well, Hong Kong actually (I feel like I need to go back and see China proper to justify having it coloured on the map there). Spent two weeks there in 1998 pursuing a doomed long-distance romance…
…which also involved flying from Hong Kong to Koh Samui for five days on the beach. I subsequently returned three times for stopovers in Bangkok, in 1999 on the way back from Sydney, and in 2007/8 on the way to/from Laos. In 2010 I returned for a fifth visit, this time seeing Krabi, Ko Phi Phi, Phuket and Bangkok before heading on to Burma. My sixth visit was spent entirely in Bangkok airport on the way from Burma to Cambodia. I then returned two weeks later for a seventh visit as the final leg of my round the world trip, before flying home from Bangkok. In 2012 I managed a nine & tenth visit, again to Bangkok, this time on the way to and from Vietnam.
Thanks to a generous bonus from work (and in an incredible stroke of luck winning free business class flights), I had the holiday of a lifetime in Cairns & Sydney in 1999. I returned in 2006 to visit relatives on the Gold Coast and friends in Sydney.
Considering my family connections, and its proximity to the UK, I’m amazed this didn’t come sooner. In fact, my first visit was a work trip to Dublin, as were most of the subsequent ones. Other than work I’ve been once for a gig, also to Dublin, as well as twice to Waterford, once for work and once for pleasure.
20. Vatican City
Visiting the world’s smallest country is a bit of a no-brainer for the country-collector while you’re in Rome. So that’s exactly what I did in 2000. View from the top of St Peter’s is worth it though.
Despite being caught in a freak record-breaking heatwave, soaked to the skin in the heaviest rain I have ever had the misfortune to be caught in, and getting my first ever wasp skin during my visit in 2002, I’m not going to hold it against Hungary, as Budapest rocks.
22. Turkey (blog posts / pictures)
When I won a holiday to Turkey in 2004 via work, I was delighted; when I found it was an activity holiday for families, everyone who knew me laughed. Turns out I loved the sailing and waterskiing (even if my companion didn’t), and was the big step that really began the shift of my travels from being party-centric to being more outdoorsy. in 2008, I returned, this time to Istanbul.
“Hello? Is that The Times free flights promotion? Yes, I’d like to go to Madrid please. What? That’s gone already? For the next six months? OK then. Lisbon. No? Hmm. Rome? Munich? Athens? None of them? Helsinki is all that’s left you say? Oh well, I suppose that’ll have to do”. Not the most auspicious start to my first trip in 2001. Turned out to be great fun though. Much moreso than all my subsequent visits, which were mostly there and back in a day for work. Still haven’t been pony trekking or camping yet though.
I only ended up there in 2006 by accident, as it turned out JAL was the cheapest way to fly to Brisbane. Once I’d booked it, I ended up more excited about my stopover than my holiday. It didn’t disappoint.
25. Portugal (blog posts / pictures)
I didn’t make my first visit til 2006, but already I’ve probably seen more of Portugal than any other European country, thanks to a roadtrip taking in Lisbon, Cascais, Sintra, Obidos, Batalha, Fatima, Nazare, the Pinhal de Leiria, Figueira da Foz and Coimbra on my first trip. I returned twice in 2008, once to see Lisbon again and the second time to explore the Algarve.
After years of taking my annual beach holiday to Ibiza, I finally tried something different in 2006, heading instead to Mykonos. Now I want to go back to explore some of the other islands.
27. Mexico (blog posts / pictures)
Sat in a pub over Christmas 2006 I was complaining about how being single meant missing out on holidays. Six weeks later I was on my first proper backpacking trip, in southern Mexico, with the people from the pub. In 2009, I returned to Mexico as the first stop on my 2009-10 round the world trip.
We also managed to squeeze in a bit of Belize (actually, a bit more than we bargained for after a comedy of errors involving missed buses, forgotten guidebooks, misleading advice from locals, and getting the exchange rate wrong) during the same trip, as it was en route to…
29. Guatemala (blog posts / pictures)
…Tikal in Guatemala. I’ve already written several times about quite how amazing that place is. I returned to the country in May 2009 to study Spanish and hike volcanoes.
Including the UAE is cheating really, as I’ve only stepped foot inside Abu Dhabi airport, on the way to & from Laos in 2007/8.
31. Laos (blog posts)
When I booked three weeks in Laos over Christmas 2007, i didn’t quite realise the effect it would have on me. By the time I got back, I’d decided to quit my job and finally do the travelling thing properly.
First new country (of many) for 2009 was Norway, for a stag weekend on skis. Rivalling Mexico as the friendliest country I’ve ever visited, I’ll definitely be returning when I get back from my RTW, to see Oslo and hopefully the northern lights. It’s also by the far most expensive place too though, so my return trip may have to wait longer than I’d like.
My first visit doesn’t really count – I flew into Geneva in March 2009 to reach my ski holiday just over the border in France, and then back out again a week later. But I returned for a proper visit in 2011, when I spent a week skiing in the Bernese Oberland and a night in Zurich
Country number three in my South American trip, I arrived in September 2009, and spent a couple of weeks in the country. Far too short, I definitely need to go back!
My first visit was a fleeting two day stop in the Atacama desert on the way from Bolivia to Argentina. I returned six days later, to the capital, Santiago, and then spent a few days in stunning (and very remote) Easter Island.
My fifth South American country was just a short visit on my way from Bolivia to Santiago, but in that time I managed to eat steak every day. Mmmm.
41. New Zealand
I just had a brief stop of 6 days in New Zealand on my way from Chile to Australia – but I definitely plan to return to explore the country more
First stop on the Asian leg of my RTW trip was Indonesia, arriving in November 2009. After using up my 30 day visa, I arrived with a new one 10 days later to see a bit more of the country. It ended up being the country I spent the longest time in during my round the world trip.
43. East Timor
One of the newest countries in the world, I’d always been intrigued about visiting Timor Leste (as the locals call it). Needing to get a new Indonesian visa gave me the perfect opportunity to.
Getting from Indonesia to the Philippines required a quick two day stopover in KL. I had planned to stay longer but that’ll have to wait for another trip
45. The Philippines
Thanks to Air Asia’s sale I was able to make the hop over the South China Sea at a bargain price, and I should be here for about four weeks.
Getting back from the Philippines was even cheaper with Tiger Airways – and so I celebrated Chinese New Year with friends over a 7 day break in the city
47. Myanmar (Burma)
The penultimate new country on my round the world trip was a very last minute addition to my itinerary – and I’m so glad I visited. I spent an incredible two weeks in the country.
The final stop on my round the world trip gave me just enough time to check out Angkor Wat and then spend my final few days chilling out on the beach.
After two months in London trying to find a job, I got one, and then took myself off to Croatia for a week to celebrate before starting work again (eek!). It was stunning.
50. Bosnia & Herzegovina
Travelling overland between Split & Dubrovnik in Croatia requires driving through the tiny slither of Bosnia that meets the sea. I was only in the country for 37 minutes but that was enough to drive the full length of the coastline (the world’s second shortest, after Monaco) and stop for a coffee. I plan to return to see it properly though.
My first big holiday since starting work again was two weeks in Nicaragua in November 2010, and in that time I managed to see a fair bit of this beautiful country.
First new country of 2011 was Slovakia, which I visited in combination with a trip to Vienna over a long weekend. I returned briefly in 2012 for a business trip.
In September 2011 I finally made it to the one inhabited continent I hadn’t visited yet – Africa. I spent two weeks in the country and it turned to be one of the most fascinating I’d been to yet.
My final trip of 2011 took me to my second African country, Egypt, for a week of diving and relaxing before Christmas – although actually the bit I went to, the Sinai peninsula, is actually part of Asia.
In May 2012 I visited the one mainland South East Asian country I hadn’t been to, for a two week holiday travelling in the southern half of the country. I can’t wait to go back to see the North now.
My last two new countries of 2012 were Europe’s two smallest island nations. First up was a week exploring the islands of Malta and Gozo.
Just over a month later I flew to Iceland in an attempt to see the Northern lights. We failed, but I fell in love with the country anyway. I’ll definitely be back one summertime to explore more.
In the 5 years since I got my new passport and started being more adventurous in my travels, I’ve been to 31 new countries (as opposed to 26 I managed in the previous 32 years).
In 2013 I’m hoping to buy a house, so there’s a good chance my travels will be much more restricted next year. But I’m sure I can still manage to add a country or two to this list!