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I left the Boy Scouts in second grade after an unfortunate Pinewood Derby incident. I spent the summer before high school desperately trying to learn how to play the drums, but quit when the guy giving me lessons said I had no rhythm. I deactivated my Twitter account because brevity is not a strength of mine and I found the 140-character limit too constricting.
This is all to say that I am pretty comfortable giving up on things, which is why it’s sort of remarkable that I recently accomplished a goal I set for myself: I visited 29 countries before I turned 30 years-old. Why was 29 countries my goal, you wonder? Why not just 30 countries for my 30th birthday? Twenty-nine was my golden birthday (I turned 29 on September 29, 2015), and for whatever reason it’s always seemed like a big deal to me. I decided the entire year was going to be a good one, and adding this travel mission felt like a cool thing to do.
“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
– Bill Bryson
On 9/29/2015, my country count was at 18. Could I really visit 11 countries in a year in order to get my number up to 29 before I turned 30 on 9/29/2016? It was a big (read: stupid) undertaking and many people were reasonably skeptical, but I’m tickled to say I hit the big 2-9 before I turned the big 3-0, with three months to spare! If you’re interested, you can check out some pictures from each stop along the way and I’ll be adding short written blurbs as well.
Wendell Berry said, “Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.” I agree. Many thanks to those who joined me for some of the adventures, and I am forever indebted to the amazing souls I met along the way.
Here’s to 30. And 31. And 32 …
1. Japan 2. Germany 3. Luxembourg 4. Belgium 5. Netherlands 6. Mexico 7. South Korea 8. China 9. Philippines 10. Australia 11. Taiwan 12. Brunei 13. Singapore 14. Indonesia 15. Malaysia 16. Canada 17. Cambodia 18. Thailand 19. Laos 20. Vietnam 21. Greece 22. Italy 23. San Marino 24. Malta 25. Iceland 26. Denmark 27. Finland 28. Sweden 29. Norway