World Travel Challenge

World Travel Challenge – 50 Countries

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.


Countries Visited

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:

World Travel Challenge Map

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

  • Books
    1. Where to go When tells you the best places in the world to travel by month.
    2. Destinations of a Lifetime is a beautiful book of world travel inspiration.
    3. 50 States 5,000 Ideas is perfect if you are doing a U.S. state challenge.
    4. 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 Use it to figure out where you have been around the world and where you want to travel to next.
  • Instagram
    1. Look up travel hashtags around the world for the countries you want to visit (ex. #dubai #visitdubai #emirates)
    2. Search by location (ex. Dubai, Burj Khalifa).
    3. Look at accounts that specialize in an area or on world travel (ex. @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.
    4. 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!

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  • Reply
    kara fox
    May 25, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    love that you have addressed carbon footprint consideration in your plan,

    • Reply
      May 28, 2019 at 4:58 pm

      Thank you. I think it’s so important to consider our impact on the world 😊

  • Reply
    May 3, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    I’m loving all your travel photos Jen. What a great challenge to set yourself! Looking forward to seeing where you go next.

    • Reply
      May 5, 2019 at 1:26 am

      Thanks Lisa! You’re so sweet!

  • Reply
    January 30, 2019 at 12:23 am

    Would love to take on this challenge though I have to consider my little children. Most importantly a travel buddy would be ideal who has the same passion to wander around. I also don’t like repeating the same destination because I think there is still a lot to explore.

    • Reply
      February 18, 2019 at 2:57 am

      When you have little kids, the challenge needs to be nearby or involve them. When my kids were little I got a book with 101 things to do in Los Angeles and did those. A friend of mine did a road trip through all 50 states with her kids. I never could have done that 🤣 Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Reply
    January 25, 2019 at 12:11 am

    I’m not so interested in counting countries but there are a lot of places I’d love to visit, like Thailand (I just read your other post). This year, we’re leaving NYC and we’ll be traveling through Latin America, looking for a place we’d like to live.

    • Reply
      January 26, 2019 at 12:35 pm

      Everyone has different goals and different travel plans and that’s wonderful. It’s all about what works for you and what you want to do! Latin America sounds amazing, there’s so much to see. I’m so excited for you guys and I can’t wait to see a post about it in the future!

  • Reply
    Ziba Lennox
    January 23, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    I love this post Jenifer! I love seeing your pictures on Instagram but it’s so awesome to read about the process and BTS here! xo Ziba

    • Reply
      January 26, 2019 at 12:27 pm

      Thank you so much, I’m so glad you liked them! I hope the information was helpful.

  • Reply
    January 19, 2019 at 3:12 am

    This is superb dear! I’d love to take on this challenge, so much adventure out there!

    • Reply
      January 21, 2019 at 2:14 am

      Thank you Jessica! You definitely have amazing trips that are so inspirational!

  • Reply
    Kelsey Bang
    January 17, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    what a fun post! I love traveling around the globe!

    • Reply
      January 17, 2019 at 7:50 pm

      Thanks Kelsey! Glad you liked it!

  • Reply
    January 17, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    Wow. You already went to so many countries.
    This challenge is really exciting tho !
    Can’t wait to see your adventures.

    • Reply
      January 17, 2019 at 7:31 pm

      Thanks for reading Margot!

  • Reply
    January 17, 2019 at 7:57 am

    This is the kind of challenge I like to do 🙂

    xx Alyssa

    • Reply
      January 17, 2019 at 7:51 pm

      That’s so great Alyssa! Always fun to have a challenge to plan and do!

  • Reply
    January 16, 2019 at 8:12 pm

    You are really organized when it comes to planning trips! Visiting 50 countries sounds so exciting and that’s great that you already have where you want to go planned out. My travel goal is to visit all 50 states, so thank you so much for the book recommendation! I hope you have the best time traveling and I can’t wait to see all the places you go to!

    x Kara

    • Reply
      January 16, 2019 at 9:20 pm

      Thanks Kara! I like to plan my travel so I don’t miss things but I also like to leave room for unexpected experiences (usually the best part). 50 states is such a great thing to do! Mixing it up with big trips like Alaska to road trips that hit a bunch of spots makes it all so much fun. Enjoy!!

  • Reply
    Emily Hein
    January 16, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    I never considered visiting so many countries, but now I am inspired to set some goals. It’s truly a wonderful thing to visit different parts of the world and learn about all different people, and cool to learn about their customs, traditions, and beliefs! Which has been one of your favorite countries to travel to? I would love to know! Also, thanks for sharing all these helpful tips!

    • Reply
      January 16, 2019 at 9:30 pm

      Seeing different countries and cultures is so exciting. It’s hard to pick favorites because I loved so many but… Peru and Macchu was incredible. It’s gorgeous, the food is great and the way of life is so different from ours. Morocco was a trip of a lifetime. We rode camels into the Saraha desert, slept in tents and riads, sand boarded down 200 foot dunes, and saw the coolest cities like Marrakesh! Iceland had the most amazing waterfalls and landscapes I’ve ever seen. Bali is a place I could absolutely move to. The people, the laid back lifestyle and the gorgeous beaches were the best! This could be a blog post of an answer, so maybe I’ll actually write one. Thanks for reading and asking! Hope you get to travel to lots of terrific places. xx Jenifer

  • Reply
    Barbara Eskowitz
    January 16, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    I love this world travel challenge and goal you have set – visiting 50 countries in your 50s and taking us on the journey with you! Sounds amazing and exciting all at the same time. You go girl! xx

    • Reply
      January 16, 2019 at 9:30 pm

      Thank you so much Barbara!

  • Reply
    January 16, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    All I can say is that you are lucky you’ve been to so many places already. What an experience it must be. I love traveling and if time and money was not a problem, I would travel all over the world. I still try to travel every summer and see at least one new country. Happy Wednesday dear. xx

    • Reply
      January 16, 2019 at 9:57 pm

      I completely agree Nina. It’s hard to find the time and money to travel, especially to far away destinations. One new country a year is amazing. It allows you to really enjoy the experience without it breaking the bank. Now that my kids are grown, I’m getting the opportunity to indulge my wanderlust spirit.Thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    Dessy Markova
    January 16, 2019 at 10:00 am

    This idea is great! So happy to see you travel so much. Bring so much value to a person. Wish you even more travels in 2019 and keep it up Jen xoxo

    Dessy Markova

    • Reply
      January 16, 2019 at 9:58 pm

      Thanks Dessy. I love how travel expands us as humans. I’m really looking forward to all the new experiences. Thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    Kathrine Eldridge
    January 16, 2019 at 1:00 am

    You are a travel queen! I would love to visit even 10 countries. I applaud you for wanting to explore. I hope to someday do a challenge like this too!

    • Reply
      January 16, 2019 at 1:18 am

      Thank you Kathrine! The great thing about travel challenges is they can be whatever you want, even going on all the hikes around you or visiting all the museums in an area. It’s just a framework to get you doing something you might not have done otherwise. Thanks so much for reading.

  • Reply
    January 15, 2019 at 11:53 pm

    Such a fun idea! I did more than 30 countries by age 30 but haven’t thought about my next travel challenge yet!

    • Reply
      January 16, 2019 at 12:18 am

      Thank you, I’m glad you liked it. Your challenge is so cute, I really like it. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do next!

  • Reply
    January 15, 2019 at 8:14 pm

    I absolutely love your world travel challenge. And I can’t wait to follow along with you when you go to all these fabulous countries!

    • Reply
      January 15, 2019 at 10:10 pm

      Thank you! I’m so excited for it. Love all the possibilities that come along with journey!

  • Reply
    January 15, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    What fun ideas! 36 countries is pretty impressive! Also like your comment on traveling and reducing carbon footprint too! 😊

    • Reply
      January 15, 2019 at 10:14 pm

      Thank you Kelly! I have the most massive case of wanderlust but it’s so important to me to be a respectful traveler.

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