Last year, for my 30th birthday, I decided to set myself the goal of seeing 100 countries before I’m 40. I calculated that I needed to visit at almost eight countries a year for the ten years. Well, I’m eight months into this project and I haven’t visited a single new country. Actually, I haven’t even left New Zealand in the last eight months. While we’re about to embark on a long term, slow travel, round the world adventure (mouthful), we’re starting in a country that I’ve been to before. So, I’m still not closer to my 100 country goal. In order to reach my goal I’ve been thinking about how to visit multiple countries in a short amount of time.
Here are some ideas I had for quickly increasing the amount of countries you’ve visited:
Take a Cruise
Cruising is the ultimate way of visiting a series of countries in quick succession. Caribbean cruises in particular give you access to countries that are much harder to visit independently unless you’re just flying in and flying out for a resort vacation. A typical 10-night Caribbean cruise will take you through five to seven countries. On top of that, cruises are actually a really affordable way to travel. The general rule for cruises is that anything under $50 per person per night is a bargain.
Look for Interesting Stop Overs
Uncheck the box in flight search engines that looks for direct flights only and you might be able to find yourself an interesting stop over in a country you’d never otherwise have visited. If you’re travelling between Europe and Asia, the Middle Eastern airlines often have the best prices anyway. When else are you going to get the chance to visit Kuwait, Qatar or Saudi Arabia? If you’re travelling between America and Europe, it’s often much cheaper to book a flight with a stopover in a European city than it is to fly direct. Iceland and Ireland are interesting options.
Travelling overland, while slower, is the ultimate way of seeing more countries than you would by flying. For short journeys in Europe, travelling by car or train instead of plane will allow you to trek through a few new countries. Instead of whizzing through, take the time to stop in each country you’ll pass through. If you’re not scared of long journeys, instead of flying from Europe to Asia, you could tackle it by train. The Man in Seat 61 has plenty of info on how to reach Asia by train from Europe.
Travel in Europe
There are 50 countries in Europe but the whole continent is only just bigger than the United States. That means there are lots of countries in close proximity to one another. All the little principalities and city states mean Europe offers more bang for your buck. San Marino and Vatican City both sit inside Italy, Monaco hovers on the edge of France and tiny Andorra is squished between Spain and France. This makes it easy to tack on visits to smaller countries.
Hi Bethaney, nice post there and while I’m not a flashpacker, more of a scrounging backpacker, I agree with all the points youve made. Some cities and countries can be done on a 2 day stopover, but the best way as you have mentioned is to do Europe – add Liechtenstein and Luxembourg to your list of small countries too.
I’ve managed to visit 70 countries so far across all 7 continents and am also aiming for 100 before I turn 40. I’ll need to average 4-5 new ones per year to make it.
Cruising is beyond my budget but definitely a good tips – especially the Caribbean as there are about 20 island countries in a small geographic area.
The thing that will be argued is that going to more countries doesnt make you more well travelled than staying in one for longer. But I always disagree with that. Visiting 3 cities in 2 countries is ALWAYS more diverse than visiting 6 cities in the same country and thats the logic I travel by. Safe travels, Jonny (a fellow traveller and blogger)
Hey Jonny! Great to meet another “100 before 40” traveller!! When I’ve looked into it I’m actually surprised at how cheap cruising is, but maybe that’s because I’m travelling as a family and not solo.
What other tips do you have for getting my country count up? I really don’t think it’s overly ambitious especially as we’re about to launch into full time travel. Some will always disagree but I’m with you!
Good question Bethaney! I actually don’t like going to countries for the sake of it, or just to tick them off but I also like bumping up my country count so I’f kind of in the middle. My tips, which kind of repeat most of what you’ve said:
– make sure the next 5 countries you visit are ALL NEW (for a start and you can revisit old ones after that)
– stop overs (like you say…places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Macao, Brunei are all small countries and can be an ideal 2-3 day stopover)
– small countries (Luxembourg, San Marino, Liechtetc..)
– Limit yourself to 1-2 weeks per country until you hit the 100 (then you can go back and spend longer in those countries and see more)
– Get visas in advance (this way you know you really will visit that country as it’s been an effort and a cost to buy the visa so no point in wasting it)
– Do a short holiday (5-6 days) to visit a friend in a new country
I’ll get connected to you on social media – at least we both share the love of travel albeit on different budgets and with different people! Jonny
We couldn’t have agreed more with you – we have actually used the four tips you have written ourselves too. Living in London, it’s easier to go on a weekend getaway to a new country 🙂 A short flight and voila, you are in a new country. My aim was 30 before 30 and we managed to complete 37 before turning 30 a few months ago. Now, as with you, it’s 100 before 40 for us 🙂
Another area for getting your “country counter” up is South East Asia 🙂
We are on to our next cruise tomorrow and although we won’t be covering any new country, we will be going to new cities which is also equally exciting – it’s a new place after all 🙂
We should start a little group of bloggers who are on the 100 countries before 40 quest!!
I am turning 40 this summer and I have visited 40 countries. Perhaps because I keep returning to the ones I love!!