I ran the numbers the other day and discovered I’ve travelled to sixteen different countries. This isn’t too bad for someone who didn’t start travelling in earnest until my late twenties. And for someone who’s been to many places more than once.
In no particular order, here are the countries I’ve visited:
• Australia (multiple times)
• Vanuatu x 2 (including once to get married)
• US x 3
• UK (England, Scotland and Wales) x 8
• Germany x 2
• France x 2
• Italy + Vatican City (nearly forgot them)
• Finland x 7 (I worked for a Finnish-owned company)
• India x 3 (the Finnish-owned company I worked for did business in India)
• South Africa (for the World Cup – no other reason)
• Hong Kong (stop-over on the way to the World Cup)
Add in the fact I’m from New Zealand, once set foot outside the airport at Stockholm, stopped at Innsbruck once on a train (can’t count those two as country visits, unfortunately) and have spent more time than I’d care to remember in the airports at Singapore and Bangkok, then it’s fair to say I’ve been out and about.
Not nearly enough, of course, but it’s a good start.
Now, I’m a keen and interested, if not overly adventurous traveller. I really do prefer to doss down in a decent hotel rather than a dingy backpacker’s. And I rarely travel too far off the beaten track. I had a sleepless night before I visited Germany for the first time because of the “language barrier” for God’s sake. I would never have gone to India if it wasn’t for work or South Africa if New Zealand hadn’t qualified for the World Cup.
A shrink could have a field day with that, but I know the main reason for my early hesitancy is because I’m a sheltered Kiwi from a small town. It took a lot to shake off the hardwired tepidness towards strange, let alone crazy, places.
Thankfully I have, at least to a certain extent. India ranks near the top of my best trips list because it is so different to where I come from. For life experience, especially my first trip, I’ve had nothing to match it. Germany was great after I adjusted (it took all of about half an hour). And South Africa was memorable although, it must be said, that was mainly due to the football.
I’ve been to my share of cool places. Every time I visit London it almost feels like I’m going home. Amsterdam is brilliant, especially by bike. Rome is monumental. Venice is a soggy, ancient Disneyland. Switzerland is even better than the pictures in the postcards (especially on a train travelling from Geneva to Zurich). And Vegas is, well, Vegas.
The best place I’ve visited so far is Sorrento in Italy. Everything about my visit which, thankfully, was shared with my wife just worked. The time was right (late honeymoon and a few days before we headed to Germany for the 2006 World Cup), the place was perfect and the people were great (just ask my wife about Marco…). Best of all, it was so unexpected. We only really went there as an add on to a visit to Naples and Pompeii.
I guess that sums up what is so special about travel. And why, now I’ve got over my tepidness (sorry, newly found word which, with repetition, will eventually be locked in to my limited vocabulary), I want to do so much more.
I plan to post an article on most of the places I’ve visited, with my take on what worked for me and what sucked. Kind of a (small) world according to Dwayne. What’s in it for me? I get to produce a permanent record of where I’ve been for me and my family. What’s in it for you? Hopefully some useful travel advice on places you might like to visit. And maybe, if we’re lucky, a laugh or two along the way.
Before I get stuck in to all of that, I’d like to look to the future. Where do I want to go next? Making lists and setting goals helps to get things done, so here we go – the first step. Please, feel free to hold me accountable.
So, where to next?
I’m definitely not one of those guys who wants to go everywhere but I do want to see some more. Actually, quite a bit more. Brazil and Russia are already on the agenda, not least because they’ll be holding the next World Cups. Chile, Argentina and Uruguay are appealing too, but I’m not sure about the rest of South America. Maybe Peru for Machu Pichu and that will do.
People have said nice things about Canada, so I’ll go there someday. Vancouver sounds special and the pictures I’ve seen of Lake Louise are out of this world. I’d also like to see a bit more of the USA, mainly the East Coast, Texas, Florida and Montana (I want to see just how big the sky is in Big Sky country). And Salt Lake City – that salt lake has me interested.
As for Europe, Ireland and the Isle of Man should be ticked off for differing reasons, but mainly to complete the UK set, while Spain and Greece are the big two in southern Europe I still need to get to. Actually, there’s probably no better time than the present to visit this little lot. Nice and cheap…
I’d like to complete another set – Scandinavia – so we’ll add Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Liechtenstein and Luxembourg (because of their names), along with Austria and the Czech Republic, and possibly Hungary too, would just about do it for me in Europe. Maybe a cruise down the Danube would top things off quite nicely.
I’m a bit of an Asia-phobe, but I’d like to have a look at China and Japan. They’re both massive in many different ways and I’d like to see what the fuss is all about. As for Africa and the Middle East, well, not really. Egypt would be great because of the Nile and the history, but I might wait until things settle down a bit. Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE could be worth a look just to suck in the unadulterated wealth. And by 2022 I might be forced to visit Qatar, although one can only hope that FIFA has come to its senses by then and moved their World Cup to a country that actually deserves it.
I guess I’d better add a few island nations to the list. I should really get to Fiji and the Cook Islands because they’re so damn close to home, and Tahiti too. Singapore holds appeal because I’ve been through the airport so many times and would like, at least once, to step outside. The Bahamas and Jamaica scream out as the best in the Caribbean, while Malta and Iceland must be included for their novelty value.
So that’s upwards of 30 more countries to get to and two-thirds of a lifetime (inside joke with my wife) in which to do it. And it’s a nice safe little itinerary too. No real threats. Just the way I like it. Where to first?