Here I am, over half way to my coveted goal of visiting 100 countries. As a traveler, I know it is not only about the number. I have returned to countries that I love, for more exploration. At this point, I can appreciate a special experience more than a new passport stamp. And finally in my 40s, I have learned to embrace the notion of slow travel. But there is no denying that 100 is my dream as a globetrotter.
And while I know some places much better (Spain) than others (China), I decided it would be fun to write about every country I’ve visited to date, all 53 of them to be exact. In some cases, I am only sharing my favorite travel moment in each of these countries, but in some cases, it is nearly impossible to share only one little tidbit. So here it is, in complete random order:
And of course I can help you organize a trip to any of these places, or really anywhere in the world. Let’s get in touch!
Spain – How do I even begin to sum up the most beautiful country on this planet in just a few sentences? This is the country that has the honor of being “my favorite country” on my most recent “top 5” list. It is my “soulhome” and where I feel most at home these days. Favorite memory of Spain? Just one? Impossible! From working from my “office” with Alhambra views to road tripping across Don Quixote country to randomly stumbling upon Extremadura Pride in Cáceres, I don’t think I can ever top my experiences in Spain. Thankfully, they will continue as Madrid is currently my other digital nomad “homebase.”
Netherlands – I won’t lie. Visiting a coffeeshop and then biking over to the Van Gogh museum to experience the artwork in a (legally) altered state makes for a fantastic day!
South Africa – A great country for an introduction to Africa. Cape Town is one of the best cities in the world, and it is possible to see all of the Big 5 in Kruger National Park!
Mozambique – Home to some of Africa’s best beaches, Mozambique is a paradise for scuba divers and snorklers. And for people who just wish to relax under the warm African sun.
Sri Lanka – This is a tough one to sum up in a few sentences, like Spain. Sri Lanka is where I entered a new decade of my life, and I couldn’t have made a better travel choice. Sri Lanka is where I fell in love with the hillsides covered in small tea trees, the wildlife viewing (which rivals Sub-Saharan Africa), and the beautiful beaches. I loved this tiny pear shaped island nation so much that not only did I write it a love letter, but went back a second time on my extended Asia backpacking trip. (And for the record, Sri Lanka secured the #2 spot, after Spain, on my top 5 list). Oh and I am working on organizing my first tour to Sri Lanka. If you are interested in seeing this amazing place for yourself, let me know!
Turkey – Despite the recent troubles and travel warnings, Istanbul is a world class city, where two continents and several cultures meet. Getting lost in the spice market is something everyone should experience.
Russia – Nothing compares to sipping Russian vodka on an epic Russian rail journey. And Red Square has to be seen to be believed!
Costa Rica – Ahh, a breath of fresh air! Costa Rica is a paradise truly committed to preserving its abundance of natural beauty. A great destination for all kinds of travelers: backpackers, families, luxury travelers, eco-travelers, and beach buns alike.
Kenya – Probably the most thought of country when people think of Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya’s wildlife parks are world famous for a reason. For a quick visit to this part of Africa, Kenya is perfect as it is easy to organize trips from the capital (and main travel hub) Nairobi.
Tanzania – But for me, Tanzania is where it is AT for African wildlife. The Serengeti, Ngornongoro crater, if you spend a few days here it is impossible NOT to see all of the big animals. And relaxing at Zanzibar’s perfect beaches after a grueling safari (or clim up Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro) is the perfect way to end a Tanzanian adventure. For so many reasons, Tanzania secured a place in my most recent list of my top 5 countries.
France – France was my first real experience abroad, and to this day Paris remains one of my favorite cities on this planet. During my most recent trip to France I had big plans to venture outside of Paris, but as always the city sucked me in and kept me occupied for 10 days.
Japan – Although the cherry blossoms (sakura) get all of the press, I absolutely love Japan in the fall when all the leaves are changing color. After living in Japan, I can easily say that riding the famous shinkansen between cities was one of my favorite things about this country (at the time it was modern technology).
Cuba – Visiting Cuba is like stepping back into decades passed but into the future at the same time. The friendly Cubans and their entrepreneurial spirit will immediately draw you in. Riding around in old cars, the music everywhere, by the time it’s time to go, you won’t want to leave Cuba!
Australia – Quick! Go see the Great Barrier Reef before it is completely dead. I am sure glad I visited in the late 90s when it was still alive!
Thailand – A country that is super popular with all types of travelers, Thailand is the perfect for a holiday on a budget. Islands with perfect beaches (and great underwater activities), tons of culture, smiling people and amazing food. There is a reason everyone loves Thailand!
USA – The US is so incredibly diverse. There are vast differences by region, city, and state. Trying to lump it together as one country from a travelers’ perspective is difficult. I might be biased since I am from there, but California, for me, is hands down the best part of the country. Some of the US’ best cities, scenery, and people all in one (rather large) state. You can spend months exploring California solely and never get bored.
Greece – One of Europe’s best bargains. The best times of year to visit the islands is right before or right after the high tourist season. And if islands aren’t your thing there’s plenty of history.
U.K. – There’s more to the UK than just London. The countryside is absolutely stunning, and right now the Pound struggling, which means that the UK is affordable for once!
El Salvador – There is more to El Salvador than AK 47s. Pupusas and some of Central America’s best Pacific Coast beaches make El Salvador an amazing slice of paradise.
Argentina – Buenos Aires is undeniably the Paris of the Americas. But one of the longest countries in the world, Argentina is home to tropical rainforests, some of the world’s best waterfalls, and Arctic life as the tip almost touches Antarctica.
Peru – Not only Machu Picchu, Peru is the home to a wealth of natural wonders. From the Amazon to Colca Canyon high in the Andes, Peru might not be off the beaten path, but it made my most recent list of top 5 countries. Three weeks in this country simply was not enough for me.
Ireland – The rumors are indeed true! The Irish Countryside is one of the most beautiful rural areas on Earth. Just don’t forget your raincoat.
Myanmar – Traveling in Myanmar during the height of the Rohingya Crisis proved to be an interesting experience. All of the sudden I found myself in the controversial place on this planet. But the crisis aside, I found Myanmar to be one of the most unique places I’ve ever been. Unlike more Westernized countries in the region, the friendly people of Myanmar upheld their cultural traditions. And the food, OMG THE FOOD! Three words: Tea. Leaf. Salad.
Cambodia – Befriending a local tuk tuk driver and letting him take me all around the temples of Angkor Wat for three days was magical. Especially on Day 3 when I asked him to take me to temples and ruins that no one goes to. Together, we explored the parts of Angkor Wat that aren’t included in the guidebook.
Vietnam – You try crossing the street on your first day in Ho Chi Minh City and then report back that it was not an adventure. Also, I ate some of the best food I’ve ever had here, and at amazing prices too.
Panama – Home of Central America’s most vibrant city, but there is so much more to Panama than its capital city. Beautiful islands, rainforests filled with life, and great cool down opportunities in the mountains.
Laos – Laos and I had a rough start. But thankfully I didn’t hightail it to Thailand, before going to Luang Prabang, during a particularly rough night as I had planned to do. I loved my time in Luang Prabang. And taking the two day slow boat to the Thai border afterwards, was one of the most relaxing adventures ever.
Zambia – On 1 January 2016, after a rough year, I decided it would be a great idea to sign up for my very first bungee jump, in no man’s land, off the bridge that connects Zambia and Zimbabwe. Although the jump itself is neither in Zambia nor Zimbabwe, I will never forget the feeling of free falling toward the Zambezi River.
Germany – How can I pass up any opportunity to drink beer and eat giant pretzels? For me, a trip to Germany, even just a quick stopover, always includes those two essentials.
Colombia – Once “off limits,” these days Colombia has so much to offer to travelers. Crystal clear spoken Spanish, hip cities, beautiful mountains, and beaches that are perfect for an escape from life. It’s a blessing that Colombia is very much on the travel scene now!
South Korea – Crazy Seoul was the perfect city to explore before officially kicking off my latest backpacking jaunt to Southeast Asia. This modern city packed with culture made for a great way to break up a long flight.
Denmark – My (not so) inner hippie really enjoyed some quality time in Copenhagen’s Christiana, a self proclaimed free republic in the middle of Denmark’s capital.
Andorra – More than just duty free shopping, this tiny country sandwiched between France and Spain offers great opportunities for hiking the Pyrenees. Get out of the “city” and into the mountains to truly enjoy Andorra.
Sweden – You too can visit the flagship Ikea store! And the ABBA Museum (yes, that exists).
Portugal – Porto is one of my favorite mid-sized European cities. The architecture here is stunning. Be sure to stuff your face with pastel de nata on the daily when you find yourself in Portugal.
Mexico – One of my greatest weekend trips was a quick jaunt down to Mexico City. As it is one of the biggest cities on the planet, Mexico City has so much going on. Highlights were riding the fantastic subway system, renting a bike for the weekly street closure (to cars) on a Sunday, and eating more street tacos than I’d care to admit.
Belgium – More food! This time it is chocolate. And in Belgium, even if you are not a chocolate person, you must sample all the Belgium chocolates!
Croatia – Croatia is the perfect country to get a small group of friends together, rent a car, and explore. Beautiful national parks, Adriatic coastal scenery, and hip cities make Croatia an “it” destination. Croatia is where I can say that I had the best meal of my life, at Konoba Mondo, in the hilltop town of Motovun.
Zimbabwe – This is the best country to see highly endangered rhinos. But for me, it’s the views of Victoria Falls. The Zambian side does not compare to the Zimbabwean side.
Malaysia – Within moments of entering Penang National Park, I saw the biggest monitor lizard I’d ever seen before, crossing the path, less than a meter away from me.
Malawi- One of Africa’s (and the world’s) poorest countries, Malawi is rich in biodiversity. Especially amongst bird life along the shores of beautiful Lake Malawi.
Italy – Italy is another one of those places that almost every traveler has visited. Understandably. For me, my most fantastic Italian memories were from the hilltop town of Orvieto, in Umbria, where my dear friends who live there showed me the best of what their town has to offer.
Botswana – Botswana seemingly has more elephants than people. And a safari in Chobe National Park will 100% prove this to you.
Indonesia – Sure there is the madness of Bali, but neighboring Lombok is my favorite slice of Indonesian paradise. Beautiful beaches, amazing food, and really friendly people. And Indonesia is a true travel bargain!
Guatemala – Probably Latin America’s premier destination to take Spanish classes. And that is why I am here too, to fine tune my Spanish before returning to Spain next month. But I have to admit, waking up every day to views of three volcanos (one extremely active), is pretty damn cool!
Singapore – The Little India neighborhood is where it is at for me in in Singapore. Delicious Indian food, colorful architecture, and mSuch rougher around the edges than the rest of this tiny island city/state.
Switzerland – One of the most expensive travel destinations, but let’s face it, those Swiss Alps make it worth the price tag.
Canada – Canada is filled with natural beauty. For me, Banff and Lake Louise are the epitome of this. Of course I still need to explore more of Canada namely the polar bear migration in Churchill.
Vatican City – The world’s smallest country. While Catholicism is not my jam, it was really cool to see the tear down of the most important Sunday mass in the world (and then quickly return to Italy to be much more hedonistic).
China – Riding the maglev train into modern Shanghai was an awesome experience for this traveler who loves to ride trains. So fast, watching China fly by at 400 kilometers per hour exhilarating!
Ecuador – It will absolutely break your budget, but no trip to Ecuador is complete without a visit to the Galapagos Islands. Yes, it is a huge splurge, but where else on this planet can you get so close to the wildlife? And most of the animals who inhabit these special islands can’t be found anywhere else on Earth. A must for the wildlife lover.
Uruguay – One of the most progressive countries in Latin America, traveling in Uruguay is rewarding and interesting.
Hong Kong – This is “China lite,” where you will constantly be surrounded by tall skyscrapers and good food.
What are you waiting for? Go out and see the world. And if this is all overwhelming, I am currently offering free 15 minute Skype travel consultations so we can explore your personal travel options and preferences. Just fill out the form on my website to get started!
My name is Karen & travel is not only my passion but also my profession.