I have never been one to travel in a rush or travel just to tick off a box next to a country on a list. I like to spend quality time in each place and by “quality” I mean immerse myself in the local culture as much as I can during the time I’ve chosen to spend there.
My love for travel and curiosity for the world began when I moved to the US from Colombia as a teenager. Adjusting to a new culture while learning a new language was challenging, exciting and rewarding at the same time. When I graduated from college I decided that I would try living in a different country again and I chose to move to France since I’d already been studying French for the previous six years of school. This experience gave me a taste of a new world that felt completely different than the two countries I had lived in- Colombia and the US.
My time in France sparked an even bigger desire to see more and more. I was always curious to learn about how other people lived “out there”. Of course I could just learn about other countries through travel shows and documentaries but I wanted to go see for myself! I remember watching some of my favorite travel series like No Reservations or Globe Trekker on TV (before Netflix) and thinking that if the hosts could go there, why couldn’t I? I had already experienced living in France while working as an au-pair and on a minimal budget so I knew that it wasn’t necessary to be rich or famous to see the world.
After France, I continued to visit as many countries as I could through my young adult life, making it a point to visit at least one country per year. I was fortunate to have the health, freedom and resources to make this happen. After 17 years of working as a professional in an office environment and traveling during my regular 2-week annual vacation, I decided to quit my job and travel non-stop for two years around the world.
Travel becomes addictive! Can you relate? It happens to a lot of us travel lovers that the more places we see, the more we WANT to see.
For me it had never been about counting countries but the funny thing is that as your list of visited countries grows you can’t help but start counting. I began to ask if I had been to every continent and how many countries I had seen in each continent, and so I began my count…
My trip around the world took me to 24 new countries that I added to my list of 29 countries already visited in the previous years putting my grand total at 53 countries.
I often get asked by friends “Are there any countries you have not seen yet?” and I always answer with a chuckle “Yes, a lot!”
There are 195 countries in the world of which 193 are member states of the United Nations and the remaining 2 are non-member states- The Holy See and the State of Palestine. The latter is recognized as an independent state by only 135 UN member countries.
As you can see, I have a lot of countries left to explore!
The desire for more and more travel led me to make a big career change and join the Travel industry as a Tour Director/Guide. My need and interest to get more educated about the world and be inspired by other like-minded people led me to join different travel networks offering regular webinars and talks on all kinds of travel-related topics.
I recently attended a very informative presentation by Rick Gazarian from the website globalgaz.com and the podcast Counting Countries who is on a quest to see all 193 UN member countries. He explained that trying to complete this big quest has led him to visit places that he would’ve never seen if it wasn’t for trying to complete the list. This really resonated with me! I love discovering new places so why can’t I also strive to see every country in the world?!
I’ve decided that I will continue to travel in hopes of seeing and experiencing every country in the world within the next 10 years of my life. I don’t know what the future may bring as I get older so I will continue on this nomad journey for as long as I can while I’m still young and have energy and health to run around the world with a backpack.
And the money to do it?! Well, I will have to find other ways to work while I travel until we figure out a way to live with Covid and the travel industry recovers enough to hire back some of us newer Tour Directors.
Here are ALL THE COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD listed by region with the ones I have visited in bold:
AFRICA – I’ve been to 8 of 54
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Ghinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
ASIA & MIDDLE EAST – I’ve been to 16 of 47
Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Bhutan, Brunei, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Maldives, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine State, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Yemen.
EUROPE – I’ve been to 13 of 44
Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic (Czechia), Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holy See (Vatican State), Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
AUSTRALIA & OCEANIA – I’ve been to 2 of 14
Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Salomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.
THE AMERICAS & THE CARIBBEAN – I’ve been to 14 of 36
Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Sao Tome and Principe, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela.
DISPUTED TERRITORIES- I’ve been to 0 of 7
Taiwan, Transnistria, Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Kosovo, Northern Cyprus, Republic of Somaliland, Western Sahara.