50 Countries by 30 Bucket List

I have a goal of visiting 50 countries before I turn 30. As my 28th birthday rolls around, this goal is seemingly more and more unlikely… I have 2 years left to travel to 9 countries. At this point, it would be exciting to hit the goal, but (get ready for a cliche) it has become more about the journey and the experience in each of the countries that I have visited.

What started out as an arbitrary bucket list item has become a really fun way to plan family vacations. My dad and I have a friendly competition to see who can hit 50 countries first and my parents and I frequently discuss the next country on our hit list. As a result, my mom and I had a mother-daughter trip to Turkey two years ago and last year we had a mini family vacation in Iceland.

As I’m thinking about my next trip and how to inch closer to my 50 countries, I thought I would reminisce about my all-time favorite trips:

  1. Ito, Japan (2000)
    No photos because this trip was a loooong time ago. We flew to Tokyo, took a train, took another train, and was picked up at a bus stop. We stayed in a Japanese guest house where no one spoke a lick of English; we slept on tatami mats; we wore yukata (dress-down kimono) every day and visited local hot springs. It was a true cultural immersion and just a great relaxing trip.
  2. Damascus, Syria (2010)
    While I was studying abroad in Jordan, my friends and I took a weekend trip to Damascus. The people were extremely welcoming and the sights were beautiful. The city’s modern and vibrant atmosphere seemed like a juxtaposition against the backdrop of the historical souks and mosques. Part of my favorites list because I feel so fortunate I was able to visit before the Syrian Civil War. I can only hope that the country will be given the chance to rebuild and recover.
  3. Big Sur, USA (2016)
    To end on a more light-hearted note… My boyfriend and I went on a road trip last spring and ended our trip in Big Sur. We drove along the treacherous Highway 1 (ok, he drove and I panicked), overlooking the electric blue Pacific Ocean. We hiked along the hills and the sea in the Andrew Molera State Park and wandered among the huge Redwoods in Pfeiffer State Park. It was an adventurous hiking trip with nonstop views of nature-y things. It’s a not-so-secret coastal gem.

A solid trip to Eastern Europe or South America should easily whittle down my list, especially now that I have so much free time. Any recommendations?


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