After 11 Years of Traveling Around the World, What’s Left? (Answer: A Lot)

I recently celebrated my 11 year anniversary of turning over the keys to my house to travel around the world. Since I started traveling full-time I’ve done and seen more than most people ever will in their lives. I’ve been to over 120 countries, 340 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and all 7 continents.

After so much travel, I get asked by many people “what’s left?”

The simple answer is that there is a whole lot left. The world is huge and in some respects, I feel like I have barely scratched the surface. The more your travel, the more places you learn about which you want to visit. The potential universe of places I want to visit is much larger now than it was back in 2007 just because I’ve become more aware.

I’ve compiled a list of places I want to visit and trips I want to take. These are all places I’ve never been to or things I’ve never done before.

I don’t consider this a “bucket list”. I’ve already gone through the equivalent of several bucket lists already. This is more of a “to do” list.

This list is going to be updated over time. I’ll be indicating when I visit places and will be adding more places when I learn about them.

Because I haven’t visited any of these places yet, I obviously can’t use my own photos. I’ve used photos from some of my friends who have been to these places before me and have indicated their contribution in the caption.


Caucuses Trip

Shiomghvime Monastery near Mtskheta, Georgia. (Courtsey of Shannon O’Donnell)

I haven’t been to the Caucuses yet and it is a place I’ve been dying to visit. For years I’ve had a trip I’ve wanted to do in the back of my head where I visit Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia overland. It isn’t a terribly big area, but it is packed full of history and cultural sites. I’m guessing two weeks would be minimum for a trip like this, or maybe 5 days in each country. There are a total of 8 world heritage sites between the three countries and I’d probably visit all eight of them.

Trans Mongolian Railroad

Image courtesy of Jodi from legalnomads.com
Image courtesy of Jodi from Legalnomads.com

I haven’t been to any of the enormous swath of land which is northern Asia. A train trip across Russia would be an amazing experience. Rather than do the Trans-Siberian Railroad, I’d rather take the Trans-Mongolian Railroad which goes to Beijing instead of Vladivostok. It would offer a bit more diversity than just the Russian Taiga, and it would give me a chance to see the steppes of Mongolia too.

Canadian Arctic

I’ve been all over Canada, but technically I haven’t been north of the Arctic Circle in Canada. I’ve been to the Arctic Circle, but never over it. Almost 40% of Canada is north of 66°33″ and there is a lot to see up there. Canada has 5 national parks which are north of the Arctic Circle and all of them are among the least visited national parks on Earth. Of special interest is Quttinirpaaq National Park, which is on the northernmost tip of Ellesmere Island, the northernmost point of Canada.

I’ve actually spent time planning trips and getting cost estimates for visiting some of the very remote national parks in the Canadian Arctic.

Mexico Roadtrip

Church in Oaxaca, Mexico courtesy of Jodi from legalnomads.com
Church in Oaxaca, Mexico courtesy of Jodi from Legalnomads.com

I’ve been to Mexico many times, but only to the Yucatan and to Baja. I haven’t really visited the ‘core’ of Mexico around Mexico City and places such as Oaxaca, Puebla, and Guanajuato. Mexico has a large number of world heritage sites in this area, and I have yet to visit any of them. Ideally, I’d like to rent a car and visit a bunch of these sites with someone who speaks better Spanish than I do.

Okavango Delta

Image courtesy of Dan and Audrey of UncorneredMarket.com
Image courtesy of Dan and Audrey of UncorneredMarket.com

Technically, I’ve been to Botswana. I drove into the country, stayed overnight in the town of Palapye, and drove along the border and back into South Africa. I wouldn’t call my visit a real exploration of the country, and I certainly can’t say I visited any of its top attractions.

The one I really want to visit is the Okavango Delta. It is one of the best places of wildlife in Africa but doesn’t quite get the attention that Tanzania and Kenya get.

Complete the US National Park Service Project

I’m very close to visiting all 60 sites with a national park designation in the US. The ones I have remaining are not too difficult to reach, and I’ve visited all the really hard parks in Alaska and American Samoa. I have a trip to Texas in December to see Big Bend National park. My remaining parks will be in Arizona, California, Maine, and USVI.

Once I visit the 60 “national parks” I’m going to keep pushing forward to visit all 417 sites in the national park system. I’m about 40% of the way there now. I’ve been slowly visiting sites in the midwest, but my ‘to do’ list of sites is getting further and further away.

Bikini Atoll

Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

As far as I know, no one actually lives on Bikini Atoll right now. If there are people, there aren’t many. In addition, to be the eponymous source for the swimsuit, Bikini was the site for nuclear tests in the early 1950’s. The entire population was moved off of the island to live in Majuro, the capital of the Marshall Islands, where they live today.

Oddly enough, the lack of humans on the island for the last 70 years has made the coral there very healthy and Bikini is a great dive site. The radiation levels are safe and it is a place which has always intriegued me.

Iran

Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque - Esfahan, Iran Courtesy of uncorneredmarket.com
Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque – Esfahan, Iran Courtesy of UncorneredMarket.com

Current events always overwhelm any discussion of Iran. The fact is Iran and Persians which preceded them, are one of the oldest cultures on Earth and much of their civilizations can still be found in Iran. Persepolis is probably the best known and one that I’d like to visit the most, but there are dozens of other historic and natural sites in Iran, which is actually a pretty big country.

Great Big China Trip

I’ve never set foot in Mainland China. I’ve been to Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, but never China proper. There is no particular reason for not going, as with many places I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. China is a BIG country and you can’t really see everything in one trip, so I’ll probably have to schedule several trips to China over several years. I think the starting point for this is just to apply for a 10-year Chinese visa now, so I can go whenever I want.

Lesser Australian Islands

Crabs on Christmas Island. Image courtesy of Stefan Krasowski
Crabs on Christmas Island. Image courtesy of Stefan Krasowski of RapidTravelChai.com

I’ve been all over Australia having visited every state and capital city. I’ve driven more in Australia than I have in probably any country other than the US or Canada. I’ve been to every world heritage site on the mainland of Australia. However, there is more to Australia than just the large Australian looking landmass you see on a map. There are several inhabited islands around Australia which have always interested me. They include:

  1. Norfolk Island
  2. Christmas Island
  3. Macquarie Island
  4. Torres Strait Islands
  5. Heard and McDonald Islands

Some of these are pretty easy to get to and can be reached by a regular commercial flight. Others are insanely difficult and can only be reached by a lengthy boat trip.

Peru

People are always surprised when I tell them I haven’t been to Peru, but yeah, I haven’t been to Peru. Macchu Picchu and Cusco are the most obvious places to visit, but I’d also be interested in visiting the Peruvian coast as well as the Peruvian parts of the Amazon Rainforest. When I go to Peru I’ll probably add a trip to Bolivia as well, which I also haven’t been to.

Cuba

I can probably be in Cuba in under 8 hours if I really pushed it. Since the travel ban for Americans was lifted, Cuba has become like Jamaica for me (another country I haven’t visited) in that I can go there almost any time, so I never really make it a priority. I’m pretty sure I’ll get to Cuba sooner rather than later, and I’ll probably even pair it with a trip to Jamaica while I’m at it.

Midway Island

There is only one world heritage site in the United States that I haven’t been to, and it is a real pain in the ass to visit. It is Papahnaumokukea, and it basically consists of all the uninhabited Hawaiian Islands. It is actually a pretty big site, but they don’t allow people to visit any of the islands. There is one exception to this, however: Midway Island.

The problem is, there haven’t been any charter flights for visitors to Midway in at least five years. I’ve racked my brain trying to figure out ways to visit Midway. President Obama went there during the last months of his administration, so there has to be some way to do it. The US Fish and Wildlife Service administers the island, so whatever I do will have to go through them.

The Great Migration

I haven’t been to Kenya or Tanzania. When I go, I’d like to see the Great Migration. The Great Migration is the annual movement of millions of wildebeests, zebras, and other animals from the Serengeti in Tanzania, to the Masai Mara in Kenya. It is a photographers dream and I’ve seen many of the great photos taken by my fellow photographers from this incredible event.

This is all the big stuff I can think of at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll be adding to this list over time. Where do you think I should travel to in the future?


Great Wall image courtesy of Shannon O’Donnell

12 Replies to “After 11 Years of Traveling Around the World, What’s Left? (Answer: A Lot)”

  1. We are going to Caucasus next April on a tour, covering all WHS in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia except Upper Sevanti in Georgia.

    I have seen 33/54 WHS in China, so if anyone needs any help on planning the routes, feel free to ask.

  2. FYI Guanajuato province is different from Guanajuato city. If you’re looking for a quiet, colorful place to unwind, Guanajuato city is perfect–especially as a break from larger, more impersonal cities.

  3. I just did the Trans-Mongolian railroad this summer – literally one of my favorite adventures I have ever taken (I’m not quite caught up to you but I’ve been to 86 countries and all 7 continents).
    There is just something about traveling on the train, meeting new people and just watching the landscape go by.

  4. Incredible 11 years travelling… Next trip I would recommend the Trans Mongolian route, it is amazing, a real lifetime experience. The scenery is so beautiful and if you are not afraid of the cold I would even recommend doing the journey in winter.
    Good luck!

  5. Have you visited Sri Lanka ? It is so beautiful. Also the district of Ladakh in North india LEH , Ladakh is wildly beautiful. Yes. Peru is a ‘ must see ‘ country. Everything about the country is nice . People , food, good natured people, all nice.
    You have travelled so much Gary. I have travelled relatively little, but I have visited Kenya . Loved it.
    I look fwd to seeing photographs from your next trip

      1. Just back from Sri Lanka. Accidentally was in Kandy for photographer’s dream, Perahera, which sadly you’ll miss. But the other highlight was the Cinnamon Air flight from Kandy to Galle. I did it to save time, but a seaplane (Cessna Caravan), flip flop wearing pilots, and stunning scenery made it the best $176 I’ve spent on airfare in quite a while.

  6. When you go to China if you need assistance where to travel let us know as we lived there for three years and travel throughout the country and although some were touristy others not so much although local Chinese were a plenty. They enjoy the freedom of seeing their country.

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