Would you like to see 50 new countries? That’s our current travel challenge. We’ve been lucky to travel to some great places and now after raising kids, we’ve decided to hit the road again and expand our world view.
Here’s the real question – do you have a travel goal of your own? Do you dream of seeing the 7 Wonders of the World or traveling to all 50 States? I’m sharing the details of our world travel challenge with planning tips so we can all accomplish our wanderlust dreams.
How the Whole Travel Challenge Started
When a friend made a comment about visiting all 50 States, it really struck me. I had never thought about it, which is funny because it’s on a lot of bucket lists. I went home to see how many states Guy and I had visited – around 40. Of course, my little motivated self now needed to go to all 50.
We set up 3 trips to see the last 10 states. The first trip was a midwest loop – drop the kid off at college in Wisconsin then Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri.
We had some great experiences like Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que in a gas station with a line out the door because it’s really that good. Seeing a Royals game the year they ended up going to the World Series – apparently we are good luck charms. And finding out that downtown Omaha is so charming.
The final trip being 10 days in Alaska. It definitely pushed us to take the trip we had been putting off (Alaska) and find interesting sights in places we had never considered trip worthy.
Our World Travel Challenge – 50 Countries in Our 50s
When we started the challenge, there were so many people living as world travel nomads, doing things like 100 countries before they’re 30 or going to all 195 countries. We want our challenge to be a framework but truly want to experience the places we visit. And we only want to go to places that are safe! 50 new countries over a span of 10 years is doable and exciting. It’s small enough to get to know the destinations and it’s big enough to be a challenge.
What Counts as a Country?
This may sounds like a silly question but there are many sources that vary on what is actually a country. The United Nations has 193 member countries and 2 observer countries, Holy See (the Vatican) and Palestine. So what is not a country? A territory of another country like Puerto Rico, Cayman Islands or Aruba.
Since Guy and I have been to different countries, I’m sharing this from my point of view. So far, I have been to 32 countries plus 14 new countries since the challenge started – Belize, Bosnia, Croatia, Cuba, Egypt, Guatemala, Indonesia, Jamaica, Jordan, Malta, Montenegro, Portugal, Singapore and Turkey. I will travel to 36 more countries over the next 8.5 years, which will bring my world total to 82. Here’s where I’ve been so far:
Some Travel Challenge Ideas
- All 195 Countries or a certain amount of countries
- 7 Continents
- 7 Wonders of the World – Great Wall of China, Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, Machu Piccu in Peru, Chichen Itza in Mexico, The Colosseum in Rome, Taj Mahal in India, Petra in Jordan
- The Seven Summits – a climbing challenge around the world
- 50 states, 50 states by a certain age, 50 Marathons in 50 states
Executing a Travel Challenge
Planning – A travel challenge that has you going all over the world is most rewarding if it is well planned. Some things to consider:
- Time – Depending on when and for how long you can take a vacation, time is a huge consideration. For some, taking a longer trip and visiting multiple countries in a region will work better. For others, it might be multiple trips around school vacations.
- Money – Some people can spend whatever they want and others are on a strict budget. Do you want to go places in the shoulder season for lower costs and less crowds? Do you want to go somewhere that planning ahead is essential for lower price accommodations?
- Festivals and Events – In addition to making a list of countries I want to visit, I also made a list of the time of year I might like to be there. For instance, the Lantern Festival in Chang Mai is in November. The lavender in Provence is at it’s peak in July. I’ve already been to Thailand and France but I will probably visit countries near there during those times.
- Carbon Footprint – For me it’s important to take into account the impact of my activities on the world. I don’t want to fly somewhere, come home and go back to that same vicinity later. It’s just being a better world citizen to plan out my travel to minimize the amount of flying.
Helpful Tools for World Travel
- Where to go When tells you the best places in the world to travel by month.
- Destinations of a Lifetime is a beautiful book of world travel inspiration.
- 50 States 5,000 Ideas is perfect if you are doing a U.S. state challenge.
- Here’s a great list of books about travel and self discovery that will definitely give you some inspiration.
- World Travel Maps – to chart your progress Scratch Off Travel Map or Where I’ve Been App.
- List Challenges – My favorite but addictive website with lots of lists is listchallenges.com. Use it to figure out where you have been around the world and where you want to travel to next.
- Look up travel hashtags around the world for the countries you want to visit (ex. #dubai #visitdubai #emirates)
- Search by location (ex. Dubai, Burj Khalifa).
- Look at accounts that specialize in an area or on world travel (ex. @visit.dubai @beautifuldestinations) Many of these will have photos from other Instagram accounts. If you find something you like, click on the owner’s account and you will often find tons of photos/information.
- Click on the link in Instagram bios of the accounts you like to get to websites and blog posts that are filled with more information.
- Pinterest – This is a great place to find images to pin into your own travel folders. Search by location and click through the images to find helpful travel websites that reach every corner of the world.
FAQs About Our World Travel
Why are you doing it?
First, we love travel and have a serious case of wanderlust. Second, we never know how long we’ll be on the planet or how long we’ll be healthy enough to travel. No time like the present!
How do you afford to travel so much?
There are 2 things that make our travels less expensive – We have been travel hacking for more than 10 years, earning miles to travel from credit cards and getting flights and hotels for almost free. We also partner up with hotels and tourism boards for some trips as travel bloggers.
Have you had any problems traveling?
I would be lying if I said travel is all roses. Let’s face it, we’re talking about airplanes, airports, crowds, weather and all kinds of other things that give everyone trouble. I’ve gotten food poisoning in Cuba, missed a few flights and was actually bitten by a panda in China. But…there’s almost nothing I’d rather do than travel so I take it in stride.
Do you take all your trips together?
We travel on most trips together but I usually stay longer since Guy has to go back to work.
Do you miss home?
I definitely miss home sometimes. I talk to my kids and mom all the time when I’m gone. Thank goodness for FaceTime. I also miss my dogs (yes, I FaceTime with them too and I love being too far away to pick up dog poop). I’m usually with Guy so he’s kind of like having home with me. I also have some really great girlfriends that I chat with when I have access to wifi calling. And I love catching up with everyone else each time I get back.
You seem like you travel a lot. Will it really take you 10 years to visit 50 countries?
Honestly, I think we’ll finish the 50 countries faster than 10 years based on the pace so far but I wanted to set a goal that was really achievable. We also still visit places we’ve already been and we local trips too like Glamping in Big Sur.
If this post inspires you to go somewhere great, we’re thrilled and always happy to answer questions if you have any. Happy travels!