“I was 19 when my grandmother’s youngest brother turned 75. Uncle Jim, dressed in coat tails and a top hat, greeted his many guests with a tap dance and his famous smile. In his speech, he talked about his military career, his stint living in Europe, his kids and grandchildren, and his most formative experiences. He had 82 countries all around the world, and I decided that, apart from having his blue eyes, I would also 75 nations by the time I reached three-quarters of a century.
75 foreign countries is daunting when you’re a sophomore journalism student, so I scaled down my goal: 25 countries before August 15th, 2010. I had five-and-a-half years, a summer abroad in Spain and a blank passport. Ten North American and European countries gave me a good head start.
After studying abroad, I hit a stalemate. Still at ten countries, having chosen domestic travel, I decided to move abroad after graduating. I found a job as a North American Language Assistant in Spain, working 12 hours a week at a rural high school outside Seville.
I reached my goal on March 31st, 2010, on my best friend’s birthday, interestingly. She and I together for the first time, and we’ve challenged each other to this seemingly monumental task. I sighed with relief as I entered Prague’s central bus station at dawn, feeling like I’d run a marathon. I did it.
My memories seem to take over as my possessions as I continue to move around the Earth.”
(original article published on Backpacking Matt on July 19th, 2010)
When I moved abroad at age 22, my goals were simple: to learn Spanish and to 25 countries before my 25th birthday on August 15th, 2010. Along the way, I’ve picked up countless momentos, experienced things I’d never imagined trying or doing, ate food that might have made a normal gag, and felt the exhilaration of setting foot in a new place, ready to be explored through the lenses of my trusty Canon Rebel, Camarón.
As I approach age thirty, My new goal is to tally up five more stamps in my passport. Filling one – the passport I was given at age 20 that contains my original visa from Spain – was the realization of a dream to see the world. Cliché, sure, but a freedom, a privilege and a raison d’être.
: On March 25th, 2013, a disgruntled border patrol in Montenegro stamped my beat-up passport with extra pages. The stamp is barely legible, but it’s there. I reached 30 countries 30 months before turning 30, so here’s to another five in those months!
CURRENT COUNTRY COUNT – 34
LATEST COUNTRY: Sweden
(Note: I use the Traveler’s Century Club‘s country list to base my conclusions on whether or not a territory is, in fact, considered a country, hence the inclusion of Monaco and the Vatican City).