Confession: I do keep count of the countries I’ve visited

I’ve been to 43 countries so far. Yes, I know the number off the top of my head because yes, I’m almost a little ashamed to say, I do keep count of how many countries I’ve visited. I know that a real traveller shouldn’t care about this and shouldn’t really count countries because it’s not a matter of quantity but quality that counts in travel, and I do agree with that, but I just can’t help it. And I have a suspicion that many people feel the same way!

How many countries have you visited? Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Anyway, a while back I saw that my friend Bethaney at Flashpacker Family had a great idea to post pictures of herself in each country she’d ever visited. I wanted to copy! So here goes. I thought this could serve as both a record of how many countries I’ve been to but also a bit of summary of the best bits I’ve seen.

1. Australia

Obviously Australia is number one because I was born here, and now live here again, too. I’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of my enormous country. As a kid, we had a two-month campervan trip from Perth along the southern coast and up the east coast (and back again the same way, because it was the wrong season to try to drive across the north). As an adult, I’ve holidayed at Uluru and had two road trips around Tasmania, I’ve been to outback South Australia and have had numerous trips to Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Back home in Western Australia I’ve spent lots of time in the south-west, seen the Pilbara but still really want to get up to the Kimberly region.

Australia - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Tasmanian beach and me with a wombat, my favourite Australian animal

2. Hong Kong

Hong Kong – back when it was more independent than it is now – was the first foreign country I’d ever visited, when we were en route to Europe for a six-month campervanning trip. I turned nine during our three days in Hong Kong, and celebrated my birthday at the Ocean Park theme park. I’ve never been back but I’m very keen to get there soon.

Hong Kong - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

3. United Kingdom

We spent quite a few weeks in England, Scotland and Wales during my trip as a nine-year-old and since then I’ve been back to London a couple of times (most recently with a jet-lagged five-year-old), and spent an Easter in Cornwall with my Slovak friend Tatiana, walking along the cliffs from Land’s End.

United Kingdom - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

4. France

As a nine-year-old, my strongest memory of France is actually spending a couple of hours in a French school in Biarritz, after we’d met someone – the teacher, I guess – while we were staying there in our campervan. Or perhaps my parents just saw there was a school there and took us in. Since then I’ve been back to Paris a few times, quite simply because Paris has something for everybody. I also spent a long weekend in Strasbourg a few years back, which intrigued me so much with its mix of Germanness and Frenchness, and revisited for a day while in Switzerland recently.

France - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

With that French icon, the Eiffel Tower in Paris

5. Spain

When I was a kid, we didn’t spend long in Spain – though I remember celebrating my sister’s seventh birthday there. As an adult, I’ve been to Barcelona and loved it – such a colourful city and all that architecture by Gaudi was just perfect for my tastes.

Keeping count of the countries I've visited - Spain

At Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain

6. Italy

We had all kinds of fun in Italy on our family trip when I was a kid, including a ride with the local Carabinieri police when we had some trouble getting cash and petrol for our van on the May Day holiday. My only grown-up stay in Italy was a few days in Venice, a city that I loved despite it being a bit of a tourist cliche – sometimes things become cliches for a good reason!

Keeping count of the countries I've visited - Italy

Riding a gondola in Venice, Italy

7. Greece

My childhood memories of Greece are among the most romantic travel memories I have – long evenings spent on the beach at Igoumenitsa with our British friends Pookie and Jean; seeing the ancient ruins at Olympia; taking the boat to Crete. I haven’t been back as adult but desperately want to.

Greece - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

8. Austria

My first visit to Austria was as a child, but I’ve been back often. When I lived in Bratislava, I often took day trips to Vienna on the weekend, since it was a cheap one-hour train trip away. I had a gorgeous white Christmas in Austria with my sister and brother-in-law; I took my son back to Vienna for a few days on our European trip in 2013. It’s a country that’s easy for me to enjoy – I speak the language, I love the food, and the scenery’s breathtaking.

Keeping count of the countries I've visited - Austria

Christmas markets in Vienna, Austria

9. Switzerland

Switzerland rivals Greece for romantic childhood memories and it’s my mum’s favourite place in the world. For me, now, it’s the home to my sister-in-law and her family, so every time we visit it’s a place we create wonderful memories. Oh, and they have the best chocolate. What more could I want from a country?

Switzerland - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Amazing views from Mount Pilatus in Switzerland

10. Belgium

I’ve been to Belgium twice – we spent a few days there on my childhood trip around Europe, and another couple of days in combination with a Luxembourg visit when I was living in Germany. But I have to be fair and say I really haven’t explored it yet, and probably need to give it more of a chance before I say what I think – after all, it is home to Belgian chocolate which is the BEST.

Belgium - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Views from a rainy trip to Belgium

11. Germany

Well, Germany was my home for almost three years and it’s also home to the only other language I can speak fluently. I love it like a second home, even though it’s not perfect (where is?!). It’s such a varied country and often underrated by travellers, I think. It also includes my favourite city in the world, Berlin – one day I want to live there for a while!

Germany - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

12. Netherlands

I’ve been to the Netherlands a couple of times and always enjoyed it. I know the big rivalry between the Netherlands and Germany means I shouldn’t say this, but I do find plenty of similarities between the two countries – sorry! But I love all the typical Dutch stuff like windmills and tulips and cheese, and it’s also home to my favourite ever museum, Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

Netherlands - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Dutch windmills at Kinderdijk

13. Denmark

Denmark’s one of several Scandinavian countries I’ve only seen as a child and am very keen to return to. I have such fond memories of it, and as an adult have become even more intrigued by it thanks to amazing Danish television series like The Killing. And of course, the fact that it’s home to Lego means my son will absolutely have to get there some day. (Sooner rather than later!)

Denmark - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

14. Sweden

Like Denmark, I haven’t returned to Sweden as a child (and to date haven’t found any photos of me there, but I promise I was there!), but really want to. I have a great friend there who I want to visit, and hear so much good about it from other people too.

15. Norway

There are plenty of reasons why Norway is both figuratively and literally a cool place for me and I’d love to return soon. I was fascinated as a kid by the grass-roofed houses (and got such a kick out of staying in one in Iceland as an adult) and even as a nine-year-0ld the beauty of the fjords totally captivated me. High on the must-return-to list!

Norway - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Animals and grass-roofed houses from my childhood visit to Norway

16. Ireland

I have a reasonable dose of Irish ancestry in my bloodlines and I’m sure that’s part of the reason I always love returning to Ireland. My favourite trip there was a few years back to stay on the tiny island of Inis Meain with friends. I love so much about Ireland, but especially the people, who are welcoming and funny in a way that’s definitely unique to the Irish. I’m not so keen on the weather though!

Ireland - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

With my son at 3 on a beach on Inis Meain in western Ireland

17. Singapore

Being quite nearby, Singapore is a place I’ve been a few times, though always in transit from somewhere to somewhere else … but in totally I guess I’ve spent a couple of weeks there spread across various times of my life! I find it a kind of odd place in that it’s a strange mix of Asian and Western cultures, but I really like its orderliness and great range of delicious food.

Singapore - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Amazing jellyfish from the aquarium in Singapore; and me with the local ice dessert

18. Japan

I lived in Osaka and Nara in Japan for two years and this time remains one of the most marvellous periods of my life! I loved every aspect of life in Japan and travelled all around the country during my breaks from teaching. I still love Japanese food more than any other cuisine and am so very keen to return and show Japan to my son some day soon.

Japan - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Amazing autumn colours near Kyoto in Japan

19. United States

Over the years I’ve had three trips to the US so far – two along the west coast when my mum lived in California, and one to New York City and surrounds as part of my honeymoon trip. The funny thing about the US is I always enjoy it *way* more than I expect to! And I am totally besotted with New York, and have a goal to spend at least a couple of months living there some time.

United States - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Sightseeing from the Empire State Building in New York City

20. Canada

Oh, Canada! I’m sure Canada and Australia are twins separated at birth. I probably don’t have the right to say this yet after just one trip there and only seeing the west coast, but all the Canadian friends I have just make me feel like we’re so similar. Add to that the fact that Canada has spectacular natural beauty and it makes me want to go again and again. And I will definitely return sometime soon but probably not by kayak.

Keeping count of the countries I've visited - Canada

Whale watching off Vancouver Island, Canada

21. Taiwan

Taiwan was one of those lovely destinations that surprised me completely with how wonderful it was. I didn’t have any particular expectations – it was just a place that we could visit fairly cheaply and quickly from Japan, so why not try it – but it left me very keen to return. The people were friendly and the food was amazing. I spent most of my trip in Taipei but did explore a little of the east coast too.

Keeping count of the countries I've visited - Taiwan

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan

22. Vietnam

Vietnam is the best! Well, the Vietnam of about fifteen years ago at least. I suspect that some parts are now a bit over-touristed and over-resorted but when I visited, explored the Mekong and then took the train up the coast (very slowly – each train was delayed by hours and hours), and stayed in four-room hotels for $5 a night, well, then it was amazing.

Keeping count of the countries I've visited - Vietnam

Cruising the Mekong River delta in Vietnam

 

23. Russia

I feel so lucky to have visited Russia not once but twice. Taking the Trans-Siberian Railway across Russia was one of my long-term travel dreams and a true experience of a lifetime. I also love both Moscow and St Petersburg, both for different reasons, and loved being able to return with my mum in tow (and her Russian expertise) for a second look.

Keeping count of the countries I've visited - Russia

Fairy floss at Gorky Park in Moscow, Russia

24. Estonia

Estonia is a country I’ve visited twice both times because it was a convenient exit point from Russia (it’s a relatively short bus ride from St Petersburg over the border) but each time I have truly loved it. It’s a real enigma of a country, and one that seemed to experience communist times in a completely different way to the rest of the USSR, largely thanks to its closeness (geographically and otherwise) to Finland.

Estonia - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Looking over the Old Town of Tallinn, Estonia’s gorgeous capital city

25. Latvia

Latvia was a lovely surprise to me. I visited while backpacking down through the Baltics en route to my job in Slovakia; I really loved the Latvian capital, Riga, along with everything else I saw – especially two lovely Latvian men I chatted to in the coastal town of Ventspils. I’d be curious to see what Latvia is like now, with another decade-plus of post-communism under its belt.

Latvia - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Playing on the beach near Klaipeda in Latvia on the Baltic Coast

26. Lithuania

The third Baltic state I visited, Lithuania surprised me when more people spoke German as their second language than anything else. (This was handy, though, as my German was vastly better than my Russian!). While I wasn’t so enamoured with the capital, Vilnius, I particularly loved the coast and the Curonian Spit, which still intrigues me because we could see the Russian section, that funny strip of Kaliningrad which is part of Russia yet no longer joined up.

Lithuania - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Touching the Baltic Sea on the Curonian Spit in Lithuania

27. Poland

To be honest, I had no idea what to expect in Poland and really only went there because it was between the Baltic States and Slovakia. But I loved it so much! It’s a pretty large country with lots to offer, and Warsaw and Krakow are both such great cities. My experience at the Auschwitz concentration camp will always be one of the most memorable things I’ve done on my travels (not exactly in a good way, but in an important way).

Poland - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

In the Tatra Mountains near Zakopane in southern Poland

28. Slovakia

Another of my homes-away-from-home, I lived in Bratislava, Slovakia for almost a year, teaching English. I loved so much about this experience and would have stayed longer if I hadn’t got a quite elusive job in Germany. Slovakia is still relatively little-known and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I have some marvellous friends there and still return whenever I can – I got to take my son to visit my best Slovak friend a couple of years ago and it was magical to see him make friends with her daughter, despite their lack of a common language.

Slovakia - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

With my first ever snowman in Komarno, southern Slovakia

29. Czech Republic

I nearly lived in the Czech Republic; initially, after leaving Japan, I was headed to Prague as I’d been offered an English teaching job there. A month or so ahead of the start date, the school emailed to say that had over-hired for Prague and did I want to teach in Bratislava instead? As it turned out, this was a great thing. Prague is a beautiful city, but even by then was pretty covered in tourists, and while I loved visiting it, I was glad to live in low-key Bratislava instead. Having said that, I managed to explore much of the Czech Republic while I was there and it is a really gorgeous place.

Czech Republic - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

A wintry morning in Prague

30. Hungary

Hungary totally fascinated me! I got to visit a couple of times while I lived in Bratislava, but unfortunately at that time Australians still needed a visa to enter and so I was limited in how many times I could return. Budapest is a fabulous city and I also got to see rural Budapest, and bathe in amazing thermal baths at Heviz and so much more.

Hungary - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Enjoying Budapest in Hungary

31. Luxembourg

Although Luxembourg really is one of those little places that (to someone from an enormous country like Australia) really doesn’t seem like it should be an actual nation, it surprised me because it actually did seem to have its own special flavour! I only spent three days there (which I suspect is long enough to see quite a lot of it – though not to experience the real Luxembourg perhaps) but it was pretty, multicultural and friendly.

Luxembourg - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

32. Liechtenstein

Well, obviously if I thought Luxembourg is too small to be a nation, you can imagine what I think about Liechtenstein – and yet it’s quirky enough that I rather liked it, too! I really wanted to stay the night there but it was so expensive at the time I looked that I couldn’t justify it and after a day looking around went over the border to Austria and stopped there instead.

Liechtenstein - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Three views of little Liechtenstein

33. Slovenia

I loved Slovenia. I didn’t really have any expectations – visiting Slovenia was part of a bigger road trip and we really just passed through because it was on the way to Croatia – but I would now love to go back and spend some more time there. Most of my time was in lovely Ljubljana but I know there is also plenty more to see outside the capital.

Slovenia - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

At the Dragon Bridge in Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana

34. Croatia

Croatia has become massively popular in the last few years and with such good reason, and I completely agree with the hype! While the coast gets most of the attention (and it’s gorgeous, even though I struggle with the non-sand beaches), what I most fell in love with is the insanely beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park. I spent a couple of weeks camping in Croatia and it was easily one of my favourite camping trips ever. Also the scene of some life-changing stuff but that’s another story.

Croatia - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Exploring the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia

35. Bosnia-Herzegovina

I wanted to spend more time in Bosnia-Herzegovina than I did, but got waylaid by two false attempts to cross the border into Bosnia from Croatia. This meant I haven’t yet got to Sarajevo (but I still want to), but I did get to spend time in Mostar. This became more meaningful recently when I discovered a personal connection to the famous bridge – my stepmother’s Bosnian father used to be one of the crazy young men who would dive off this bridge.

Bosnia & Herzegovina - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Near the famous bridge at Mostar

36. Finland

When people ask me about my favourite trip ever, I give them a pretty long-winded answer, but it always includes a mention of a Christmas stay in Finland one year, in Lapland up near the Arctic Circle. Getting to meet the real Santa was so fun; going snowmobiling and ice fishing was hilarious; learning how to deal with the coldest temperatures I’d ever experienced was eye-opening. One day, though, I would love to see Finland in their brief summer, too.

Finland - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Freezing in mid-winter Finnish Lapland at Rovaniemi

37. Egypt

I had a very uncharacteristic resort hotel stay in Egypt. It was just after I’d started working in Germany and suddenly I had a week off work and wanted to do something – it turned out to be very cheap to fly down to Hurghada and stay in a resort on the Red Sea. I managed to fit in a day trip to Luxor and to snorkel in the Red Sea several times but it all left me hungry for more, and I know one day I will have to take my little mummy-obsessed fellow to see the pyramids too.

Egypt - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Me and a camel en route to Luxor in Egypt

38. Tunisia

I went to Tunisia a little by accident, too – I left it a bit late to look for Christmas/New Year flights out of Bratislava, when I had time off school, and the only affordable flights left were to Tunis. I’m so glad that happened, because spending a fortnight backpacking around Tunisia turned out to be one of my most fascinating travel experiences ever. I had no idea what to expect, and then every day brought something utterly different from the previous one – such an intriguing place.

Tunisia - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

At the El Jem colosseum in central Tunisia

39. South Korea

I thought I might have made a terrible effort when I landed in South Korea and discovered there was nearly “no room left at the inn” – because in my utter ignorance I had booked a week there during the World Cup when South Korea and Japan were co-hosting it. Oops! But I did find a spot to stay right in central Seoul and thoroughly enjoyed exploring all things Korean and eating the food too (although some was pretty spicy after the mild nature of Japanese food!).

South Korea - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Enjoying delicious Korean food

40. Malaysia

I can’t wait to explore more of Malaysia but so far my experience is confined to two weeks on the island of Penang, but I got to hang out with my Penang-born-and-raised friend and really discover what makes that place tick (answer: mostly it’s delicious food!). It was such a great trip, when my son was nearly four and his friend (son of my friend) was there for him to experience it all with.

Malaysia - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

41. Indonesia

I need to see more of Indonesia. So far, I’ve only been to Bali and although there were glimpses of what I imagine the real Indonesia is like there, it was hard to see through all the overdone tourist infrastructure. The food was delicious and the people were super-friendly but I need to get beyond Bali next time.

Indonesia - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

42. Thailand

I went to Bangkok for a travel blogging conference with not many expectations about Thailand itself – I was really just prepared for a great conference – but Bangkok surprised me very positively! Great food (hmm, a common theme in Asian countries for me!), beautifully friendly people. I’m keen to get back to Thailand to explore more.

Thailand - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Celebrating Loi Krathong festival in Bangkok

43. Iceland

I have long had a fascination with Iceland and when I won a big bunch of frequent flyer miles to get me on a bonus trip to Europe, I thought the time was right to add Iceland on to the trip – hang the cost! And I was not disappointed. In fact, a year later I still have a really fanatical obsession with Iceland! I can’t really put my finger on it, but I know it’s not just me who feels this way about Iceland. I have promised myself I will return there one day.

Iceland - Amanda Kendle of Not A Ballerina

Along the southern coast of Iceland

Which countries are next?

I don’t have any trips to new countries planned right now, but I’d like to make a prediction (as at mid-2016) of a few I really hope to get to within the next decade:

  • Namibia and South Africa – I planned a trip here that I didn’t end up being able to take but am fascinated particularly by Namibia
  • South America (anywhere there really!)
  • Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar – for obvious reasons, right?
  • Mexico – I wish I’d visited when I was in southern California and so close.
  • Romania and Bulgaria – they were just that bit too far when I lived in Slovakia, and visa restrictions at the time made the cost prohibitive.
  • New Zealand because really it’s scandalous that I haven’t been there yet – it’s our neighbour (and yet really quite far from Perth!).

Do you keep count of the countries you’ve visited? Will you admit to it?? Let me know in the comments!

Comments

  1. I haven’t really visited enough countries yet to bother keeping track, but I have been keeping track of the miles that my husband and I have traveled together since moving to Germany. Sure, travel is about more than the numbers but it is definitely fun to think of everything we did to get that number!

    • Keeping track of the miles is a great idea Ava! I have made a point of keeping track of my son’s flights since he was born, too. And it is really fun to look at the numbers, I agree!

  2. I have to admit that I do the very same thing! In fact, one of my guilty pleasures is making those online maps of all the countries you’ve visited, and then watching as certain areas fill in. Also, when I first moved to Germany, I only wanted to visit a new country each time I had vacation (although now that I’ve gotten all the easy neighboring countries out of the way, things have gotten a bit more difficult – and costly!).

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