Fellow family travel blogger Erin asked the question on her Facebook page,
“How many countries have you been to?”Erin Bender (Holmes)
So I counted, something I haven’t done for years. It’s not a competition, I’m not in any rush to tick off more countries. We’re busy re-visiting places we’ve been many times before. They are our favourites, so why not? But it’s interesting to keep a list. This is mine, it’s a work in progress.
How Many Countries Have You Been To?
I would urge new travellers not to tick off every country in the world, it’s no way to enjoy travel. Remember, I’m 52 years old and I’ve spent months in many of these places because I love them. Other countries I know I’ll never visit because I simply have no interest.
Travel slow and travel deep, the rewards are far richer.
How I’m Counting Countries
I’m not counting airport stop overs, I usually do, I think they count so long as you have a few hours off the plane.
I am counting the different countries that make up the UK, because, well, because they’re separate countries. As a Welsh person I get fed up of being lumped in with all the others. Wales is a country, and proud!
I’ve been through the archives looking for photos, some of these are over 40 years old. Apologies for photo quality, not only is my camera broken, but a lot of these pictures were scanned from old negatives after we had all of our best photos stolen when we emigrated, including our wedding photos and the boys’ baby pictures.
But what’s done is done.
Here’s my answer.
That was an early trip to London, back in the days when you could feed the pigeons in Trafalgar Square.
Mum used to take us up to London for the day on the train to see the sights and catch a musical in the West End.
I’ve been all over England, I went to university in Birmingham, my best friend lives in Manchester and we took many trips to the south coast beaches.
We lived in London for 8 years. My children were born there and I adore it. To me London is home, just as much as Wales is. There is so much to do in London, some of it free. I miss it terribly.
The main problem with London is the cost of living or staying there, that was what drove our move to Australia, housing is a lot cheaper in Queensland.
Update: We’ve spent a lot of the last 8 years living in London with kids for months at a time. We love it and know this city really well. There are multiple London posts on this blog.
Born and bred. Ogi Ogi Ogi!
I’m very proud to be Welsh and I’m looking forward to my first Welsh Christmas in 6 or 7 years this year.
I entered the world in Newport, South Wales and lived in Cardiff for 10 years after university. I had the best time there as a young adult, the pub, club and music scene in my nation’s capital is superb.
Look out for lots of posts about Wales on the blog, we spent Christmas 2013 there and had a ball. One of my favourite free attractions in Wales is Big Pit mining museum, we’ll be going again soon.
My first trip to Scotland was on a university field trip. We spent a week near Aviemore climbing mountains to survey what was growing on top of them. I don’t know why, I wasn’t even studying botany. It wasn’t much fun. I’d much rather have been in the pub . Now I’d love to go climb those mountains again, better yet, ski them.
Visiting Edinburgh years later was far more exciting. I’ve been a few times to visit friends and for the Edinburgh Festival. I loved the festival, Edinburgh really comes alive. It’s a great city, I hope to be there for Hogmanay one year.
In 2018 we finally went back and explored the Highlands and more. Find our Scotland content here.
I once took the car ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare and spent a long weekend driving around the bottom part of Ireland staying at various cute and cozy Bed and Breakfasts. It’s a great country and I’d love to see more of it.
I didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone, it was way too scary!
I spent a summer in Virginia and the surrounding states with my university boyfriend as an 18 year old.
Years later, I visited the East Coast with my now husband, the Chef, and we had ourselves a road trip, including, Vegas, Lake Tahoe, The Grand Canyon, Anaheim Disney, San Diego and San Francisco.
In early 2014 we took a one month east coast road trip from New York, to Amish Pennsylvania, to Canada to Florida and New Orleans.
I’ve taken the boys to Orlando Florida Disney three times. We know a bit about beating the queues.
All of our trips to the USA have been good, no complaints! Mardi Gras in New Orleans was a big highlight.
New York City in winter was amazing, we found plenty of things to keep us busy and our budget reasonable.
Most normal people book flights to New York. It’s quick and pretty cheap these days. But we’re not normal, we never have been. We took a cruise, across the Atlantic, in January. That was a totally new experience, we loved it!
Our most recent new country, we visited Canada for just 2 nights as an add-on to our USA road trip. We instantly fell in love! We visited Niagara Falls and drove along the border for a while enjoying the snow, the scenery and the wildlife. We will most certainly be back in Canada to see more one day soon.
I spent my 3oth birthday in Cuba. I cycled from Havana to Trinidad with my good friend Ange and a cycling group over the course of about a week. It was a fundraiser for The National Deaf Children’ Society .
Ange celebrated her 50th birthday there and has just been to Everest Base Camp at a mature 65 years old. Never let your age stop you doing anything! Now I’m almost 50 myself I realise that half a century isn’t old at all.
We had a ball in Cuba, the country was just opening up to tourism back then, I expect things have changed a lot. The music and general vibe of Havana was incredible, it’s a very special place. Unfortunately, the food was terrible, but you can’t have everything! The best mojitos I’ve ever tasted made up for it.
We went for the day when we were doing our West Coast USA road trip. Tijuana wasn’t very inspiring but we had a nice lunch. We hope to see more of Mexico next year and get a handle on Mexican food. It’s not very common in the UK or Australia, I love discovering new cuisines.
A month in Antigua Guatemala was too long for us, but when we got up to Lake Atitlan we fell in love. What a fantastic place!
If we get the chance we will go back and stay much longer.
Visiting Tikal was an incredible highlight of our world travels.
Only a week here unfortunately, but all spent in San Salvador, so we got to know that city at least.
We had a great time and our first Central American country pushed me out of my comfort zone for once.
Read more on El Salvador here.
Chef and I took a small group adventure holiday to Peru. We were cash rich and time poor, so one of these group holidays was the best way to cram most of Peru into a two week holiday. We walked the Inca trail, camped under the stars and had a wonderful time.
Chef proposed to me at Macchu Picchu.
We hope to be back in Peru early next year, maybe stay a few months.
I’ve been so many times. When I was a kid Mum and Dad used to take us to France in a caravan. Those were the best holidays. I’ll remember my first taste of French fish soup forever, I’ve never found another soup so good.
My favourite part of France is Brittany, rugged coastlines do it for me more than long sandy beaches and the food is superb. I cycled round Brittany once, popped the bike and panniers on the ferry and just randomly explored. We didn’t get very far but it was great fun.
Brittany and Wales share Celtic roots, I love the way the Breton place names are very similar to Welsh.
We also visit southern France for the day whenever we are in the north of Spain, this photo is from 2014.
This one is a cheat, we only spent a day on Madeira, a cruise ship stop off. But for the purposes of this list it counts.
To be honest, we spent most of the day sitting in a cafe using their internet, we knew we couldn’t do the island justice in just one day. We’ll be back.
I’ve been to Bruges and Brussels a few times. We really enjoyed the Christmas markets in Bruges when D was a baby and Boo was a bump.
Belgian food is fantastic!
Belgium was also on our route as we drove from Romania to London and back. We took that trip every year for several years.
Another school trip, I studied German in school, I was very bad at it. I really don’t remember much of Germany at all, other than a great theme park that they took us to and the boat up the Rhine.
Slovenia was a lovely surprise as part of out European road trip in 2017. It’s a beautiful, unspoilt, yet modern country with a lot to offer travellers, family or otherwise. You can read more about Slovenia here.
You guessed it, a school trip. I just remember snow, cuckoo clocks, chocolate, a big lake and having a big crush on a boy. In 2017 we skipped Switzerland on our road trip, we could have gone but we looked at the prices and decided against it.
I had a boyfriend who’s dad owned a villa in Spain, up north, in Catalonia, we went a few times. Catalonia is a lovely part of Spain.
Salvadore Dali’s Theatre Museum, in Figueres is incredible, you must go if you get the chance. My friend Heidi of Wagoner’s Abroad has been living in Spain for a while now, she’s got plenty of tips for visiting Spain.
Spanish food and wine is delicious , too.
Update: After our 2nd Atlantic cruise of 2014 we spent 2 weeks in Spain, Catalonia again, but surprisingly, based in package holiday hot-spot Lloret de Mar. It’s much nicer than you may think.
I went to Italy, a town called Aprica, with a school skiing trip when I was around 13 years old.
That’s one of the perks of growing up in Europe, great field trips!
I discovered pasta on that trip, it was a revelation that started me cooking and started my love affair with food.
This trip was also notable for one particular lift attendant who liked to touch young girls. He seemed to pick on me in particular because I was quiet and often alone, being the unpopular kid in the group and one of the youngest. Not so nice, but as a 13 year old I just shrugged it off.
Update: In 2014 the boys and I spent a beautiful week in Umbria with Our Whole Vilage, a wonderful opportunity to get to know this region and in 2017 we drove accross Europe, visiting Venice, Monza and Mont Blanc.
I have took quite a few cheap package holidays to the Greek Islands back in the days when you could pick up a late deal for under $200. Those days are gone. In 2017 we took the boys on an educational Greek road trip, focussing on the mainland and key historic sites. It’s a fabulous country and the food and retsina make visit even more worthwhile.
Another skiing trip with the school. I don’t remember anything of Bulgaria other than wizing down the ski slopes. Great fun!
The boys and I ( no Chef) spent a couple of weeks in Istanbul in February 2015 and LOVED it. A wonderful city, great food and wonderful people.
LOVE Romania . We’re
thinking of buying bought a house there. Read here about Bucharest and here about the beautiful village we’d like to call home.
We walked over the border from the north of Romania, had a wander about and a cold drink and wandered back. Just because we could. We got a stamp in our passports so I’m counting this one!
We’ve done the Trans Siberian Express. Actually it was the Trans Mongolian, (link opens in new tab) there is a lot of confusion over the name.
I won’t say too much, click on the links to read more about it. It was one of our most wonderful travel experiences so far.
We started our journey in Moscow, at a homestay with a lovely lady who fed us enormous Russian breakfasts. What an experience, to stay in a Russian home!
I’d like to see more of Russia, St Petersberg is meant to be amazing and I think the children would enjoy doing the Trans Mongolian with us again.
The Trans Mongolian terminated in Beijing.
Food in Beijing is amazing, we ate so much, mountains of food.
We had about a week there before we caught a train south, stopping to see The Terracotta Warriors and the pandas of Chengdu on our way to Vietnam.
We had a great time, but there is so much more we could have seen. Another country that we need to visit again!
China is the only country that I’ve ever visited where language was a problem, we often needed our Mandarin phrase book just to order food and drink.
We have now also been to Tibet, and that was breathtaking.
Amazing food and so much to see and do. We spent a month working our way down from Hanoi to Saigon.
Vietnam is one of my favourite countries, it’s Chef’s top favourite. We lived in Vietnam for 6 months recently to put our Vietnam Travel Blog together. Vietnam has some of the best food in Southeast Asia, along with Thailand.
We only spent a week in Cambodia in 2000, we travelled overland from Vietnam and then on to Bangkok. We took a long boat trip up to Tongle Sap and spent days touring Angkor Wat.
In 2015 we spent a whole month there with the kids, visiting Siem Reap, Battambang (recommended!) and Kampot.
Thailand has got to be the easiest country in South East Asia to travel around and it’s great to do with kids.
Thai cuisine is amazing, read our complete guide to Thai food here. I always feel healthy in Thailand, so many vegetables and few carbs.
I’ve spent months of my life here.
We flew from Thailand to Kathmandu on a Bangladeshy airline so we had the opportunity of a stop over in Dakka.
We weren’t going to miss an oportunity like that!
We didn’t see much, just a small part of the city, but it was a really interesting experience. So much traffic!
Many people say you can only add a country to your “how many countries have you been to?” list if you spend the night. We did, it counts!
We love Laos and we’ve been twice. There are plenty of posts in our Lao section about our 6 weeks there in July 2013. Fabulous people, incredible country, good food, low prices.
India is probably my favourite country, but it’s a challenging destination to travel around, particularly with kids.
Days on trains and crowded buses would be too hard on my small children, we’ll have to find a less taxing way to do it with them.
I have a post about Highlights on Northern India, the images are stunning, go take a peek.
We’ve explored India extensively, I think I’ve spent 5 months in total there, we’d love to go back for more.
Indian food is superb, we prefer the lighter dishes of the south, but the richer, meatier north Indian food is great too.
We LOVE Nepal. Kathmandu is so old and the Himalayas are so magnificent. Heck, I even like subsisting on dahl baht and mo-mos!
We love trekking. Chef and I did the Annapurna circuit in 2001, 3 weeks up in the mountains, hardly another tourist about, amazing scenery, remote villages and lots and lots of snow.
In 2017 we took the kids trekking in the Everest Region, an incredible and challenging few weeks. The next year we made it to Everest Base Camp. Read more on Nepal here.
Sri Lanka is pretty close to paradise for me. I love the people, the culture, the very civilised nature of the place.
If I could eat Sri Lankan breakfasts all day I’d be very happy indeed.
I’ve been 3 times, totalling about 2.5 months, we got married in Sri Lanka, just ourtside Galle in 2003.
See Our Complete Guide To Travel in Sri Lanka here
After all the stress of getting married in Sri Lanka we thought we deserved a honeymoon and Maldives was on our doorstep.
We were mad keen scuba divers back then, pre kids, so we spent a week diving 2 or 3 times a day.
Lovely diving, beautiful islands, great accommodation, but overall, not my style of travel. No culture, terrible food, just a very sterile hotel experience. Wonderful if you love beaches or diving. So I’m not saying I wouldn’t love to go again!
Now the kids are older we all scuba dive together and this site has its own scuba diving and aquatic section.
Andorra is a little gem of a budget ski destination. It’s sandwiched between Spain and France in the Pyrenees. I’ve been twice, to a ski town called Soldeu. It’s cheap because it’s a tax haven, you pay duty free prices in Andorra, great for the apres ski beers.
I’ve only been to Bali, I’m looking forward to exploring the more remote parts of Indonesia, particularly Komodo island, I love wildlife!
Lots of people knock Bali, sometimes justifiably so, Kuta has absolutely nothing going for it. But we do think that visiting Bali with kids is a great idea, it’s easy, budget friendly and accessible from Australia, our usual base.
If you’re looking for a beach holiday, you’re probably better off going somewhere else, like Sri Lanka, maybe.
If, like me, you enjoy culture, history and food, head to Ubud. We love Ubud, there is plenty to do there, it’s great for kids and it’s cheap.
People complain about Balinese food, too, but I enjoy it. OK, it’s not as good as Thai, what is? We found a few dishes we liked.
The kids were very happy with the satay and I couldn’t get enough gado gado, a semi cooked vegetable salad with peanut sauce. Food in Bali slightly resembles Malaysian food, but Chef and I think it’s a lot better.
We had an excellent luxury stay on one of Indonesia’s islands recently at Telunas resort.
I have mixed feeling about Malaysia.
I think the root of my problem with Malaysia is that it’s too Western. If I’m in Asia I’m looking for a different experience. Malaysia doesn’t feel much different to the UK to me.
We had a wonderful time in Kuala Lumpur, partly because it was so different to our home in Far North Queensland. It was great to experience shopping malls, glitz and public transport after living in the back of beyond for so long, but after that the novelty wore off.
I don’t dig the food (other than the amazing South Indian cuisine that you can find in Malaysia) and food is really important to me. Chef too, he’s not a fan.
Malacca was pretty, Penang had some interesting temples, Legoland was great fun for all the family and the New Legoland Water park was amazing for the kids, but overall, just not for me. You can find all our Malaysia posts here.
When we finaly got to Malaysian Borneo that all changed, I totally fell in love with Sarawak and vegan Malaysian food made me enjoy that too.
A few brief visits where we were hugely impressed by how absolutely lovely the local people are. High prices drove us out quickly in our budget travel days but in 2017 and 2018 we returned to taste the Singapore high life and now have a full Singapore guide for you.
My husband is Australian so we went back and forth quite a few times before emigratingtemporarily to Port Douglas in 2007.
My first trip was as a backpacker at the end of our 12 month Round the World trip. We saw loads of the country, travelling around on buses and trains, mostly sleeping in a little two man tent. Great times!
We lived in Port Douglas for almost 7 years, regularly visiting the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest and many other local attractions. We left to travel full time in 2013, returning at the start of 2020.
A recent development, we bought a farm in Australia.
Enter the Aussie! Egypt is where I met Chef.
I’d always dreamed of Egypt, I find it fascinting, but I had no idea I’d be coming home with such a life changing souvenir.
Recently we went back to Egypt with the kids and spent an incredible month there, read all about that in our Egypt section, it’s one of our favourite places.
South Africa is another country with troubles. My brother, the little guy in the photo up top with a pidgeon on his head, has lived there for the last ten years. We’ve visited a few times and had an amazing time visiting the game parks. It’s a beautiful country.
The last package holiday Chef and I took was to Morocco, Agadir, on the coast. We turned up to the rep’s meeting on the first evening, this is where the rep tries to sell you day trips.
We totally confused him by asking the way to the bus station so that we could take the bus to Marrakesh and stay there for a few nights. Package tourists just aren’t supposed to do that!
It was great fun, another country that I’d love to visit again, for longer.
United Arab Emirates
We ADORED Dubai. We had so much fun on our camel safari in the desert, we’d love to go back. Dubai is in the Middle East, of course, but it’s in Asia and I think that makes me like it.
3 nights in Prague, a beautiful city, one night in Brno, a rest stop only as we drove across Europe from London to Romania.
We drove through and got stopped for not having a vignette. The police let us off with a small bribe. That’s all I can tell you about Slovakia.
Gyor, almost on the Austrian border, was our first taste of Hungary. Highlights inlide Lake Bataln, Budapest and Hortobagy National Park, which we visited in subsequent years.
We drove across the country and glimpsed the Danube, that is all. Traffic around Vienna was too bad to venture further into the city.
A new one for 2018 and a fascinating tour of Belgrade. Photos, video and posts on this coming soon.
The latest new country, Bhutan, the country at the very top of my bucket list. Everyone knows how expensive Bhutan is to visit, but was Bhutan worth it? I’m very glad to have been and we loved our trip, but I think overall I prefer Nepal, maybe even Tibet.
How Many Countries Have I Been To Total?
Fewer than I thought. I make it just 52 countries. These days we’re revisiting countries we’ve been to many times before for the sake of the kids. It’s one of the joys of being a parent, showing these small people what’s wonderful about the world.
How many countries have you been to?
Want to know how many countries some of my best travel blog buddies have been to, this year, or ever?
We got together to make this a group post.
How many countries have you been to:
Erin of Travel with Bender?
Gabi of The Nomadic Family?
Amy and Andrew of Our Big Fat Travel Adventure?
Jamie at Great Big Scary World?
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Sunday 30th of June 2019
Thank you, alyson, I stumbled across your blog whilst planning a trip to Vietnam and found it really useful! If yiu ever want to visit Oman, you'd be very welcome to stay with us!
Sunday 30th of June 2019
I would LOVE to go to Oman ! Thanks
Not sovereign? Not a country
Wednesday 28th of February 2018
Wales-England-Scotland-Nothern Ireland is one country. They are separate regions but they are not sovereign. Just because you call them a country, doesn't make them a country. By that standard then US states would be countries or Andalucia or Åland Island. Country is sovereign, Wales is not. However, you could count them as countries & territories.
Alyson Long for World Travel Family
Thursday 1st of March 2018
Go away and Google " Is Wales a country". You'll find you are wrong.
Galina @ trilingualchildten
Sunday 12th of February 2017
Wow! what a wonderful travel experience you had through out your life! I read you would like to visit St-Petersburg with kids. It was my home city and I actually visited it with kids 2 years ago. We live in Italy now. They had so much fun! in case you'd like to go there , here I posted many fun attractions you can visit with kids Good luck!
Miles of Happiness
Saturday 20th of December 2014
Wow that's a lot. But it's hard to count, as you said. What's "seeing" a country?
Saturday 20th of December 2014
Exactly! Some say you have to stay overnight, but that rules out cruise ship destinations, a quick way to increase your count and know nothing of a country. If you take that definition I could add a few more where I've spent the night in airports. It's a silly sport, but I'm keeping this list for reference.
Saturday 22nd of November 2014
We are the Bossa Travelers, starting our 3rd month of our year long trip. Glad to read about so many other families traveling around.