You’ve probably heard some of those before – “30 before 30”, “60 before 60”, etc. But for me, it is 60 before 30. What is it? Before turning 30 years old, I managed to independently visit 60 countries. Without rich relatives, breaking a bank, or taking a gap year. Want to know how I did it and if it was worth it? Keep reading!
Yesterday, I turned 30 years old. It feels very strange, as in my head I’m still twenty-something free spirit. Life is life, they say.
Before turning 30 years old, I managed to visit 60 countries and do many amazing things. Even though I am not entirely happy that I’m that old already, I am truly grateful for what I could see and experience in this life of mine.
Watch the video of my experiences in different places around the world:Find more of my videos on my Youtube channel.
60 COUNTRIES BEFORE TURNING 30
Have I really tried to get to 60 countries before I turn 30? Not really.
Numbers were never my goal. I’ve always loved travelling and exploring, so visiting new places was the main thing I was interested in. It didn’t really matter if it was the country that I’ve previously been to or not – after all borders are only artificial lines made up by people!
Quickly, travel became the way of life for me, and my main interest. After some time, when people found out how much I travel, I got constantly asked how many countries I’ve been to. When I met Alex, this kind of became a game (that I’m still winning ;-)).
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What about the time and money
I haven’t quit my job nor did I take a gap year to travel. All my abroad trips were taken either during my university times in Poland or after when I already had a full-time, 9-5, job. It required throughout the planning and many sacrifices, but it made me happy. You can read more here on how do I manage to travel more with a 9-5 job.
I funded all my trips myself. During times when I was a broke student, I mainly hitch-hiked, wild-camped, stayed with Couchsurfing, and ate the cheapest supermarket food in order to be able to see the world. After I got a job, I could at least afford some of the flight tickets to further destinations. It wasn’t after a year of working full time until I went for the first trip to Asia to visit the Indian Himalayas.
How did it all start
I started travelling more abroad when I was 19 years old, in my first year of university. Before that, I was only on one school trip in Hungary and across the border to Slovakia, which is 30 km from my hometown in Poland.
My first trip out of Europe was as a gift from my dad for my 18th birthday. When I was a kid, for the family trips we mainly visited the Polish mountains.
The reality in Poland was different then and the money was an issue. My parents were never able to travel as much as we can do now. My generation is the first one, that is able to travel more and more – travel is a luxury that my parents and grandparents couldn’t even dream of. The year 1989 when I was born, was a year when all of that started to change. And I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity that this life has given me.
At the age of twenty, I started to discover more of Europe, and at the age of twenty-five, I planned my long waited for a trip to Indian Himalayas, which started the whole set of trips to other continents.
Something to be aware of
Whereas I am more than happy, that I was able to see so much of this beautiful world, I am also aware of two things.
I do not come from a rich family. I funded all the trips myself (with money or work) and I worked hard to get where I am now. Yet, I still recognize how privileged I am.
My European passport allows me to travel to many countries without a visa. Very often, I don’t even get asked anything at the borders, not even talking about filling the paper forms or sending countless applications, just to enter the country.
I was able to go to university and get an education, which then allowed me to get a good job.
I have parents that support me, worry about me, and encourage me, even though they don’t always agree with everything I do.
I’m healthy and I don’t have any dependents. Even though I graduated with small student debt, I never had to worry about not having a place to stay or food to eat. I also didn’t have to provide for my family.
I live in a country that has a good social and economic situation, and free speech. There is no war or conflict.
I am young and white, which, unfortunately, still seems to be favoured in some places (white privilege). Things can get much worse for travellers of colour.
Not everyone is in the same situation, and I recognize that.
The second issue is the environmental impact that the excessive amount of travelling has.
While, on many of my trips I hitch-hiked (which is probably one of the most environmentally friendly ways of transport apart from walking and cycling), or used public transport, I still needed to take flights to get to some far locations.
That being said, I think that if not for travelling, I wouldn’t be so aware of the issues that humanity creates for the world and wouldn’t be so involved in fighting them. I also know that I wouldn’t be who I am now, if not for all the people I met and places I’ve seen.
It was thanks to traveling, that I started to become a more responsible traveller and focused on the environment in my life and travels.
I keep hearing from people, friends, or strangers “you’re so lucky to travel so much”
Yes, I’m lucky. And I am privileged, as I said above. But it is not only that. Achieving dreams doesn’t usually come without hard work and sacrifice.
Traveling was my goal ever since I remember. That’s why I focused on it, set my priorities, and started working towards it. There were many micro-steps along the way. I took extra classes to learn good English, I focused on my education, volunteering in the student organization, and networking to secure a job. I was saving all the money I had in order to travel. This meant no fancy clothes, not eating out, and traveling on a budget to make a dollar stretch.
Last but not least – travelling independently is work in itself. Especially to wild, off the beaten path places, where I like to go to. Each trip requires hours and hours of preparation. I have to research every destination myself, dig through the tourists’ traps, plan the itinerary, find the accommodation, find out how to get in-between places with public transport, choose places that are worth seeing, activities to do, and make strict desitions due to limited time or money.
Add to this, learning at least the basics of the local language of the country that I’m traveling to, reading up on the history, politics, and culture to understand the people, preparations of the medical requirements, vaccinations, and visas, and you’ll get almost another full-time job of being a travel planner. It’s not easy and time-consuming, but it’s worth it.
A word for you
This post is not for me to brag that I am so cool that I visited 60 countries. It is far from that. In fact, nowadays traveling is not a big achievement anymore, and there are many people who travel more and for longer than me.
However, if you dream about travelling and you are not sure if you can do it, I want to show you that you can.
Here are a few things, that I want you to take out of this post:
- If I can visit the world, so can you, especially when you can read it right now. It means you have access to the internet, a computer, or/and smartphone, and with some lifestyle changes, you probably can make it happen. I am living proof that it is possible to travel on a tiny student budget, and also align a full-time office job with traveling.
- Whereas travel is great and brings many benefits, it’s important to acknowledge that not everyone is in the position to travel. It might not be their priority right now or not their choice. And that’s fine, too. We are all different people and what works for me or you, might not work for someone else. Respect that.
- In my opinion, counting countries or chasing numbers shouldn’t be your only motivation to travel. It’s a fun game if you like it, and there is nothing wrong with it, but be careful not to be caught up in the numbers game. Travel allows for so much. Experiencing different cultures, meeting new people, exploring unique places. Travel opens your mind, enriches the soul, and gives you a fresh perspective. Make good use of it.
- Chase your dreams! You (and they) are worth it!
- When you travel (and when you don’t) think about the environment. Let’s protect the world we all love so much, so we can still enjoy its beauty. Please, be a responsible traveller.
Curious where I’ve been? Here is the list, in no particular order. I counted only the countries that I went through the border control, which means no layovers. I also often come back to the same countries, as I believe it’s hard to really get to know the place well with just one visit.
Poland is the country where I come from and where I lived for most of my life. Worth visiting for amazing Krakow city (where I lived for 5 years), with tons of things to do in beautiful Zakopane and Tatra mountains and experiencing traditional horse sleigh ride.
#2 United Kingdom
The United Kingdom and especially Scotland is my second home, where I spent 4,5 years. There are many unique places in Scotland worth travelling to like the charming islands Isle of Mull, Iona, and Staffa. When you decide to go, make sure to check what to pack for Scotland, and what you need to know before visiting.
Norway is the country that I currently call home for almost 2 years already. From unique adventures on Svalbard to other Norway winter travel activities like dog-sledding, or exploring the best things to do in Oslo in winter to summer trips to Senja island and hiking to iconic Segla, Kjeragbolten or Trollpikken. When traveling to Norway I also recommend getting some of the best Norwegian gifts from here!
Portugal was one of the last countries, that I visited in Europe, but the one that I fell in love with. The magical Alfama district in Lisbon, cute Porto Covo fishing village, and the Algarve coast filled our Portugal road trip itinerary.
I only managed to visit the capital of Finland and check the best things to do in Helsinki in winter. There are many interesting day trips from Helsinki, as well as countless opportunities to explore Finnish nature, so I know I will be back.
It’s not a surprise, that Iceland, a country of fire and ice, stole my heart. We filled our 7 days in Iceland with Iceland’s top tourist attractions, as well as Iceland off the beaten path. We swam in the best hot springs in Iceland and ate Icelandic food, still trying to travel Iceland on a budget. It was a trip to remember!
#8 India (+ Himalayas)
The trip to India was my first trip to Asia. I know, not an easy start. But I loved it! I came back to India twice more, attending a traditional Indian wedding and visiting the southern part of the country with Bangalore and Belur, and Halebid temples.
Indonesia was a country, that I wanted to visit for a long time. And I still want to come back! You can see where I’ve been on my 10 days Indonesia itinerary, but it included Bali, doing Mount Bromo hike to the active volcano, and exploring the hardest job in the world in the Kawah Ijen. I will be back for more!
Jordan might be my favourite Middle Eastern country. We spent 10 days in Jordan last NYE break, chasing the amazing views in Petra, hiking in Dana Biosphere Reserve, camping in Wadi Rum desert, and climbing the highest mountain in Jordan. If you are planning to go, make sure to check the guide for the best hotels in Jordan!
Another country, that I visited solo was Uzbekistan. The beginning of my Central Asia Travel left me speechless. It’s such an underrated region.
Kazakhstan in Central Asia will always stay in my memory pictured by the wild horses galloping across the steps with the snow-covered mountains in the background. A dream come true.
Kyrgyzstan was on my travel radar for a long time. I knew there is are a lot of interesting things to do in Kyrgyzstan, including very unique ones. I was not disappointed and enjoyed nature, culture, and welcoming people.
The first time I travelled to the USA was for the whole summer holidays. I came back another time visiting Houston and doing the American Southwest road trip, with LV and LA (which I can highly recommend!).
Trip to the Philippines was my first solo trip to SE Asia, which I thoroughly enjoyed!
The trip to Morocco was short but sweet. Started and ended in Marrakesh riads, it took me through the Atlas mountains and little villages to Ait Ben Haddou, famous movie location, and magical kasbahs.
Uganda surprised me with its astonishing nature and type of environment I have never seen before. That’s where I climbed an unusual volcano Mt.Sabinyo in Mgahinga National Park, home for the mountain gorillas.
I’ve visited the UAE several times, mainly with work. Abu-Dhabi, Dubai, the desert, and places in the north and south. The Middle East is a magical place.
One of my favourite counties, Georgia has it all – delicious food, amazing landscapes, friendly people, and cheap prices!
#24 Ecuador (+Galapagos)
It was my 60th country! I’ve just come back from 3 week trip to Ecuador, which included the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon, and climbing the volcanoes. It was my first time in South America and the best introduction to the continents. I haven’t seen so much variety and biodiversity in one country before!
#25 South Africa
South Africa was the first place where I saw wild penguins! I also instantly fell in love with Cape Town and the wonderful city hikes to Table mountain and Lion’s head.
I visited Russia in winter, for New Year’s Eve break. Together with my two friends, we spent a great time in the freezing temperatures of Moscow and St. Petersburg.
The most memorable place in Rwanda for me was the Genocide Museum in Kigali. The country has a tough history, but it’s a perfectly safe place to visit, full of wonderful sights.
Montenegro is one of my favourite from the Balkan countries. I’ve been there several times, mainly by hitch-hiking. The views from Kotor bay are unbeatable!
I kind of visited Oman twice, first just close to the border with the Emirates and then again, this year, to the district of Musandam Governorate, looking for the fjords of the Middle East!
The number of times that I visited Italy is hard to count. I’ve been there a few times, and every time I happily come back – for the sun, for the food, for the positive energy and the views. Last year, I took there my mum for the first time – it was her first visit to Italy and to Rome (+Vatican).
The other 30 countries
Below are some other countries, that I have visited some time ago. I am not including photos, not to make this post even longer than it already is! If you want to see a photo from a specific country – let me know and I will update it. They are all different from each other, and worth visiting.
#31 The Netherlands
#40 Czech Republic
#51 Bosnia and Herzegovina
#54 North Macedonia
You can also see some of them on the map below:
Would you like to visit any of those countries? Do you count countries you travel to or do you just go with the flow? Let me know in the comments!
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