I sat down the other day and made a list of the 40 sensational countries I had visited in the last decade. The last 10 years have gone by quickly, children have become adults, jobs have changed, loved ones have passed, but travel has been consistent throughout it all.
Let’s be honest travel gets us through life and gives us something to focus on. It removes us from our normal routine and firmly transports us to new adventures, sometimes out of our comfort zone, pushing us to achieve new goals.
Whether it be a beach, a city or even a jungle, we develop ourselves as individuals because of travel and the experiences we encounter on the way. I know that the destinations I have visited over the last decade have left memories imprinted in my mind and soul and have shaped who I am today. Here’s to the next decade of travel!
I thought it might be fun to share the sensational countries I have visited along with a short description of the lasting memory I took from each trip and a link to some of the blogs I have written for some of the destinations. I hope to inspire you to travel more in the next decade and to visit some of the sensational countries I have been to!
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Updated June 2020
I wrote this post at the end of last year before the pandemic hit the world. With travel cancelled for the foreseeable future, I am even more grateful that I have done so much in the last ten years. 2020 will be the first year I have not stepped on a plane since I was 19 – that’s a lot of years. This year my priorities have changed, and travel is not high up there on my agenda – staying safe and keeping my family healthy is all that matters to me.
I have cancelled trips, or they have been cancelled on me, but I have managed to move most of them to 2021 in the hope that next year sees the world returning to some normality and a vaccine found for this horrendous and destructive disease. Until then, I am happy staying in my own backyard and living vicariously through my previous adventures.
Total Number of Sensational Countries I Visited in a Decade: 40 with repeat visits back to several of them.
A country with a history leading back to biblical times. Its culture, landmarks and fabulous ocean are like nowhere else on earth.
My memory: Snorkelling in the Red Sea in a living aquarium. The number of fish species you can see is phenomenal.
South Africa is a place like no other. If you love wildlife, amazing landscapes, wine and great food, then you are going to really enjoy a road trip through this magnificent country.
My memory: Going on safari and being in the middle of a pack of lions after a kill. What a thrilling but scary experience.
A destination where you can travel back in time to see temples set in jungles, navigate the streets in tuk-tuks and eat the delicious Cambodian food.
My memory: Walking into Bayan temple in Angkor and not being able to move or speak for a couple of minutes because it took my breath away.
A fascinating culture which is a mix of the old and new. Explore the markets, parks, landmarks and cruise across Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong is an ascent on the senses.
My memory: Visiting Lantau Island and the Big Buddha was very spiritual.
At the top of my list of sensational countries is The Maldives, and in 2015, I finally made it to the island resort of Baros.
My memory: Snorkelling around the reef and literally bumping heads with a turtle. I don’t know who was more startled, the turtle or me. Oh and looking next to me and realising 2 blacktip sharks had been swimming beside me (don’t worry they don’t eat humans!)
I travelled to Penang and wasn’t sure what to expect. What I found was a treasure trove of temples, jungles, street art, clan houses and great food. There are so many other sensational things to do in Malaysia from exploring cities, relaxing on beautiful islands to having once-in-a-lifetime animal encounters.
My memory: Doing the street art trail at night with my son and drinking the best mojito slush!
Thailand – the country of a million smiles and that is so true. The people are so friendly, and the history of Thailand with its temples and religion is fascinating. A definite must to add to your own travel wish list.
My memory: Taking part in Songkran (Thai New Year) and joining in with the water fights that were cleansing Thailand’s people ready for their new lunar year. The locals in Koi Samui included us in their festivities as if we were old friends and it was a fantastic experience.
Singapore is definitely a country to visit in its own right and not just a stop-over on your way to some other far-flung destination. It offers amazing architectural landmarks, the famous Singapore zoo and botanical gardens, cultural neighbourhoods, Sentosa Island with its golden beaches and of course, the Singapore Sling!
My memory: Walking around the Gardens of the Bay at 1 am (we couldn’t sleep) and having the place to ourselves. Imagine that, no crowds!!
Vietnam needs to be on everyone’s list of sensational countries to visit as it is simply amazing. The people, culture, landscapes, and food offer everything you could want and more!
My memory: Trying to kayak and not realising that I was simply making us go around in circles. I had to be told to stop by my son and that he would take control unless I wanted us to float off into the South China Sea. Sometimes you have to listen to your kids!
More American-Caribbean than other countries I have visited and so a completely different feel to places such as Jamaica and Barbados.
My memory: The endless talcum-powder sand and the Dutch capital Oranjestad. Not what I expected to find in a Caribbean Island.
My favourite of all the Caribbean Islands I have been to as Barbados has so much to see and do. Hire a car and drive yourself around this beautiful island to really understand the vibe!
My memory: My husband going down with a fever, meaning I arrived with him, but no-one saw him again for a week. One of the holiday staff asked me what I had done with him. A local brown sludge was the remedy, and we were able to spend the second week together!
Antigua offers 365 beaches – one for every day of the year – but if you need more to keep you entertained check out the history of the island starting at English Harbour.
My memory: Swimming with stingrays and looking under the water and seeing hundreds of them all laying on the bottom of the sand.
Bob Marley, Reggae, Rum Punch, Beaches, Blue Oceans are all waiting to be explored in Jamaica. A beautiful island in the Caribbean Ocean.
My memory: Insisting that my 20-year-old son was not going to be diving off the rocks at Rick’s Cafe and then doing exactly that myself (after a few rum punches for courage)
Turks and Caicos
With sandy beaches and azure waters, this is an island just to chill out and relax.
My memory: Hiring a car and taking it back after 4 hours as we had seen everything. This is definitely just a relaxing beach holiday.
Bruges is a charming city full of canals and interesting buildings. Try the chocolate, beer and waffles for a real taste of Bruges.
My memory: Sitting in a canal-side bar in Bruges trying a “beer flight” a selection of beers to taste. I thought I’d hate it as I don’t drink beer, but I ended up going back a second time!!
I loved the history of Croatia, the beautiful scenery and the friendly people. This is back on my own list of sensational countries to visit in the next decade.
My memory: Sitting on Kolocep island watching the sun go down with a crisp glass of Croatian wine. Simple but perfect.
Prague is probably my favourite Eastern European city as it offers so much to see and do on a trip.
My memory: Exploring Prague’s Jewish Quarter and learning about the sacrifices that were made.
The four main islands of Lanzarote, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura are packed with fabulous beaches, interesting sights to see, and a wealth of luxury villas to book!
My memory: Visiting these islands for the last time with my children before they grew up!!
A trip to Denmark will give you an understanding of the Scandinavian term Hygge. Cosy restaurants, charming buildings and a wealth of sightseeing to do makes this a perfect city break.
My memory: A pre-Christmas trip that ended with cancelled flights home due to drones flown above Gatwick!
My memory: As this is my home, there are too many memories to list, but if you have never been, then it is time you did. The United Kingdom is a wonderful and diverse country to visit.
A fairytale town located in Eastern Europe should be a must on any list of sensational countries to explore. Churches on every corner, artisan shops, charming cafes and plenty of historical landmarks complete a visit to Tallinn.
My memory: Going on a ghost tour and finding out just how haunted Tallinn is!
France (many times)
My memory: Visiting the French Riviera and exploring fairytale villages, culture and ancient landmarks – a fantastic weekend trip.
A history with a diverse history waiting to be discovered. Check out its busy cities and then head out to its forests for a back to nature experience.
My memory: Visiting the German Christmas markets to get a real festive feeling.
With a communist past, this Eastern European city offers the visitor a wealth of history to uncover. Visit the spa baths for which the city is famous, a tour of parliament or maybe a trip to the Jewish Quarter.
My memory: Getting heatstroke on an April afternoon and then having to sit through a 7-course tasting dinner at Budapest’s most exclusive restaurant while shivering and feeling ill. Not the greatest memory, but I still fell in love with Budapest.
The land of Ice and Fire has some of the most dramatic landscapes I have ever seen. Powerful waterfalls, geysers and glaciers all offer the visitor a true sense of power and adventure.
My memory: Visiting Pingvillir – the first-ever government seat – and feeling something quite calming about it.
Italy (many times)
La Dolce Vita is such an apt saying to describe Italy. The historical sights, towns, villages and countryside. Food, beaches and the Italian people all make this a country that should make it on everyone’s bucket lists.
My memory: Finally getting to Venice after waiting 29 years for my husband to “surprise” me with a trip. In the end, I booked it myself, and it was worth the wait. One of the nicest destinations I have ever been to.
The second smallest country in the world certainly packs a punch when it comes to exploring its principality. Go on a day trip from Nice or stay for the weekend and absorb the wealth and power in this tiny country.
My memory: Gambling on the slots in Monte Carlo and feeling like I was on a James Bond movie set.
Fjords, Mountains, Countryside, Fishing villages all offer you a great experience when you visit Norway. Oh and watch out for those Trolls!!
My memory: Cruising through the fjords while lying in bed with a cup of tea and looking out at the beauty of nature.
Traditional villages, stunning beaches, alluring countryside, and great gastronomy are all waiting for your visit.
My memory: Port wine tasting and eating dinner in Porto with new friends we had made on our tour. I love to travel and meet new people.
Russia is one of the most sensational countries that must feature on your bucket list as it is just so different from anywhere else. Golden church spires glitter from every angle, Russian palaces wait to blow your mind, and Red Square just has to be visited to hear about its turbulent history.
My memory: Standing in torrential rain in the middle of Red Square and realising that this summed up exactly how we had envisaged Moscow to be. Cold, grey and wet but perfect.
A road trip to Scotland favourites for visitors to the United Kingdom.
My memory: Driving around Skye and just feeling so small compared to the mountains and landscape.
Spain (many times)
Spain has it all – Beaches, Countryside, Cities, history, tradition and good food and wine. Book that flight right now!
My memory: Watching an authentic flamenco dance whilst enjoying tapas in Seville. Being absorbed in the culture and music was fantastic.
Stunning mountainside vistas will have you wanting more and more of Switzerland. Chocolate-box villages, amazing hikes and of course cheese fondues are all activities you need to try on your next visit.
My memory: Driving around Lake Thun and visiting the beautiful castles that sit on the shoreline.
Eastern Europe has a lot of hidden gems, and Ljubljana in Slovenia is one of them. Head away from the towns and cities and discover the countryside’s beauty with hikes and lakes to explore.
My memory: Climbing the hill to Ljubljana castle and then realising a funicular train runs from the bottom to the top.
A quieter neighbour to Dubai, Abu Dhabi offers the same luxury levels but on a much smaller scale.
My memory: Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and witnessing the sun setting over this stunning piece of architecture.
Dubai (many times)
Dubai is one of the sensational countries in the UAE and a firm favourite for travellers from all over the world. Dubai oozes luxury and great service, and of course, Dubai’s hotels and beaches are the best in the world. Dubai offers the traveller a diverse range of things to see and do during a trip.
My memory: So many memories from Dubai, but seeing my son scuba dive with sharks in the Dubai Mall Aquarium whilst all the shopper gathered around to watch was pretty special.
Luxury Hotels, beaches, diving and trips into the mountains make Oman a place for culture and adventure.
My memory: Being taken to an Irish pub in Muscat where all the Arab gentlemen were sitting with tourists drinking Guinness. Very surreal to say the least and just to let you know it would not have been my choice to go to the pub but the person we were with insisted!
Australia’s vast size means you can find just about anything you could ever possibly want to do and see all in one country. Take a road trip around Oz, and the memories will stay with you for a lifetime.
My memory: Visiting Kangaroo Island was such a wonderful experience. Being able to get so close with all the animals was a dream. Travelling around the country for 6 weeks on a road-trip with my son was the best thing ever.
Without a doubt, New Zealand has it all as one of the most sensational countries in the world. The saying ‘the great outdoors’ must have been hatched in NZ as it is the most beautiful country I have ever visited. Day trips from Auckland give visitors to North Island a chance to experience the most amazing landmarks.
My memory: Staying with my best friends and visiting Hobbiton. I had to keep reminding myself it was a film set.
California (2 times)
The west coast of the United States offers such a diverse range of activities and locations from the wilderness in Yosemite National Park to Las Vegas’s glitz. An area of extremes and a definite contender for your bucket list countries.
My memory: Camping in Yosemite and asking my son to make sure all his food was put away in the bear-proof lockers only to discover the next day that he had kept half a sandwich under his bed as he wanted to see a bear!
Florida (3 times)
Let’s talk Mickey Mouse, Space Launches, Beaches, Burgers, Animal Encounters. Florida offers everything for all generations.
My memory: Taking my children back to the place that my husband and I went on honeymoon and watching the most amazing sunsets over St Petersburg Beach.
I hope you have found a destination from my 40 sensational countries that you will try out.
Please leave me a comment to let me know where it will be.
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