Bloggers love lists. They are easy and fun to write, they do well in search engines, and they get good responses. Recently, flipping through my passport in anticipation of my upcoming trip to Spain, I realized I had surpassed my 10th foreign country without even acknowledging the milestone! I was already at eleven. Maybe not such a celebratory number for Europeans who can take day trips for new passport stamps, but a decent showing for someone from the United States suburbs, where travel across the border generally takes lots of money, lots of time, and lots of airport transfers.
In chronological order, here are the first eleven countries I whipped out a passport for.
Update: Since I originally wrote this post, I’ve racked up quite a few more countries! Check out my full destinations page to see them all.
My first foreign country, and the one I am heading back to right now! I traveled to Spain when I was just 11 or so, visiting my beloved cousin Kirsten who was studying abroad there (and who was featured on this blog previously when she came to visit me in Grand Cayman last summer). We spent a day in Madrid before moving onto Grenada and Costa Del Sol. I recently found my “travel journal” from this trip which I’m planning to share in another post, as I’m now convinced I was meant from a young age to be a travel writer!
Spain taught me that great riches are waiting for those who leave their borders.
Belize! What a special place this country holds in my heart. And not least because at the very mature age of 14, my parents let me plan and book our entire family vacation! While I loved our yearly trips to Martha’s Vineyard, I had seen an ad in a travel magazine for Francis Coppola’s resort and after some light pleading (have I mentioned my parents used to call me The Bulldozer?) I was booking us in for four nights in the jungle in San Ignacio and four nights on the coast at Placencia.
The trip was absolutely magical, and the perfect balance between beach and jungle. We saw ancient ruins, rode horses through the rainforest at sunset, and I discovered my love of snorkeling during a boat trip to the pristine barrier reefs. I’m sure next time I make it back to Belize it will be on a much more modest budget, but for now I have happy memories of adventure and luxury!
Belize taught me that every great trip has variety.
My first trip to the Bahamas was a long weekend with my family to the Atlantis resort, just months after we had been to Belize. While we had fun being together, we found it all a bit Disney-ish and overcrowded for a vacation, after sleeping in open air thatch roof bungalows not long before. We also took a snorkeling trip that had way too many people and not enough fish.
Luckily I got a second chance at the Bahamas not too long ago, when I went to visit my boyfriend Mark on his liveaboard dive boat through Eleuthera and the Exuma Cays. This time around I had a whole new appreciation for the ocean, the people, and the natural beauty the Bahamas has to offer. Hell, we even went back to Atlantis. And I loved it. See my posts about the Bahamas here.
The Bahamas taught me that every place is worth a second chance
4. Costa Rica
Costa Rica also holds a very special place in my heart (are you sensing a theme here?) I traveled here as part of a student exchange my senior year of high school, and it was my first time traveling out of the country without my parents. While the freedom was certainly exhilarating, nothing could compare to the hospitality I felt being scooped up by my host family. For two weeks we explored the far corners of the country from our home base in San Jose, and every day I fell in love with Central America, and my new host family, a little more.
Costa Rica taught me that there is nothing like local hospitality to make you fall in love with a place.
Oh, Canada. One New Year’s Eve before turning 21, a group of my friends descended upon Montreal in order to take advantage of the subzero weather (ha!) and 18 year old drinking age. We were there for three days. I remember 1.5 of them, most of which involved trying to chase down a lost passport. Does this even count?
Canada taught me, um…. that the United States has a stupid drinking age. Sorry. That’s all I’ve got.
My trip to Thailand was a major turning point in my life. I was meant to be traveling with a friend, but when she backed out I soldiered on and at age 19 got on a plane headed for Bangkok. It was here that I fell in love with travel, Thailand, scuba diving, and my scuba diving instructor. My life changed in Thailand, as I began finding answers to questions I hadn’t even yet articulated out loud. See my posts about Thailand here.
Thailand taught me that there are people successfully and happily living unconventional lives… and I could too!
Cambodia was Part II after Thailand in my big Southeast Asia trip. Joined by my father, we traveled from the temples of Angkor in Siem Reap to the bustling city of Phnom Penh to the sleepy beachside town of Kep. It was not an easy place to visit in light of the country’s brutal recent decades, but I couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate travel buddy than my wise and history loving Dad. Read my posts about Cambodia here.
Cambodia taught me how unbelievably lucky I am to have so much, and yet how little is necessary for happiness.
Malaysia was the unexpected Part III of my Southeast Asia trip. Mark and I came here after another week in Thailand. We had a rough outline of a route for our two weeks there, but no accommodation, transport, or activities were booked. And it was fantastic. We zipped around Kuala Lumpur, cooled off in the highlands and spent a week blissing out on the most beautiful beaches I have ever laid eyes on. Read my Malaysia posts here.
Malaysia taught me that spontaneity doesn’t have to be scary!
9. Cayman Islands
After Mark moved to New York for three months, the US said bye bye and so he landed a job on Grand Cayman. I visited for my spring break from University and as soon as the school year was up I moved down for the summer. While the island grew on me slowly, I loved my job working for a photographer and underwater videographer. This was the summer I realized there was no going back: it’s island life for me. Read my (many!) posts about the Cayman Islands here.
The Cayman Islands taught me not to rush to judgment: there is something to love everywhere.
Honduras was our “vacation” from Grand Cayman. Mark and I spent a week whitewater rafting in La Ceiba and diving and exploring in Roatan before heading to Utila to meet my girlfriends from home. It was not easy coordinating a trip for six people with different budgets, expectations, and comfort levels, but the result was unforgettable. We had a fantastic week culminating in a 24 hour rave on an uninhabited island… how’s that for a story to reminisce over with friends? You can read my posts about Honduras here.
Honduras taught me that despite the challenges, it is a joy and a privilege to travel with friends!
Although I’ve been in Scotland for three weeks I feel like I’m just starting to scratch the surface of what this country has to offer. I can’t believe when I see people devoting just two and three days to see the entire country! Scotland will always be dear to me as the first stop on my Great Escape!
Scotland has taught me that the greatest way to see a place is slowly and thoroughly.
My focus is to travel slowly and thoroughly, so I’m in no race to double this list. And yet, within a month I’ll add England, Greece, and Turkey to the roster! Maybe it won’t take me as long as I imaged to hit twenty.
Want to see how many countries I’m up to now? Check out my destinations page to see an updated list of everywhere I’ve been!
So, now that I’m finished bragging, can you put me to shame with how many countries you have you visited? Do you keep track like me, or are there too many to count?
This is a good list. Not sure just how “foreign” Canada is, but if you’ve been to Quebec then its definitely not like the US. I regret not having made it through Malaysia during my SE Asia tour, but hopefully will be swinging back through there soon. I’ve also heard great things about Honduras.
Yeah I wasn’t sure about including Canada, but I was there gosh darnit! And Malaysia and Honduras are amazing! I highly recommend them both, amazing countries.
If you’re from the South (of the US) and travel to the North of Canada, I think that Canada definitely qualifies as “foreign”! Then again I’m from Amish country in Pennsylvania and have never been on a plane, so California and anywhere west and north of PA seems foreign to me! Snow-capped mountains are gloriously foreign to my rolling mountains and Amish buggies.
Let me tell you about the first time I ever saw the snow capped Rocky Mountains …1972,I was 20 yrs old and drove my car out to Vancouver from Toronto to visit a friend. Well a couple hundred miles before Calgary,in scorching hot weather, I’m seeing what I thought was a high cloud off in the distance,but it didn’t seem to move…as I got closer I realized it was no cloud but the snow capped mountains !! Unbelievable,they were so high in the sky…Was so excited to get to them I think I was bouncing in the seat…
They should be on everyone’s bucket list…just breathtaking…
Am I to infer from your comments about our good neighbors in Canada that you have engaged in underage drinking??? I am shocked!!!
It’s not underage in Canada!
I absolutely loved this post. I love that you have positive and interesting things to say about each place you visited. I also love that you have taken the time to consider what you learned..what you took away with you from each place. You are absolutely on your way to your dream..and in case you didn’t realize it…You already are a travel writer.
Keep your eyes and heart wide open and forge ahead!
Thanks for your kind words Laura!
I used to keep track like crazy, but I stopped counting once I started repeating countries. I’ve been to Argentina now 10X haha!!! I think I’ve been to around 50 countries in total? I love a lot of the countries you’ve listed!
Wow Andi 50 countries! I’m impressed! And you have a pretty good excuse for the Argentina addiction 🙂
Nice list. I’m from Spain, have been living in Thailand for a year and a half and moving to Cambodia in a few weeks.
I’ve never been to Scotland, but I’m surprised it’s making the top 10.
I had the luxury of spending a lot of time in Scotland, and I do love it! Of course since my boyfriend is from there I got the up close and personal tour 🙂
I love Thailand, my absolute favorite! Good people, cheap and a lot to see.
you have to come see south africa girl!
it’s the world in one country, honestly!
I’m dying to get there! Someday, someday…
Europeans don’t get their passports stamped when visiting most European countries! I really enjoyed your post, I’m travelling to Malaysia in a few months and am finding your posts on Malaysia very helpful and interesting!
Thank you Siobhan! That was one of the greatest trips of my life and I look back on it fondly. I’m sure you will enjoy it as much as I did!
Come visit Bulgaria! 🙂
The list is ever-growing!
I like your list. I wonder how different it would be if you had to put them in order of preference..
Well, as I write this now I’ve been to 7 more countries! Maybe when I get to 20 I’ll try to rank them 🙂
I did like your post and would like you to visit India. I believe you have never been to India. SO, it would be great if you could visit.
Perhaps someday! I hope to get to the whole world eventually 🙂
Have you posted the “travel journal” from when you were first in Spain? I’d love to read it! (Ps I just found your blog & I’m addicted)
Hey Emily! Welcome! I actually never did, and this comment was a great reminder. I’ll have to dig it out when I’m home again in March 🙂 Thanks for reminding me!
Love the write up Alex. Born and raised in the Bahamas. You should visit some of the outer islands to get a more realistic feel of the Bahamian culture, it’s unlike anything else in the world. I love the website and I’m in the process now of doing something similar to this… Australia is at the top of my list, have you been?
Hey Alyssa, I would love to return to the Bahamas! I think it is a beautiful country and the people are so kind and hospitable. I’ve never been to Australia… but it’s on my list!
Impressive list!Most of the country belong from my list also! Good choice. 🙂
Happy to say I’ve more than doubled this list since I posted it 🙂 Maybe I nee to write an update!
Interesting list. Belize is one of those less-known, but not less interesting places that I am very curious of.
Yes, I think Spain would be on my list as well, probably on the top!
I wrote this list back when I had only visited ten countries, so it was a little bit of me being silly 🙂 I can’t believe I’m up to 23 now!
Great list BUT I really think – aside from Montreal being great – that you actually fit Canada into your travel life. Being a Canadian and deciding to actually explore my own country (because have you noticed people forget about the beauty in front of them?) You would be blown away by your Northern neighbour 🙂
Believe me, I see a bit more Canada travel in my future 🙂 Since I wrote this post I also spent a weekend in Toronto… really enjoyed it!
I strongly agree! Canada is a stunning country and so diverse from coast to coast. I’m Canadian and have seen quite a bit of Canada already, but I can’t wait to hit the far north and the last few maritime provinces I’ve missed!
Also, I’m currently travelling Australia and started a blog to share my experiences. Check it out for ideas!
Love your blog and am getting inspiration for my travels in South East Asia:)
Thanks Heather! I adore Southeast Asia… it could keep you busy for quite some time!
Loved your list. I’m also a travel-lover and I always enjoy writing about them. In a couple of weeks, I’m leaving for Thailand for 3 wonderful weeks. My query would be the following: I’ve always travelled by myself (meaning alone) and, as you know, certain countries are more complicated than others for women… Have you found surprising places in that sense? Is there a list of countries to go to that are “safer” for women travelling alone?
Well, I have found in general I’ve felt extremely safe and comfortable traversing Southeast Asia as a solo woman. Street harassment is basically non-existent there, except, in my experience, in Gili Trawangan, but I ended up staying there a few months anyway, ha. I would totally recommend that region of the world for a solo female traveler!
How do you afford to travel so much?! I wish I could or get paid to travel.
Hey Kelli, check out my FAQ page! (Link in top left or in sidebar.) That should answer your question — but let me know if not 🙂
Amazing list!!! I’m from Montreal, I do hope you enjoyed your trip!!!
I’m inquiring about your trip to the southeast asian countries like Thailand. I’m hoping to travel there possibly within the next two summers, I’d like to visit Thailand, Vietnam Cambodia and maybe Nepal! By then I’ll be 22-23 and I’m wondering what your itinerary was like, how you planned it, if you booked with a group or a friend and how safe it was… If you have any tips, that would be really awesome! My email is listed above 🙂
Thanks so much, quite the inspiration to travel more!
Hey Yassi! I never did a big ’round the world. These were actually several different trips — and I’ve taken so many more since! Have you checked out my Destinations page? I’d recommend starting there for itinerary advice and inspiration, and let me know if you have any more specific questions from there. Happy planning!
We have traveled the world freely as backpackers for about forty years for extended periods of time and agree with your list except for Honduras (with the exception of beautiful Roatan). We deliberately skipped flying in to the capitol because we knew it was a dangerous city and flew instead into the second largest city (San Pedro Sula) which was actually recently reported as the most dangerous city in the world. There were armed guards in virtually every store and one simply did not exit the hotel at night. We did thoroughly enjoy Copan and a jungle lodge once we were able to book out of the city, but having spent months all over S.E. Asia, central America and other locals, we would not recommend Honduras except with a direct flight to Roatan.
Hey Daisy, at the time I wrote this I had only ever been to eleven countries — that was kind of my little joke 🙂 So I didn´t really make any hard calls, just listen the places I´d been so far! I loved La Ceiba, Utila and Roatan alike — I plan to return to Roatan and visit Copan as well next month.
I love to read you put my lovely city in your list Honduras is amazing and you need come and visit other places are great…is not a dangerous city all cities now in our world are dangerous we are good people:)
I love Honduras and have just been back in 2015, Jen! It’s a beautiful country!
I enjoyed reading your post. I have visited 22 countries. I am adding one or two more this summer. However I live in Asia. Thanks for your post.
You are welcome AJ! I’m excited to hit 30 this summer — I’ve come a long way since this post!
Wow, even for most people 11 countries exceeds what they would even expect to see in their lifetimes, I find that crazy to fall into that mindset. Life is all about adventure and I am glad to see you embraced the spirit of living 🙂 I have yet to travel to SE Asia but its on my list for this year. I spend most of my time down in hawaii but am getting hungry for something….wilder. more off the beaten path. Thank you for the beautiful inspiration.
Thank you Janice! I agree, life is indeed about the adventure. I’ve now been to thirty countries and that kind of boggles my mind. Yet there is still so much more to see… the world is huge!
Well, it is easy for us Europeans to travel to so many countries easily and quickly BUT, with regards to collecting many passport stamps, I am sorry to disappoint you but within Europe we can travel with just our national ID. With the Schengen agreement in place, there is not need for passport controls anymore and thus, we do not get any stamps when we travel to any country that is part of the European Union which makes it extremely difficult to collect many passport stamps without traveling further away…
That would be a bummer! I always love flipping through my passport and admiring a fresh stamp 🙂
Whoa, you have been to so many places.
There photos are just beautiful..aren’t they?
Ha, I like to think so 😉
I love to travel and really enjoy reading about other people’s adventures, however your post about Canada was very upsetting. You took the second largest country in the world with some of the most amazing scenery and cities such as Vancouver that consistently ranks among the top10 most beautiful cities in the world and your review was you were to wasted to basically notice anything. What a shame!
Well, in my defense I was 19 🙂 And, well, some trips are long ones to soak up gorgeous scenery and explore amazing cities, others are quick weekends away to celebrate New Year’s Eve in a place within driving distance! I’ve since returned to Canada for a conference in Toronto and am sure I’ll be back again many times throughout my life to get to know my neighbor to the north a little bit better.
Wonder if you’re planning to visit China one day?
I’d very like to offer you a drink of something, if you’re in our city of Hangzhou.
Have a nice one~~
Thank you for the offer Bruce! No immediate plans to visit, but perhaps someday…
Thank you for the offer Bruce! No immediate plans to visit, but perhaps someday…
Amazing! I’m from the UK and we are lucky that Europe is so accessible. In fact when I lived in London right by St. Pancras it was quicker to travel to Paris than to my Mum’s house in the north of England!
I’ve travelled to 9 countries, mostly in Europe. Next year I’m going to Asia, Australia and the USA. I’m very excited to visit the states. 🙂 x
There’s so much to discover in the US! Hope you enjoy your travels to my homeland 🙂
I am still dreaming to see that much of the world. So far my count only hits 10 countries and most of them close to home. Europe makes it easy to run through multiple countries within a day. I managed to be in 4 different ones during one day, actually just a couple of hours. I’m lucky to be adding India to the list soon though!
Wow! Four in one day, that’s crazy — which four?
I agree with the comments about your write up of Canada being upsetting, almost insulting. That’s like a Canadian claiming they came to the U.S. to get a burger, instead of acknowledging America’s diverse cities, beaches, forests and variety in culture. You may have been 19 when you wrote it, but perhaps you need to update it now that you’re older and more enlightened so people don’t disregard your opinions for being shallow.
I respectfully disagree that traveling to another country to celebrate New Year’s Eve for a long weekend of revelry is shallow. I look forward to exploring more of the beauty of Canada in the future — I’m sitting next to my Canadian boyfriend as I write this! — but this post was about, to quote from the post, “in chronological order, the first eleven countries I whipped out a passport for.” I’m not embarrassed that I spent three days in Montreal when I was nineteen and excited by the idea of legally going to a bar for the first time. And I wouldn’t be insulted if a Canadian crossed the border to get a great burger, either 😉
I agree with you: Scotland needs really more than two or three days to visit! (I’m always surprised when friends tell me that they have been there for a weekend and basically they just stayed in Glasgow or Edinburgh … Scotland is more than those two cities!)
If you plan more trips to Europe: visit Germany (I guess Berlin would be the best place, Hamburg is also pretty cool. Munich is overpriced as hell. If you have the time: visit the Baltic Sea. 😉 It’s not the Atlantic but it’s beautiful.), Poland (Kraków, Warszawa, Szczecin are great cities) and Denmark (Copenhagen) or Sweden. The two last countries are rather expensive (at least for European standards) but they are lovely. Italy is also lovely (although you should have a lot of time for it especially when you visit Rome because *so much too see*).
I hope to get to each and every one of those countries, eventually 🙂 Thanks for the recommendations, they are much appreciated!
Next time you are in Canada go further north to Yukon( Dawson City is fantastic). I’m from Alberta.
I’m actually going to be to hitting up Canada this summer 🙂 Can’t wait! More details will be announced soon…
I went on my first international trip last summer with a high school student programand and went to six European countries… France, Italy, Vatican City, Austria, switzerland, and Germany!!! All of your countries are on my list for someday 🙂
That sounds amazing Alexys! Keep traveling 🙂
EU citizens dont actually need a passport to travel to an other EU country, and thats why i only have one stamp in mine, from Florida
I hate when I don’t get a stamp, even when it’s for a logical reason 🙂 But hey, you still crossed the border!
Love this list! So varied and interesting for you first 10 countries. As for my first 10, they were: United States, Dominican Republic, Greece, France, Monaco, Italy, Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria, and Switzerland (all done during my childhood via family vacations or high school class trips).
Since then, I’ve visited Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Jamaica, Haiti, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. Still a long way to go, but 20+ countries is a pretty nice dent when some people never even leave their State/Province let alone their country.
Absolutely! I’m up to 33 now and people often comment they thought it would be more. I say, I’m pretty happy with that number, ha! I go slow, and I keep going back to the same places, just the way I like it.
If you really don’t mind me asking, how did you afford to do all of this travel? I’d love to travel like this someday! Saving my pennies now to live this kind of life. The world has so much to offer and so much to teach us! 🙂
Hey Melissa! I don’t mind you asking at all — in fact, I wrote a post about it that you can find here!
Also, if you plan on coming back to Canada, Newfoundland is such a lovely place to be! The icebergs in May, June and July are some of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen!
Actually, I’m headed there this August! Stay tuned 🙂
Great List and really cool how you started traveling at such a young age. Would be great to see some more pictures and what you did in each place. I really liked how you included a personal snipet from each place.
Hey Michelle! You can see tons more photos and stories from each of these countries by clicking on the links in the post — they will bring you to a full category page on each! Hope that makes sense — if not, check out my destinations page for more info!
This is a very interesting post! I’m 19 years old and so far I’ve been starting to travel a lot. Recently, I went to Japan all by myself and I would HIGHLY suggest every solo female traveler to visit Japan or really anyone in general. It is so safe and it is in fact one of the most peaceful places in the world 🙂 Crime rates are so rare and walking the streets of Tokyo even late at night is safe as well.
That’s great to know Lean! Thanks for the suggestion 🙂
This is an amazing list for your first 11 countries! I do take living in the UK and being able to fly to another country so easily for granted! Although it means my list isn’t half as varied as yours, it’s so easy for me to stay in Europe! Happy travelling! X
I don’t blame you — I’d be all over those cheap flight deals if I were in Europe!
Resently, I visited the US, 3 states in as many weeks, excluding drive through states Philadelphia and Delaware, visiting family.
The first country I visited though was Grand Cayman, volunteering at a church summer school for 2 weeks. The friends I made took me to Smith Cove and Camana Bay. Drove around. Also went on a glass bottom boat tour at the Harbour and Pedro Castle with the kids. Had a really good time. Hopefully next time I can see the turtles and visit further west.
Grand Cayman is amazing! I’ve been several times now but have yet to visit the sister islands. Need to make that a priority for the next trip.
Did you get a stamp in your passport when you went to Canada? If so, I’m insanely jealous! I crossed over into Vancouver and didn’t get a stamp, my passport is still naked 🙁
Hm, good question, I’d have to check! I’m always bummed when they don’t stamp too, ha.
It is incredible that you traveled to Spain when you were 11 years old and wrote it. Surely reading it after many years still brings back memories and you have a different vision than you had when you were little. Now that I see this, I would have liked to do the same with that age. Surely I would remember things and places that now I only remember very little.
I love the post. Congratulations!
I love finding my childhood versions of a travel blog 😉 They sure crack me up. Thanks Antonio!