Today, Stag and I are (will be, as I’m writing this) in Marrakech. A much-needed holiday for the two of us, we’ve been looking forward to this trip for quite some time. More importantly, however, visiting Morocco marks the completion of a Life Goal for me: to see 25 countries before I turn 30. Hello Number 25, you beautiful thing you.
To celebrate this milestone, I’ll be posting all things Travel here on Wolf & Stag over the next few weeks. From travel style to city guides, if a bit of wanderlust and adventure is what you’re after, then you’re in for a treat.
But first, I thought I’d give you lovely readers an anecdote on this happy Saturday. To answer the question I’m sure is at the tip of your tongue: why aim to see 25 countries before I’m 30?
It all started — as all good things start — with a question.
“Eire,” my friend Betsy said to me over dinner one night; I think it was in Croatia 2013, but I see Betsy for a European trip every year, so who knows. “How many countries have you been to?”
“Uhhh… I don’t know. Is that a thing? Do you know?”
“Well,” she explained, probably over a bowl of pasta. We love pasta. “I’ve decided that I want to give myself age goals. Something achievable, but still worth celebrating. 30 by 30, 40 by 40, and so on.”
“Okay…” I replied, shrugging. Betsy is one of the most goal-driven people I’ve ever met, so this statement had the shock-equivalence of stating the time. “We’re on our way to 30, so what’s that one going to be?”
“I want to see 30 countries by the time I’m 30.”
“That seems like a lot, doesn’t it? How many are you on now?
“Well of course you are,” I laugh. Betsy is also one of the most travel-keen people I know and has consistently visited me somewhere in Europe every year since I moved to London. Impressive, since she lives in Washington, D.C. “Are you counting airports?”
“No. It has to be a destination, where you spend at least a day visiting. And you can count your home countries — because, well, you’ve been to them.”
I nod. “That all makes sense. Also, helpful that I can immediately tick off 2 having lived in two different countries,” I say, smiling. I stop for a minute, reflecting. “I wonder how many I’ve been to?”
“I have a running list on my phone, to keep track. It helps to write them all down.”
Later that night, I drew up My List, which would remain nestled in the ‘Notes’ section of my phone for the next four years. Before I even knew it, I was planning trips to new countries, determined to tick new countries off ‘the list’ “No, Stag, I can’t go to Spain this year, you know that. New Country!”
However, starting at a meagre 18 and having many trips back to the US to take, I knew I’d never be able to match Betsy’s. I settled on 25 — a comfortable, yet still ambitious, goal with a nice number symmetry.
My ’25 Countries Before I’m 30′ Life Goal quickly caught on, and now I know many people with their own ‘country list’ in their phones. Stag even decided to join my ambition, in a way: he’s over 30 already, but now, he wants to have seen 25 countries before I’m 30.
“It’s not that I want to beat you,” he’d explain to me lovingly (he definitely did not tell me to add in ‘lovingly’). “I just think it’s only fair we see new countries I haven’t been to, too.”
And that takes us to Morocco. Number 25 for me; Stag’s 24th (yep, I win). A new country for both of us; a memory we will aways have, together.
Next up: 50 US States Before I’m 50. Here we go…
Want to Reach your own Number 25? (Or 30, if You’re Ambitious)
Here are ‘the rules’ that I’ve just made up:
- There are 196 countries in the world. Your list will be how many you’ve seen of those 196.
- Yes, this includes countries you’ve lived in, such as the UK and the USA.
- No, England/Scotland/Wales are not separate countries (had someone ask me if that counted the other day!).
- Yes, it includes teeny tiny countries, such as Vatican City (fun fact: I’ve literally circled the border of Vatican City, and therefore, a country. A story for another time…)
- If you’re already over 30 (I’m nearly there folks), then why not make your own goal? 35 countries before 40, or 40 world heritage sites before 40? And so on.