Gary is currently in Grand Chute, WI (May 22nd, 2015)

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8 Places I Am Embarrassed To Say I’ve Never Been


Over the last five and a half years I’ve managed to visit 116 countries and territories around the world. Despite that, there are still many places I have yet to step foot. Most people are surprised that I’ve never been to these countries because they are so big and many are popular destinations for travelers.

Sure, I’ve been to Nauru, Vanuatu, Samoa, Liechtenstein and San Marino, but they are just specks on the map. There are some enormous holes on my list of countries.

So with all humility, here is my list of places I’m ashamed to say I haven’t yet visited:


Probably the biggest hole in my travel resume is the fact that I haven’t been to the most populous country in the world. I haven’t seen the Great Wall or the Terra Cotta Warriors. I haven’t been to Beijing or Shanghai. I actually did intend to visit China back in 2008. I even went to the Chinese embassy in Samoa to get a visa. By the time I actually got to a point where I could go to China, it was winter so I postponed it and by the time I was ready to go, China stopped issuing visas before the Olympics.

I’ve been shockingly close to China. When I was in Macau I was probably 100m from the border. I’ve also been in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but I’ve never actually stepped foot in the PRC.


India is the one place I get asked about more than any other. I have a bunch of Indian readers and “when are you coming to India?” is one of my most frequent questions. I had an opportunity to visit India back in 2009 but I didn’t go because I would only have had a week to visit. India is so large and complex, I don’t want to short change any visit I make. My attitude towards India now is to just treat it like several countries and when I go I’ll probably just visit one region at a time. Anything more than that would be too ambitious.


Russia is approximately 1/6 of the Earth’s land mass and I haven’t been there. The closest I’ve come was debating flying to Vladivostok when I was in South Korea, but it was too cold and I went to Hong Kong instead. I’m planning to rectify this by taking the Trans-Mongolian Railroad from St. Petersburg to Beijing.


Brazil rounds out the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) for places I’ve never visited. I’ve been invited to speak at conferences in Brazil on two separate occasions, but each time I had a conflict which didn’t allow me to go. I have no doubt that I’ll eventually get to Brazil, it is just a matter of when and how.


I have Peru on my list because one of my sponsors, G Adventures, is the world’s biggest tour provider on the Inca Trail. Peru is a huge part of their business, and I have yet to visit. I haven’t been to Machu Picchu despite the fact that it is one of the most iconic attractions in the world.


A lot of people go to Jamaica. As countries go, Jamaica has a disproportionately large cultural impact on the world given its size. Jamaica relies heavily on tourism and has many resorts, but I haven’t been there yet. Here too, I’ve been invited to Jamaica, but the timing of the visit just didn’t work out.

Saskatchewan/US Virgin Islands

Saskatchewan and the US Virgin Islands really have nothing in common with each other save for one thing: Saskatchewan is the only Canadian province I have yet to visit and USVI is the only US territory I haven’t visited. Last March I finally got around to visiting my 50th US State: South Carolina. I’d like to visit both places, if for no other reason than I don’t have to say I’ve visited all but one province/territory. UPDATE I visited the US Virgin Islands in June 2013 and Saskatchewan in June 2014.

What things are strangely missing from your travel resume?

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  1. Jack Kent says:

    I got jealous about your post since you have experienced to travel almost around the world. Visiting 116 countries and territories is amazing, not to mention Samoa and San Marino. All I can say is WOW. I hope someday I can experience also what you have did.
    I’ve heard a lot about Jamaica specially about their beaches. I also want to see the great wall of China and the Terra Cotta Warriors which are a legends. But for now they will only remain in my dreams :).

  2. I just stumbled upon this, and was very surprised when I got to the last one on your list … I’m from Saskatchewan!! :-)

  3. Natalie T. says:

    PS I actually have been to Jamaica! It’s great. Ocho Rios is OK – I’d say skip and go to Negril for the beaches if that’s your thing.

  4. Natalie T. says:

    I have a long way to go in the travel resume but as a Canadian, I have only been to 4 out of the 10 provinces. Canada is terribly expensive to travel and I’d rather visit more exotic destinations first. That said, I’ve been trying to make Canada more of a priority.

  5. I fully understand you, I have been places like Benin and Kazakhstan but never been in China or Vietnam, where almost everyone have been. One day, one day, will come for all of us :) And 116 countries in 5,5 year is pretty spectacular!

  6. Julio Moreno says:

    Will you finally go to China Gary? I actually have a trip to Peru in two months!

  7. Barbara says:

    Have u been in Asturias, in the north of Spain That place u shouldnt miss!!!!!

  8. Mike says:

    Gary, don’t miss out on Peru – most people think about Machu Picchu or the Inca Trail, but Peru is mostly rainforest so no trip is complete without experiencing the rainforest. I visited for the first time in 1997 7 have been going back to the rainforest ever since and now promote responsible travel to the Peruvian Amazon Tambopata region just 30 minutes flight (or 10 hours by bus) from Cusco.

  9. Those are some major countries to have missed for such a seasoned traveler, but I’m more impressed by the fact you hit all 50 states! I can’t wait to have visited my 50th US state – I’ve been stuck at 48 for nearly a decade, but my family is itching to complete the last two in the next several years. Alaska and Hawaii are a bit harder to get to than the rest!

  10. Kathy says:

    I see Barbados is in your list for 2013… have a great time! Looking forward to reading of your adventures there.

  11. Mind blowing Gary!!!! 196 countries….. You are one experienced traveler! but don’t miss Jamaica….one of the finest places to visit with fantastic colourful beaches…….

  12. DJ Yabis says:

    I have been traveling around in Europe for 3 years and I haven’t even been to Switzerland and Austria and the Balkans. Yikes.

  13. Dalia says:

    Wo0ow..!! It was really surprising to me that you have never been in these counties, specially because are really important in the economies of these days… I just thought that they were on the firsts lines on your check list but I’m pretty sure that you will be there and hopefully I be here behind my computer to read about it. I love your blogs..!

  14. Gary, I’d be happy to show you around parts of Norway. I took in two of the six UNESCO World Heritage sites here last week and both were spectacular.

    • Joel Oleson says:

      You definitely have been saving some really good ones. I LOVED my India trip. Amazing Place with incredible cultures. There are so many cities and UNESCO sites with different feel to each of them. China is similar in that it’s HUGE with big variety. I keep going back. I think it’s smart to break down china by region and same with India, Brazil and like you did in Canada and US. I’m down to North Dakota as my last state and a handful of Canadian Provinces. Jamaica was first on my list of places I wanted to go, but still haven’t made it and I’m somewhere around 137 on the country count. Crazy.
      Visas I’m finding to be the biggest challenge going forward. Breaking down the big countries and promising you’ll see the variety will help. While I’ve been to China I won’t count it as fully being seen until I’ve visited Tibet for example.

      Love the blog. Great work!


  15. Well, Considering you have been almost everywhere else – we can forgive you these 5 places. Although you’ll have to put them on your docket – They are INCREDIBLE!

  16. Dotti says:

    I’ve been to four of these. But still have lots of others I’ve missed, including Antarctica and Indonesia. Plus two states….alaska and so Dakota.

  17. Dotti says:

    Your Messageive been to four of these. But still have lots of others I’ve missed, including Antarctica and Indonesia. Plus two states….alaska and so Dakota.

  18. Greetings from China … Certainly there’s many gaps in most people’s travels … I’ve been to most of these places … BUT guess what? After being a continuous nomadic – since 1988 – 110+ countries and territories – I’m yet to travel the USA !!! (have passed thru 3 airports …). One day.

    Gary, might want to consider: Yemen, Mongolia, Morocco, Tajikistan, Iran, Mali … many gems out there.

  19. You absolutely need to check out Jamaica. The food, the music, the people, the scenery. Amazing.

  20. melissa says:

    I beg of you that when you go to Peru and do Machu Picchu to PLEASE use a domestic company to do it. And when I say a domestic, I mean Peruvian domestic. All the money spent with those companies help and provide for the people there whereas big US tour companies, it just doesn’t. I don’t know if G Adventures is like that but if they are US based it is most likely. I just feel that if you are going to a 3rd world country and have the oppotunity to contribute to the local economy and benefit them directly, that that is part of the experience. :) PS, i am going to Russia and the Ukraine next year…meet you there? lol

    • Gary says:

      1) G Adventures is Canadian, not American.

      2) They only hire local Peruvians. They probably hire more people in Peru than any other tour company.

  21. Scott Prokop says:

    So you haven’t been to Saskatchewan? I am a local professional photographer from the largest city, Saskatoon, in the province that would love to take you around to photograph our landscape. Feel free to visit my of some of my best shots to help inspire you. Drop me an email and we can start planning today.

  22. I think I’m the only backpacker who spent over 12 months in South America without actually visiting Peru.

  23. Abby says:

    I have to admit that I keep a list! I know, it’s a bit dorky, but I have a list that I constantly update of places I still want to visit and it’s organized into weekend/long weekend trips, 1 week and 2+ week trips. I color code each place in green for predominantly hiking trips and yellow if the trip is already planned. The places in bold are my “priorities”. As I currently live in France, my major weekend trip “hole” is La Rochelle/Ile-de-Re. I need to get there. Outside France, my priorities are Israel, Nepal, India, Mongolia, New Zealand (not necessarily in that order). But there are many, many more on the wish list….

  24. Deane Alban says:

    I’m chagrined that I’ve never been to Mexico. I live in Tucson so could easily be there by dinner time!

    • Andrew Gagne says:

      Mexico has so many great places, and a lot of them are inland are are therefore less touristy (or at least visited by a different type of traveler). San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Cuernavaca, Oaxaca. You could spend weeks getting to know the interesting little neighborhoods of Mexico City (now considered one of Mexico’s safest places).

  25. Andrew Gagne says:

    Saskatchewan…yeah, I guess you should go, since it’s the only one left. One of the other commenters here said that Sask IS Canada…not sure I’m buying what he’s selling…

    There are really two Sasks…southern prairie Sask, and northern lakes and forest Sask. Make sure you go North. It’s remote, and full of lakes and great fishing.

    I double-dog dare you to go in the heart of winter. Go ice fishing! If you do go in the summer, make sure you go to Regina to see a Roughriders football game, so that you can experience “Rider Nation”.

    Don’t forget to ask the locals for a bottle of ‘Pil.

  26. Definitely some surprising misses but I’m sure you’ll get to visit them soon. Mainland China, India & Russia are very high on my list too!
    Peru is amazing and has so much to offer. Probably one of my favorite places that I’ve been!

  27. Hard to believe you’ve never visited China, Gary! But I know the feeling…I finally scratched San Francisco off my list earlier this month, but I still must see Chicago and Boston…

  28. Kieu says:

    I remember you mentioning China but am surprised to see Peru on the list. But nothing to be embarrassed about. The world is a big big place. You should make a list of places you’ve been that we may never heard of. That’s a great list! :)

  29. Dave says:

    WOW! Stunned to see you haven’t been to China, Russia, India or Brazil! I’m excited for you that there is always so much more to see.

  30. Haha, I call them my “egregious travel oversights” — and mine are pretty bad. The Netherlands, Greece, China, Central America, New Orleans, Chicago.

    Worst of all: I’m a lifelong Masshole who hasn’t yet been to Martha’s Vineyard OR Nantucket! Every summer at home I promise myself this will be the year…

    The Indian readers are persistent, huh? I get asked “When are you coming to India?” all the time as well…I almost did this year but it was cancelled last minute when a sponsor pulled out. You’re right, it is pretty enormous as a travel destination unless you think of it as several countries…

  31. Matt Wall says:

    Saskatchewan is amazing and its a shame you havent been there. You dont know Canada until youve been to Saskatchewan. Theres so much history there that Saskatchewan IS Canada. Go to Grasslands, Grey Owls cabin, Batoche, Moose Jaw or in the northern lakes Uranium City if you want adventure and remote…just to get you started!

    • Andrew Gagne says:

      Matt…yer killin’ me with the “Sask is Canada”. Don’t get me wrong…I love the place, and I have no better friends than my mates from Indian Head and Caddy. Truth be told, you can’t beat the spirit of Rider Nation, or your bizarre dedication to your provincial bevvy…that god-awful ‘Pil.

  32. Noir says:

    That’s quite a surprise considering your vast travelling experirences. I’ve never been to Peru, US Virgin Islands and Jamaica. I hope to land on Bob Marley’s territory someday. Keep going Gary, besides finding out new places, your posts help me reminisce. I haven’t had the wisdom to record my past travels.

  33. sasha says:

    What about Uzbekistan and Faroe Islands? M

  34. Sara says:

    Until very recently I hadn’t seen/set foot on either of the Atlantic or Pacific coasts of North America, despite having flown overseas several times. And more than a decade ago I spent two weeks studying Spanish in Cuzco, but never made it to Machu Picchu – this I will remedy very soon.

  35. Erik says:

    I’ve been to 48 states and the two I’ve missed are easy to guess- Alaska & Hawaii. I should really clear those up soon.

    I haven’t been anywhere in South America, just figuring I’s knock that one out on my way to an Antarctic cruise eventually.

    I also haven’t been to San Diego, which is the largest US metropolis and the only one in the Top 50 I haven’t been to.

  36. Gary;
    I copied one of your images of stromatolites at Hamelin Pool, Australia, with the idea of using it to show its similarities with some evaporite rocks at Meridiani, Mars taken by the NASA rover Opportunity.

    I’d be most grateful if you would give me permission to use the image in an Ebook that I’m hoping to put out soon with the title “The search for life on Mars”. The thrust of the book will be that the images being sent back from Mars on an almost daily basis shows some features that suggest the subsurface is damp and may be hiding microbial life.


    Winston Small

  37. Collette V says:

    I agree with several of your readers…you owe it to yourself to visit India. I never had the desire to go there until a friend talked me into it. It remains one of my fondest travel memories. The people is what made me fall in love with India…they were lovely, gentle human beings and so proud of their country and their culture <3

  38. Ben says:

    I thought you were going to put the one major American city you’ve never visited–also a major travel destination, and the most unique city in the country!

  39. chinamatt says:

    There are more than a few places missing from my visited list. But I’ll get there…slowly. I’m willing to take my time to enjoy what I can while I can. At least I got the extensive traveling in China out of the way.

  40. Grant says:

    I´ll be opening a hostel in the very near future in Brazil so when you finally get down here you got a place to crash!

  41. Melanie says:

    Yes, every traveler has holes on their list. I’m surprised, though, that I’ve been everywhere on your list except India and Saskatchewan, considering that there are so many places you’ve been that I’ve never been. I’m up to 40+ countries on six continents but nowhere near your number. I highly recommend all the places on your list that I have visited, and I know you’ll get there eventually.

    • Melanie says:

      P.S. Of all the wonderful countries on your bucket list, Brazil would be my #1.

      • Melanie says:

        P.P.S. One more thing – sorry. To actually answer your question, the most embarrassing omissions from my list are New Orleans and some of America’s great state parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. I even hate to admit those.

  42. Bahram says:

    does it mean that you have been to Iran???

    • Gary says:

      No. Iran is difficult for Americans to travel to. These are just a list of places most people may have thought I’d already been to.

  43. LOOOL! Ask anyone who knows me well – I have been saying for years: “EVERY seasoned travel writer or editor has huge holes in their travel log they feel embarrassed about”! So I’m totally not surprised m8!

    I’ve been to 50+ countries but like you, never been to China or Russia (why is it always the big countries on the map?) and never to South America, but I have a good excuse there – I’ve sent numerous journalists who were better skilled to cover it (have lived there/ were going there anyway/ spoke latin American Spanish fluently, that sort of thing).

    I agree with Pol about India. You should go.

  44. No one gets everywhere! Which one of these places might be next? India is definitely a “do” on my travel to-do list. China blew me away, I went to more remote areas, like Yunnan Province, instead of Beijing and Shanghai. I’d love to see India. I hope you get to Peru, especially with that great sponsor connection!

  45. I have been to 3 out of your embarassment list, but I guess the Great Wall of China will always be there, so there is no real hurry! Keep trotting elsewhere …am sure like me, you will get there eventually! lol tgc:)

  46. Cat says:

    My thoughts…

    Well, get going! I think the way you thought of handling India was a good one…

    if it were me 100m from a border, I could never have passed up an opportunity to place one foot over it ;-)

    I am embarrassed to say I have traveled to Europe dozens of times, yet have never been to Minneapolis! (I live in Chicago ;-)

    I do have a bucket list, and will whittle down my wish list, and all the places you mention are on it… keep on traveling!

  47. There is always some place to go, as long as you keep moving you will hit them all!

    For me, India is on the bucket list mostly for the food! China, well China is awesome. So much to do, so rich in culture. mmm Maybe I should go back there ;)

  48. Larissa says:

    Glad to see Ukraine is not on this list ;) I believe you’ve more than made up for not making it to any of these places yet and for good reason – most of them are monsters/hassles to get visas for. In due time. And yes, today is the day that I am conducting my very scientific/ground-breaking research on your blog (hence comment bomb).

  49. Jenn says:

    Definitely get yourself to Peru! It’s beautiful and a cultural experience. I went there solo in 2008 and though there are some safety things to be aware of (they were videotapping everyone on buses and matching it with your passport, for identification purposes should the bus get hijacked), it was a really great trip for me.

  50. Pol says:

    In my opinion and for my experience, India is a country you should go for a long term trip. Firstly because it’s huge but secondly and most important because it takes, at least, a couple of weeks to just get used of the country and start really enjoying and feeling it! Keep travelling!

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About Gary Arndt

My name is Gary Arndt. In March 2007 I set out to travel around the world...
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