A Year In Review: 2017. It was another crazy year of travel in 2017. I continued exploring new countries, visiting my 115th country in September when I touched down in Palau in September. There are 193 countries recognized by the UN, so that means I still have 78 more to travel. Besides visiting Palau, I traveled to 11 other new countries in chronological order:
Federated States of Micronesia
I have almost finished Europe with just four countries left: Ireland (how have I not been there yet!), San Marino, Cyprus and Monaco. South America is nearly done, with three countries being left: Venezuela, Suriname, and Guyana. I have just begun to tip my toe in regard to the Pacific Islands, but I also have three other new ones scheduled for January of 2018. And Africa remains my biggest challenge. I have only visited 11 countries on this massive continent with 54 countries.
And of course there were many repeats … 13 in fact. For someone who is attempting to travel to every country in the world, it is a bit of a catch-22 when I revisit a country. But there are so many countries that I love, it is inevitable there are some repeats. I started the year off in Guatemala, and here are the repeats in chronological order.
Of course, this list does not count any countries where I transited through. That doesn’t count for me. I had so many incredible experiences throughout the year.
I started the New Year visiting the Mayan ruins of Guatemala and then relaxed on the beaches of Belize for a couple of days. I revisited Myanmar for my third visit and would love to go back again. This country has so much to offer with ancient temples and friendly people. There was a two week European road trip visiting new countries of Andorra and Monaco with logical repeats to Spain and France. I found Nice to be very enjoyable and finally visited the medieval city of Girona in Spain which I have heard so much about. Algeria is an underrated gem. Safe, orderly, humongous, and untouched by tourism. Algeria has mythical Roman Ruins in the north and isolated deserts in the south. I swung by Niger which was somewhat of a forgettable stay. Burkina Faso was an interesting stay, especially the painted village of Tiebele. The highlight of Tunisia is the remarkable Bardo Museum. Then it was back to Turkey for a repeat visit to Istanbul and new areas of Pamukkale and Cappadocia for a hot air balloon ride. And then it was time for my annual visit to Armenia to visit old friends. I have been here every year since 2003. I was then back for a repeat visit to the historic and beautiful town of Luang Prabang where I attended a conference and moderated a panel of travel bloggers. I then prepared for an epic South American road trip which included so many bucket list stops such as Machu Picchu in Peru, Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, and Easter Island in Chile. There was a quick visit to sleepy Asuncion the capital of Paraguay. I visited Mexico for a second time to the engaging Mexico City, and felt like I could have spent a month there. Then it was off the remote and beautiful islands of Yap (FSM) and Palau. Both had awesome snorkeling. It had been 12 years, but I was back to a second visit to the Kingdom of Bhutan, where I consulted with a local tour company, Raven Tours and Treks. And before I headed back to the US for the holidays, there was a quick pit stop to the sprawling capital of China, Beijing, for my third time over the last 13 years.
And using this cool website of Flight Radar in conjunction with Tripit, I was able to create this flight map of my travels in 2017. My recap in the air –
· 62 flights
· 93,000 miles flown
· 228 hours in the air
· 31 different airlines
· 54 different airports
· 5 continents
And yet, I don’t have any status on any airlines. Coach is not a fun place to be.
I stayed in my home in Chicago for 45 nights, meaning I spent 12% of my time at my official residence. The other times I was on the road in a combination of 65 different hotels, Airbnbs, apartments, friends’ homes, and my apartment in Bangkok. I also slept on 9 different flights or buses. Highlights for hotels were the Lemu Lodge in Easter Island, Mrauk U Princess in Myanmar, JW Marriott Khao Lak in Thailand, and the Palacio de Inca in Cusco (four clients I worked with this year).
I spoke at a couple of industry events. In Laos, I moderated a panel at the Mekong Tourism Forum 2017. I presented on flying a drone at Frequent Flyer University in Chicago. I also presented at the G Adventures corporate office in Boston during a fun luncheon. And I presented in Bangkok at the Travel Meetup that I organize on behalf of 2,500 people. I also organized several events for Travel Massive as the Chapter Leader in Bangkok. I also attended a blogging workshop called Bloghouse in Indianapolis. If you want to learn more about travel blogging, you can join them in Memphis in 2018.
I also have continued my podcast, Counting Countries, where I interview some of the most incredible and interesting travelers in the world. The guests have traveled to every country in the world or are in the progress of completing the goal. I have published 46 episodes so far with many more great guests on the way. It is near difficult to highlight any specific guest since they are all so engaging, but I will mention, Tony Giles, a blind traveler who has been to 110 countries, Nina Sedano and Audrey Walsworth, one of the few women to travel to every country in the world, and too many others to mention.
And I am the proud owner of a drone, DJI Mavic. It is incredible fun but an extra concern dealing with the legalities of following the rules of each country.
This is the drone I carry with me, check it out on Amazon.
I am expecting and hoping for great travel experiences in 2018. My first trip is planned right after New Year with visits to Fiji, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands. Three new countries which will bring my count to 118/193. I am hoping to add at least 15 new countries in 2018. So, I will check back in next year and let you know.
So to everyone, Happy New Year and keep on counting countries. And you can check out my 20 best photos of 2017.
A Year In Review: 2017
Disclaimer: I was hosted by some of the hotels listed in this article. I will receive a fee from Amazon if you purchase.