I’ve been reminiscing a lot recently.
I’ve also been looking forward to the next few months, and the realisation that I’ll be 30 at the beginning of next year made me think of my gradually-forgotten goal of visiting 30 countries, which I assumed would be long reached by now.
The truth is, I stopped country-counting a while ago, especially when I made a fun map which informed me that I’ve been to 29 countries when my own list tallies up to 28. The additional one is the Isle Of Man, which I’m not really convinced about. I mean, it’s not the UK, and it has its own government, but is it its own country? I don’t need a passport to go there. And so, does Gibraltar count? Should my total really be 27?
At this point, I waved my hands in the air, exasperated, and threw my pen down and decided I don’t care. But I kind of do. I want to visit 30 countries, and instead I’m spending this year in two countries I’ve already been to.
…While simultaneously considering going back to Vietnam for my 30th. Another repeat country. All this world to explore, and I’ve fallen in love with so many places within 30 countries (around a seventh of the world) that all I want to do is go back to them instead?!
So I’ve decided to come up with a list of countries I want to return to – and let’s face it, what’s the point in travelling if you don’t fall in love with the world?
I said it already, and I’ll say it again. Vietnam is my favourite country in the world. It almost hurts how much I want to go back, and to visit all the places we missed. Sapa, Da Lat, Phong Nha, Phu Quoc, the Hai Van pass. If we had good weather, I’d do another Halong Bay cruise. I’d spend a month in Hanoi if I could. Even longer in Hoi An.
Read more: We’re Gonna Miss You, Hanoi
Even though I spent over a year in the land down under, there is SO much I haven’t seen. I’d love to spend six weeks or so road tripping – Western Australia up to Darwin, down through the red centre, and then along the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne. I’d love to go back to Brisbane, which felt like it was just coming into adulthood when we lived there as it was a constantly changing city. I’d like to see whether it’s all grown up now.
Australia will always hold a special place in my heart, so I have no doubt I’ll be back one day.
Read more: 10 Things To Do In Brisbane
Unbelievably, I’ve spent less than a week in Italy in total. What is more alarming is that I’ve been there three times. So – before I can declare it one of my favourite countries (because it kind of is), I really need to spend some quality time there.
I’ve wanted to do a northern Italy road trip for years, but it’s one of those plans that’s never quite come to fruition because, let’s face it, I have too many other plans. But now that I’m “working holiday”-ed out, I think this’ll be high up on the list!
What a surprise, said no one ever. Of course I loved Iceland. The only thing is, we visited in the winter, and I think it would be even more spectacular in the summer. Naturally, I want to drive the whole ring road, although even if that doesn’t happen then I at least would like to see more of the south coast, and even spend more time in Reykjavik. Our first Iceland trip was full of tours (one of them being an AWESOME quad biking tour!) so we barely spent any time in town except to see our two Icelandic friends! And visit the penis museum, obviously.
The truth is, I absolutely loved Reykjavik, and I’d definitely like to have a couple of days downtime just to explore, take pretty photos, and maybe fill myself up with those famous hot dogs.
Read more: Iceland Was Everything I Expected And More
I am really, really glad we went to New Zealand. We had a great time there and I did tons of awesome stuff from Hobbiton to the Weta Workshop to Mount Sunday to sky diving over the most spectacular scenery it’s possible to sky dive over.
But – despite two of those being fairly expensive – we visited on a total budget, and I wish that we a) hadn’t, and b) had planned a couple of things better. Two of my total regrets are missing Roy’s Peak (which was already an Instagram darling back then, but gee whiz if the popularity of it now makes me almost not want to go) and the hooker valley trail to Mount Cook (which we couldn’t get to by bus). So those are two things to go back for straight off the bat; let alone blowing all my money on crazy activities like the canyon swing that I meant to do, flying a stunt plane, and zorbing in the town it was invented in.
If I wasn’t 30 next year, I’d totally consider a working holiday there. But the truth is, we do want to settle down, and I don’t think I can handle any more of this whole setting myself up in a new country and looking for temporary jobs. Especially a country that’s literally the opposite side of the world to most people I know. I coped in Australia, but Vancouver’s time difference is hard enough.
Prague was actually one of the first European cities I ever visited – and it was purely by chance that I had made friends from there when I worked on the camp in America, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have thought about going when I did. But it was a grand choice, if I do say so myself.
But Ash has never been, so that’s reason enough to go back, right? Throw in the fact it’s one of my favourite cities and we’re good to go. Oh, and it was winter and I was with my ex (but which is colder? Har har).
I’ve seen more and more cropping up about the Czech Republic recently, too. The bone church in Kutna Hora has been on my list for a long time, and I love the look of towns like Brno.
Very similarly, I visited Budapest with a friend back in 2015, and immediately wished Ash was there because I knew he would LOVE IT. I really, really, really enjoyed Budapest and ended up wishing we had more time there to explore more ruin bars and cafés! I have no doubt that I’ll be back.
At the moment, I don’t have anywhere else in Hungary on my must-do list, although I’m sure a bit of research would end in a whole lot! But after all – one of the best things about returning to a place you’ve been is you have more time to wander off the beaten path and really get to know the city and its quirks.
Read more: Adventures In Budapest
I adored Thailand. I had been a little worried after we had enjoyed Vietnam so much that I’d actually be disappointed by its big touristy almost-neighbour.
But no fear – we had so much fun in Thailand and there are so many more places we want to explore there! Central Thai towns like Sukhothai, Lopburi, Kanchanaburi. More islands like Koh Chang. I’d love to go back and spend more time on Koh Phi Phi. We could spend a MONTH on Koh Tao (now there’s an idea).
Read more: Koh Tao: Our Favourite Thai Island
When I “lived” in Portugal last year, I fell in love with its beaches and gorgeous coast. But I also MASSIVELY fell in love with Lisbon and often find myself yearning to go back. I’d definitely spend some more time there (24 hours was not enough) and it would be fun to hire a car and explore more of the coast, as well as giving Porto a go.
And finally, the country that I’m returning to next. The US of A is a funny old country. It’s rich in history but the history doesn’t really date that far back. It has extreme culture and un-culture. It has every diverse landscape from rainforest to desert to mountains to canyons. The cities are even more famous. It’s iconic in every way.
It’s the diversity that attracts me back (because sure as hell nothing else is at the moment). I’ve had city breaks, theme park holidays and camping trips in the USA, all in totally different climates, landscapes and even cultures.
This time, I’m mostly going for the national parks, which is one thing seriously needing our help and support at the moment. This is probably my favourite thing about the US – its natural beauty from end to end.
We’ll also be hitting up a whole bunch of cities – Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, LA, Las Vegas and even New York City on the way home, to name a few!
I’m really excited for this trip, and can’t wait to share all our adventures with you!