My top 5 countries (to date)

Coming out of 2021, I had been lucky enough to travel to 55 countries and was obsessed with planning my next adventure.

I’m driven to learn about the history and culture that makes this world so rich and diverse. I also always aim to be a responsible traveler and lessen my carbon footprint whenever possible.

The memories come flooding back from countless trips, some of which were spontaneous weekend getaways or unplanned adventures, while cruising frequently allowed me to explore regions otherwise unfathomable for a young professional. Every destination is a learning opportunity but a few gems have touched the deepest parts of my soul.

This short list of my favorite travel experiences below highlight an amazing journey on this marvel of a planet we call Earth:

#5 Iceland 🇮🇸 – I could never forget this majestic island and it’s purity. Adventures await every traveler, including snowmobile treks, northern lights sightings, partially frozen waterfalls galore, fascinating geysers, snowy treks to hidden natural hot springs, spelunking in the numerous underground lava tubes….. not to mention the mouthwatering fresh seafood! And the grand finale being the majestic Blue Lagoon that has to be experienced in person to truly get lost in its beauty and serenity (including one of my top 5 sunrises of all time).

#4 Costa Rica 🇨🇷 – I rarely return to any destination due to my ridiculously long bucket list, but this gem has so much to offer. The remote hiking (and numerous waterfalls to explore), white water rafting, biking down a volcano and gorgeous black beaches can suck any tourist into its lure. My second trip was a completely different experience, as we got lost for 5 days in the nature preserves’ maze of coastal waterways, kayaking, jungle hikes and turtle conservatory.

#3 Peru 🇵🇪 – Machu Picchu is so iconic, it’s hard to put the experience into words. The weeklong trek is challenging but doable and extra special to me being my first true out of country adventure (with my little brother). The ancient ruins are plentiful along the way and you can’t beat the local delicacies. From the high town of Cusco to the historic sights in Lima to the touristy hot springs of Aguas Calientes, it is an adventure I recommend anyone do once in their lifetime.

#2 Greece 🇬🇷 – Post pandemic, our group was the first to return to the beautiful island of Crete for a coastal hiking adventure. From quaint beachside bungalows, to swimming in the salty Mediterranean Sea, to traversing stunning gorges, to the exquisite cuisines, I didn’t want this portion of my trip to end. After adding in a spontaneous 2.5 days in dreamy Santorini via ferry and a scheduled 15 hour layover in Athens to see my longstanding bucket list location at the Acropolis, my heart was singing!

#1 Jordan 🇯🇴 – I was pleasantly surprised with this Middle Eastern country that had it all and tops my short list. I truly had no expectations and booked this group trip fairly last minute when I couldn’t find anything else that excited me. Like everyone else, after watching Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade, I yearned to experience Petra. From trekking rugged mountainous areas, to exploring ancient ruins, to floating in the Dead Sea, to driving in a 4×4 alongside wild camels in the desert, to trying different local cuisines, every day was so different. My favorite experience was the vast site of Petra (49K+ steps in one day), but our overnight stay in the Wadi Rum desert was a close second (including another over the top sunset). And it must be said, I can debunk any reports that it is unsafe, as this young, single, blond female never felt threatened even after staying a few days extra walking all the city’s famous sites solo.

***Bonus #6 – how could I leave out Indonesia 🇮🇩 and specifically the paradise found on the island of Bali. Even though I don’t remember my first few days in this wonderland, as I was recovering from a successful trek to Everest Base Camp but nasty 9 day bout of food poisoning, I stayed in 3 different areas of the island, all with their own treasures. My first bungalow was a block from the black beach and I had the best 2 hour massage of my life (and for the bargain price of $8). A treehouse in the hotspot of Ubud was my launching point for visiting amazing temples. Then the grand finale took me to the picturesque island of Nusa Penida with a moped to explore. My cliff side beach shack delighted with breakfast daily overlooking sunrise & 2 crazy hikes to the most memorable beaches I’ve ever seen (Diamond & Kelingking). I can’t wait to go back!

So, here’s to more…..





Published by elliottcm

Love adventure travel, work hard & play hard, happy in both extremes - relaxing on a remote beach or rappelling down cliffs, take joy in simple things, love being on & near the water, visited 55 countries & 47 states so far in this crazy beautiful life! Goals by my 50th birthday - 50 states. 75 countries. 50 national parks. Be in Antarctica on my big day.

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