At the age of 29 I decided that I wanted to do something big for my 30th birthday.
I had heard about “30 before 30” and was excited for the challenge. I knew that this would be particularly difficult for me as I had only a year left until I turned 30 and at that time my country count was at about 16.
I put a plan into place in order to achieve my goal before the deadline of 4 August 2015.
I decided to take two month-long trips to South East Asia and Europe. These are great places to travel as you can cover a lot of ground in a shorter amount of time.
However, not all international trips need to be long. I also took quick trips that were a week or less to New Zealand and Bali (from Brisbane), Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the Caribbean (from Dallas).
In addition to cutting back on initial transit time, another benefit of taking longer trips is that it can be more cost-effective. Especially, if you are living far away from the destinations you want to visit. This can cut down the cost of taking multiple flights to multiple destinations.
Next to flights, accommodation is one of the biggest costs associated with travelling. Central America, South East Asia and eastern European countries are all great places to travel in if you are traveling on a budget.
For more budgeting resources check out:
- Top 6 tips for finding travel accommodation on a budget
- How much it costs to backpack Central America
- A4A budgeting challenge
In the end, I managed to visit my 30th country just four days before my 30th birthday!
The majority of the 30 countries I visited were within 4 months and on 5 separate trips, one of which I had taken previously:
- 32 day camping tour of western Europe (June – July 2009)
- 1 month backpacking around South East Asia (January 2015)
- 1 week Caribbean cruise (May 2015)
- 5 weeks solo backpacking around Europe (June – July 2015)
- 1 week solo backpacking in Central America (July 2015)
30 countries before 30
Here is the list of the countries I visited, including the cities I stopped in. Some of these countries I have visited on more than one occasion, however I have included only the most recent or relevant visits.
June to July 2009 – Group tour of Europe
1. France: Paris, St Emillion, Arles and Nice.
2. Monaco: Monte Carlo casino.
3. Austria: Austria.
5. Switzerland: Jungfraujoch mountain and Lucerne.
6. Netherlands: Amsterdam.
7. Indonesia: One week vacation with friends in May 2010 to Bali and Gili Trawangan.
8. United States of America: Lived in New York City, NY from September 2011 to September 2012, Wilmington, DE from October to December 2013 and Dallas, TX from May to September 2015.
9. Brazil: Lived in Sao Paulo from September 2012 to March 2013.
January 2015 – Backpacking South East Asia
10. Thailand: Bangkok, Chang Mai and Krabi.
11. Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur.
12. Cambodia: Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.
13. Laos: Vientiane.
14. Singapore: Singapore.
15. New Zealand: Four day road trip to Auckland, Rotorua and Waitomo in March 2015.
May 2015 – Cruise of the Caribbean
16. Jamaica: Montego Bay.
17. Cayman Islands: Grand Cayman.
18. Mexico: Cozumel.
June to July 2015 – Backpacking in Europe
19. Scotland: Edinburgh and Glen Coe.
20. England: London, Salisbury and Bath.
21. Belgium: Antwerp.
22. Germany: Cologne, Hamburg and Berlin.
23. Poland: Warsaw.
24. Czech Republic: Prague.
25. Hungary: Budapest.
26. Slovenia: Ljubljana.
28. Spain: Madrid.
July 2015 – Backpacking in Central America
29. Nicaragua: July 2015 – Granada and Managua.
30. Costa Rica: July 2015 – Liberia.
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