It was a busy and rewarding year!! I covered a lot of ground, some of it old, but plenty of new. In 2016, I traveled to eleven new countries; including: Cuba, Belgium, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Iran, Bulgaria, Iraq, Eritrea, Honduras, and Guatemala. This brought my country count to 103. A great feeling to finally have crossed the century mark, but still a very daunting task ahead of me. Still 90 new countries to visit. I also revisited nine countries; including: Thailand, Hong Kong, Holland, Armenia, UAE, South Korea, Indonesia, Philippines, and Malaysia.
I had some incredible experiences this year. Right after the New Year I headed down for a three city trip to Cuba. I wanted to beat the rush before US tourism is 100% open to this time capsule-like country. I had a great train trip across Western Europe in April. I made my annual visit to Armenia to catch up with friends and recognize the Armenian Genocide. I spent an amazing week plus visiting Iran, a country that breaks so many pre-conceived notions. Bulgaria was a country that punched way over its weight class. I also visited the Kurdistan region of Iraq, another great place to visit, and also surreal. I visited Eritrea, a very isolated country and one of the least visited countries in the world. Eritrea was another surprisingly awesome country highlighted by a steam engine train ride through the mountains. I got to visit two of my favorite festivals in Thailand. The bizarre Sak Yant tattoo festival and the beautiful Li Peng/Loi Kratong Festival in Chiang Mai. I also revisited the moving Borobudur Temple in Indonesia for both sunset and sunrise. I also got to continue my relationship with the Mercy Center as a volunteer teacher in Bangkok for the first three months of the year.
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There were also some professional accomplishments in 2016. I started my podcast Counting Countries, where I interview people who have traveled to every country in the world, all 193!
I published an article in Huffington Post on my visit to Iran. The Brookings Institute purchased a photo of mine to use as the cover of a soon to be published book, The Eagle and the Trident. I was interviewed in Skyscanner. I was the keynote speaker at the PATA Adventure Travel and Responsible Tourism Conference. And I was also awarded the MOST CAPTIVATING DIGITAL STORY at the 2016 Digital Innovation Asia Awards.
Great portable battery charger.
For those who like statistics …
- 44: I stayed in 44 different hotels
- 18: I traveled on 18 different airlines
- 46: I flew 46 different segments
- 3: I crossed 3 different international borders via train
- 1: I crossed 1 international border via bus
- 1: I crossed 1 international border via rental car
Flexible converter when traveling.
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Looks like you had a good year. Kurdish Iraq is top of our list! Look forward to hearing about your travels in 2017. Cheers, Mark
A great busy year … and Kurdistan was great! Safe travels to you for next year!
Congrats with this successful year! Looking forward to your 2017!
Thanks!!! Safe travel to you in 2017!
Exciting year! Spanky and I always enjoy your podcasts and often listen to them when sitting down to do our social media. You’re a great interviewer Ric, you should be in Radio.
All the best for 2017.
Thanks Frank, safe travels to you in 2017!!!
Your stories and photos are amazing.I enjoyed sharing in your experiences.
I’m looking forward to reading more.
Ela, Thank you so much!!
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