Bucket List, destinations, Travel Life

My “Sweet Sixteen” Countries

Over the course of my life, I’ve visited sixteen countries. I had the goal of visiting 30 countries before my 30th birthday, but with the onset of pandemic travel restrictions, I switched gears to visit 30 states before my 30th, which I’m happy to have accomplished! Maybe one day I’ll share the list of states I’ve visited, but today, I’d like to tell you about my sixteen countries. Who knows? I hope in ten years’ time, I can tell you the 40 countries I visited before my 40th birthday!

  1. United States- I was born and raised and have lived here all my life. I’ve lived in Oregon, California, Nebraska, Ohio, Colorado, and Missouri, and most recently have returned to the state of my toddler years, California. As for states I’ve visited, well… as I just mentioned, I’ve been to over 30 of them (33 to date), so we’ll save that for another time!
  2. Mexico- For many Americans, their first time out of the country was a trip to Mexico. That was true for me: when I was 14, my family went on a cruise with stops in Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas. I’ve been to Mexico many times since, including a couple of mission trips. I currently live 30 miles from the Tecate border, so sometimes I go for a few hours just to enjoy the food! My most recent trip was similar to the first: a cruise with my coworkers to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas.
  3. Peru- I took two mission trips to Peru with my church youth group. We partnered with Posada de Amor Children’s Home and Eliel Christian School in Cieneguilla. On both trips, we also spent a day in the capital city, Lima.
  4. Canada- Despite being the world’s second largest country in size and one that’s fairly easy for Americans to access, I’ve only visited a small piece of this country. While on a trip to Niagara Falls, I crossed the border a couple of times and even spent a night there.
  5. France- My first European nation! I started off my first overseas backpacking trip in Paris. After a detour into Spain, I returned to see the southern part of this country in Nice. 
  6. Spain- I started off in Madrid, headed over to La Alberca to volunteer with an English immersion program, returned to Madrid for a few more days, then headed onward to Barcelona.
  7. Monaco- My main reason for going to Nice wasn’t to see France, but to see the world’s second-smallest country. There are no hostels or any sort of affordable accommodation in this country, so I settled on a day trip. As it turns out, a day is all you need to see pretty much everything in this nation.
  8. Italy- I’ve spent more time in Italy than any other European country. For nearly a month, I explored cities such as Venice, Verona, Florence, Pisa, and Rome. And I saw just about everything there was to see in each of these places! But I still have a list of more places I want to go to and see if I ever get the chance to return.
  9. Vatican- No trip to Rome is complete without venturing into the world’s smallest nation. I border-hopped several times, and saw the Pope on two occasions!
  10. Greece- From Italy, I took a big, long ferry to Greece, then rode buses and trains around, so I saw a lot of the countryside. But I spent most of my time in Athens and Thessaloniki.
  11. Turkey- Although I only visited Istanbul, this city allowed me to be in both Europe and Asia! In fact, to date, it’s the only part of Asia I’ve been to. (For those of you counting, that’s a grand total of four continents.)
  12. Ireland- Several years after my first European trek with no international trips, I was itching to get back to Europe. I spent a week headquartered in Dublin, but took side trips throughout this beautiful island country.
  13. United Kingdom- My first time setting foot in this nation was on one of my Ireland side trips, where I went to Northern Ireland for places like Giant’s Causeway and Belfast. But a couple days later, I flew to England to stay in London with trips to Bath, Stonehenge, and Greenwich.
  14. The Bahamas- Before my trip to the British Isles, I was doing savings challenges to get enough money for that trip. While doing so, I stumbled onto a great deal for a Carnival Cruise. I chose to go to The Bahamas, with an itinerary that included Princess Cays (Eleuthera), Nassau (New Providence), and Freeport (Grand Bahama).
  15. Germany- I started off my third European adventure in Munich. From there, I explored Bavaria in places like Fussen (home of Neuschwanstein Castle) and a national park resort where I volunteered in an English immersion program. I had planned to do more around the country, but ultimately, the only other place I ended up visiting was Frankfurt. I’ll explain why with the next country…
  16. Austria- The first time I set foot in Austria was when I was on foot from Germany. I was in Fussen and decided to walk across the border through the beautiful German-Austrian Alps. A couple of weeks later, I got to visit Austria “for real” by going into Salzburg. However, even that was short-lived as coronavirus was quickly shutting everything down; I had to cut my trip short after barely escaping Salzburg!

It’s been a sweet life traveling to a sweet sixteen countries. What will be number seventeen? I’m looking into a few options for my next overseas trip that will include visiting a different country. I hope to update you on that soon. I only have nine years to check off 24 more countries if I want to reach 40 before 40!

How many countries have YOU been to? Even if it’s only one, share in the comments, and let me know which country you’d like to visit next!