One of my wonderful friends (love ya Vicky) asked me to list how many countries I’ve been to, and it was fun to sit down and write it all out.

I had calculated that the number was close to 40 countries, or less than 20% of the world, but I hadn’t saved a full list for my own reference. After all, the beauty of making a travel list is watching it grow and looking forward to the day when you can say, “See? Grandma was pretty cool!” to your not-so-easily impressed teenage grandchildren.

I started making a travel list when I was 17 years old and was getting ready to go on my first international trip, a tour of Europe with Baylor University.  As I grew older, and traveled more, the list grew longer and longer.  When I lived in London and later in Seoul, I carved out time to cross off most of the places on my list.  I did, however, save a few, with the hopes of sharing new travel experiences with a husband and/or kids one day.

Which places did I leave on my list, you ask?  I plan on revealing those at a later time.  For now, I present my travel list as of June 2011, at the age of 28 and 11 years after my first trip.  The grand total comes to 36 (40 if you count Caribbean territories and Gibraltar),with hopefully more to be added in time.  I’ve counted a couple of countries from when I was actually heading somewhere else, but had a long layover to do a little shopping. The list also includes countries of the UK listed out separately–yes, I know that the UK is technically considered one country, but anyone who has been to the different areas will, I think, agree with me that they should be counted as separate experiences.  (If you have a death wish, for instance, ask a Scot if he tells everyone that he’s British).

My travel list, ladies and gentlemen:

  1. The United States (obviously)
  2. Canada
  3. Mexico
  4. Chile
  5. Argentina
  6. Brazil
  7. Italy
  8. Vatican City (Holy See)
  9. France
  10. Spain
  11. Portugal
  12. Monaco
  13. Ireland
  14. England
  15. Northern Ireland
  16. Scotland
  17. Wales
  18. Germany
  19. Poland
  20. Norway
  21. Greece
  22. Austria
  23. Turkey
  24. Russia
  25. Morocco
  26. Egypt
  27. South Korea
  28. North Korea (South Korean guards allowed me to stand in North Korean territory at the DMZ—Demilitarized Zone, a.k.a. the tensest place I’ve ever been to)
  29. Taiwan (flight layover)
  30. Vietnam (two flight layovers)
  31. Japan
  32. China
  33. Thailand
  34. Cambodia
  35. Indonesia
  36. India
Places that aren’t technically countries, but sure were fun to explore:
  1. Grand Cayman Islands
  2. St. Croix
  3. St. Thomas
  4. Gibraltar
Let me stress, however, that whether you’ve been to one country other than your own, or all of them, the important thing is that you learned something from each place you’ve been to.  The purpose of traveling should never be to cross something off of a “To Do” list–it should be to get out of your comfort zone, explore something new, and possibly discover something about yourself along the way.
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