Five years ago, at the age of 24 and with just two counties under my belt, I made a pact with one of my friends – we’d travel to 30 countries before we turned 30 years old. I was committed to making sure I accomplished the goal and was so thrilled about the many lessons and adventures that would result from such a journey.
My latest trip to Argentina in November 2018 became the 30th country I’ve had the pleasure of exploring with 8 months to spare before my 30th birthday I finally made it! In addition, this was my first time in South America and the first time that I can say I have been to 6 of the 7 continents in the world.
In honor of this milestone, I’m sharing my list of “bests” that I have been to thus far. Here goes!
- Best food: Rome, Italy
Italy is carb heaven! I usually try my best to stay away from carbs when I’m at home, but Rome is definitely my splurge destination. The various pasta dishes are irresistible and there are so many restaurants and cafes everywhere! My favorite dishes there are pesto pasta or carbonara. And, let’s not forget dessert! The gelato here is the best I’ve had and something you can also find on every corner. Be prepared to eat your way through Rome!
- Best beaches: Honolulu, Hawaii
One of my favorite things to do in Honolulu is rent a car and drive around the entire perimeter of the island. You find so many random beaches and spots that offer some of the most breath taking and picturesque ocean views. I love that you can stop by 7 different beaches and each looks totally different with it’s own personality, vibe, views, etc. It feels like going to a few different countries all in one place.
- Best hospitality: San Blas, Panama
I wrote a separate blog on this entire experience (link here) but in summary, we met a local tribe of people known as Kunas People. They were so simple, happy, and nice. They took us around on a boat from island to island, offered us fresh food and drinks, and made it their sole mission to ensure we had a great time. And they really didn’t expect anything in return – they were just really nice people. This is another place with unbelievable beaches as well!
- Best big city: Hong Kong, China
Phew, talk about an overwhelmingly beautiful industrial utopia. Even descending into Hong Kong during my flight, I looked out of the window and was just floored. The mix of endless sky scrapers, bodies of water and mountains makes it one of the most scenic big cities I have ever seen. When you are landing, be sure to get a window seat and take in the view or once in the city check out Sky Terrace 428 at The Peak.
- Best prices: Phuket, Thailand
Ah Thailand, home of the $9 dollar 3 course meals, reasonably priced resort style hotels, $5 massages, and shopping prices you can negotiate down to great deals! This is the place to go on a budget. While the plane fare may be high depending on where you are coming from – once I got there I didn’t spend much. Great value for an unforgettable experience!
- Best lituation: Cancun, Mexico
Mexico holds the title of my favorite country right now – I’ve been at least 10 times. It’s always a celebration from landing to take-off! On a typical day, I wake up, grab my unicorn floatie and head to my favorite infinity pool at Hyatt Ziva to enjoy mimosas and trap music while admiring the gorgeous turquoise beach views. Next, I head to a boat turn up that starts with an adventurous snorkeling excursion and ends with unlimited drinks and partying! Finally, after relaxing in my room or the spa for a moment, I end the night with a club crawl through the popular club zone. So fun! I know this sounds like a tiring day, but Mexico is my favorite country for it’s balance of beach relaxation, partying, and exploration. You can always find a healthy balance between partying and relaxing. This is also the home of Tequila – my favorite drink of choice! Total win!
- Best relaxation: Adelboden, Switzerland
Adelboden is a small country ski town where there aren’t any large building, lights, taxis, etc. Instead you find miles and miles of farm land, cows, greenery, and a few resorts. I love infinity pools and the one at The Cambrian overlooking the Swiss Alps is just amazing! During my trip there, I was in the pool and spa for majority of the time just taking in the view and hydrotherapy services – the most relaxing thing ever. The cell signal is horrible, so you really get a chance to unplug because you can’t use your phone much, unless you opt for Wi-Fi.
- Best solo exploring: Bruge, Belgium
I love a place that I can walk around and explore with no map while still feeling safe, secure, and adventurous – especially as a solo traveler. Bruge was perfect for this! I took a quick train over from Brussels for a day and was in awe at the colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, city center activities, and picturesque boat tours (a must do!).
- Best nature scene: Limerick, Ireland
During my trip to Ireland, I started in Shannon, rented a car and drove the entire coast stopping at cafes, castles, and shops along the way. The entire ride, I was in awe at how green everything was. It had a countryside, simple feel. The best nature scene though, came when we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher. This was one of my first international trips (country #3) and I had never seen anything like these majestic cliffs in my entire life.
- Best hidden surprise: Budapest, Hungary
I stopped in Budapest for 2 days during a quick summer adventure in Europe, thinking it’d just be a country I could add to my list. Honestly, for some reason I was a little scared to go there solo just based on what I remember hearing about the country as a kid. Once I arrived, I did not want to leave! It’s such a scenic place, with the most youthful, romantic, and adventurous vibe. The food, the views, the architecture, the people, the river and more all came as a pleasant surprise. Granted, I did very little research on what I’d do there before I arrived and had low expectations – I quickly realized I needed more than two days to take in the cities beauty and culture. That said – I’ll be back!
- Best shopping trip: Paris, France
Every year, I make my way to Paris for an annual shopping trip during their major sale season. You can find many items for half off and they’re usually super unique statement pieces you wont find anywhere else. Shopping there is the best! From endless shops on Champs Elysees, to taking in endless options at Galleries Lafayette, to the random boutiques you can find interwoven throughout the city – my annual shopping trip is always a hit!
- Best views: Santorini, Greece
I’m a sucker for good views and Santorini takes the cake. The deep blue Aegean sea, combined with the unique white architecture and numerous blue water infinity pools scattered throughout Santorini make this one of the best spots for laying out and just taking in views that leave even the most unimpressible people awestruck.
- Best wildlife adventures: Sydney, Australia
Koalas, kangaroos, and the great barrier reef! Need I say more? The aquarium in Sydney is also one of my favorites!
- Best dance: Montego Bay, Jamaica
I love cultural dances. I went to a local dance club in Jamaica one night and they had groups doing impromptu dances in the middle of the floor. There is something so fascinating about the way the women whine with so much control, and how the men dance with so much swag and power – it was definitely a sight to see!
- Best culture: Lagos, Nigeria
This is my home so I may be a little biased lol, but in my opinion Nigeria rocks! I am so obsessed with my people and my culture. We are brave, ambitious, proud, and hilarious. The food, dances, languages, attire, traditions, etc. are just so fascinating. I always encourage people to take a moment to explore Nigerian culture.
Whether you’re a solo traveler, doing a group trip, or baecation these countries are great places to visit and explore! If you love to travel, create a list of your own and share!