Life List: One Country, One Year

Santorini Greece

Just a few days ago, I had the opportunity to take a photo that millions of people have seen splashed across travel brochures the world over.

I was standing in the sunshine in a white-washed city with royal blue cupolas. The tiered city overlooks a caldera filled with the Aegean Sea. It is called Oia on the small but famous island, Santorini.

Greece has thousands of islands, and Santorini is one of them.

Like many people, I’d seen photos of Santorini growing up, but I didn’t know where it was. And, even a month and a half ago, when we booked plane tickets to Greece and ferry tickets to Santorini from Crete, another nearby Greek island, I didn’t necessarily have an urge to visit.

But my passion for travel combined with my resolve to live life completely and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves led me to be in this particular city on this particular island in this particular country on this particular continent in this great big world we live in.

And what a beautiful world it is, with so many things to experience and see.

After my brief trip to Poland earlier this year, I realized I was enticingly close to marking something off of my Life List: Travel to as many countries as I am years old.

At the time, I scribbled out a quick list and found I was just a few countries short of reaching this goal. It turns out, my calculations were wrong: No, unfortunately I am not younger than I thought I am, but I have been to more countries than I originally noted.

And so, after our recent 10-day holiday in Greece, in which I walked along Oia’s cobblestone pathways, I can officially say that I have been to as many countries as I am years old. At age 35, I’ve have been to 35 different countries.

This may be the only time I publicly share how old I am. But it also goes to show how much of the world I have left to explore. There are so many places I want to visit (and revisit), and I am so thankful for the chance to live in a place with accessibility and time to travel more often.

In honor of this monumental Life List achievement, I thought I’d share all of the countries I’ve been to, in chronological order. (Also, I’m not keen on arguing semantics about the United Kingdom. Just let me enjoy this moment.)

  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3. England
  4. Bahamas
  5. Australia
  6. Denmark
  7. Sweden
  8. Norway
  9. Mexico
  10. Kenya
  11. Uganda
  12. South Korea
  13. Peru
  14. Honduras
  15. Turks and Caicos
  16. Jamaica
  17. Switzerland
  18. Vietnam
  19. Curacao
  20. Dominican Republic
  21. Costa Rica
  22. Cook Islands
  23. Iceland
  24. Ireland
  25. France
  26. Belgium
  27. Netherlands
  28. Ecuador
  29. Cayman Islands
  30. Austria
  31. Germany
  32. Czech Republic
  33. Ukraine
  34. Poland
  35. Greece

A few interesting facts about this Life List milestone:

  • I didn’t visit my third country until I was in high school.
  • I didn’t visit my sixth country until I was 20 years old. The vast majority of my international travel experiences have been as an adult.
  • Yes, I have been to six continents. Yes, I want to visit all seven. That’s another Life List dream.
  • Of the countries I’ve been to, the only one I really, truly have no interest in revisiting is Curacao.
  • Though I have no “favorite” country, Norway, the Cook Islands and Iceland are among my favorites.
  • None of these are “only in the airport” countries, however, I’ve never actually stepped foot in France. I took the train across it and spent a few hours watching it pass by through a window.
  • I have ridden trains on five continents.
  • I’ve defended cruises before, and I’ll do it again here: Though you certainly can’t experience much local color from port stops, cruising has allowed me to visit the Bahamas twice, Turks and Caicos and the Cayman Islands (Grand Cayman). Technically, my week in Ecuador (the Galapagos Islands) was aboard a cruise as well.

The real question, of course, is summed up in the words of my favorite poet, Carl Sandburg: “Where to? what next?”

2 Responses to “Life List: One Country, One Year”

  1. tim

    35 countries – that is something to be proud of – well done! (FYI – I’ve heard others say the same about Curacao)

    • JoAnna

      Thanks for getting in touch, Tim. I feel like Curacao is a mixed bag – people either seem to love it or hate it. There’s just something about it that really didn’t sit well with me.


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