Hooray for Hungary, my 30th country.

If you’ve been keeping up with my travels on Twitter and Instagram recently, you’ll know I’ve made it to Hungary, my 30th country. I’m currently sat at the Budapest Terrace bar, working my way through a celebratory bottle of Boszorkány white wine, watching the sun go down over this beautiful city.

I’m not sure if my fellow terrace drinkers can tell by the expression on my face, but I’m sat here feeling slightly smug and immensely proud. I’m not smug because the wine only costs £13 for the whole bottle (with views this spectacular, I’d easily expect to pay £25/bottle in London). Or smug because I’ve reached a whopping 1,700 followers on my Instagram account over the last few weeks – though obviously I’m elated by that.

It’s because this trip is a special one for me: Hungary is the 30th country I’ve visited, signifying the end of my “30 before 30” challenge. I’ve been to 30 different countries around the world, and I’ve managed to visit them all before reaching my third decade on this planet.

The bottle of wine isn’t the only thing I’ve treated myself to though: I have used the majority of my Avios points to pay for my 4 star hotel in Budapest. And last night I pushed the boat out and munched my way through a packet of Haribo gummie bears from the mini bar in my hotel room (though not before checking the price using my trusty XE currency conversion app – they were only £1.66, so not too much of a splurge). Having previously worked for MoneySavingExpert.com, this is something I’d never normally do, and the money-saver in me did say “no way, put them back this instant”, but my heart said “fuck it, you’ve earned this”. 

Because I made it. And I made it a whole 13 days before my 30th birthday, too. I’ve managed to complete my self-set challenge to visit a whopping 30 countries before I turn 30, despite everything that’s happened in recent months and my sudden return to Reading.

How does it feel to complete my mission? 

Well, as I walked through Budapest airport at 8am yesterday morning, I won’t lie, I felt a little downbeat. There was no fanfare, there were no banners or balloons and/or confetti coming down from the ceiling to congratulate me on reaching this massive travel milestone. Not that I expected any of those things, but I think I expected to feel them metaphorically, inside. 

Instead I just felt extremely tired, annoyed and worried that I’d get a bad rating for my first experience with Airbnb (which is another story for another post). It was raining, I was wearing shorts and a vest, so feeling very inadequately dressed – and I really couldn’t be arsed with carrying my heavy hand luggage across the city, negotiating a bus, a train, a tram and then another bus from the airport. Travel was cheap though – the equivalent of just £4 for a whole 24 hours of public transport. 

It was 10am when I arrived at my hotel, and though the check-in wasn’t until 3pm, the receptionist Jonathon took pity on me and let me have the room early for free (I can only imagine how bad I looked, as I’d avoided mirrors at all costs after about 3am). But after a few hours sleep on one of the comfiest beds I’ve ever slept on, I woke up feeling much more positive. If I get a bad Airbnb review, so what? It’s not the end of the world. I’ve made it to 30 countries. 

Over the last 30 years I’ve travelled around the planet, ticking off countries from my bucket list (and those that weren’t), seeing some incredible sights, making some fabulous friends and experiencing things that some people could only only ever dream of.

Last night I took some time out from exploring. Instead of rushing straight out into a new city, I took some time to relax and rest, reflecting on everything that’s happened and all the places I’ve been since starting my challenge back in January 2016. 

Feeling nostalgic, I flicked through my Instagram feed looking at pictures from my recent travels to Jordan, Mexico and Cyprus, and then further back to my first solo travel escapade to Oslo in Norway, then Colombia where I fell in love with Cartagena, and Puerto Rico where I let all inhibitions go and just ziplined my way into the Guinness Book of Records

I was suddenly overcome with a huge feeling of privilege. How many people can say they’ve been to 30 countries before they’re 30 years old? Well, according to research by Hostelworld.com, the average UK adult has travelled to just 10 countries, with the majority of these being European countries. But I’ve tripled that, and am only really an adult on paper (my friends will definitely agree that I act much younger than my 30 years). 

So what’s next, now I’ve completed my challenge? 

I’m really not sure. I have a trip booked to Iceland in December – so I’ll be ticking that off my bucket list. But for now, I’m happy to just relax, go with the flow and see where my travels take me. After all, some of the best trips I’ve had have been those that are unplanned…

104 thoughts on “Hooray for Hungary, my 30th country.

    1. Yeah, I’m glad that I managed all 30 – but I did feel a little underwhelmed when I reached Hungary 😦 those feelings soon faded when I began exploring the city though! It’s such a beautiful place x

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  1. Happy birthday! Budapest is a wonderful city to spend your birthday in! I have turned 30 a week ago as well but I have completed my 30 before 30 countries list long time ago, and I didn’t even noticed 🙂

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  2. Congrats on reaching your 30 countries, I actually need to add up everywhere I’ve been and see how many I’ve been to. Budapest is one of my favourite cities so I am so glad you got to experience it x

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  3. Woo woooo! 30 countries is an amazing achievement, and you are so lucky to have been able to do it! Maybe your next challenge can be 60 before 60? (And take me with you.)

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  4. Congrats for making it to 30 countries. I went to.hungry for 24 hours a few years ago and have always wanted to go back. We went in November and all I remember is the cold and the stunning views from the statue of liberty x

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  5. A huge congratulations love, I turn 30 next week and for the 30th country on my birthday I will be off to dubai to celebrate in style. I am glad to have done this challenge and though technically I have been to 35 countries I removed a couple as I didnt experience anything in some of them.

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    1. I’m actually 30 this coming Saturday, and will be spending it with my besties in Bournemouth for a night of drunken debauchery 😛 but a massive yay to us for managing to complete our 30 before 30s x

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  6. I have absolutely loved reading about your travels! And Budapest is a perfect one to end on, I visited last Sept and found it to be a beautiful and amazing place. Congratulations for reaching your milestone…. why not extend it further and do 40 before 40?? 😀

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    1. Awww, thank you for the support Tanya 🙂 as you know, it’s not been easy the last few months, but I’m so glad I made it 🙂 I think 40 before 40 would be too easy though – that’s only a new country every year… I want a more difficult challenge 😛 x

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  7. Wow what a great achievement. I’m sorry you didn’t feel the fan fare at first but that you finally got the feeling of accomplishment. I’m so jealous, and feel like I need to give myself a challenge before my 30th as I have 14 months till that milestone. And happy birthday for the day itself

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    1. Thanks so much Tanya – my actual birthday is this coming Saturday, so I’m pleased that I managed to finish my challenge ahead of time. The fanfare feeling didn’t come straight away, which I was a bit surprised by – but by the end of my trip to Hungary, I was feeling massively elated 🙂 x

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    1. Portugal was probably my least favourite, but then it was a family holiday when I was 15 and we didn’t explore much. My most favourite is hard, as I liked so many of them for lots of reasons. Colombia is amazing, and I’d love to go back. Similarly, Mexico – I feel like there’s still so much tp see in both countries. Jordan and Morocco are mesmerising places, so different to others I’ve been to… It’s so hard to chose just one! x

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    1. Thanks so much Justine! I’m so proud of myself for smashing my target 🙂 16 is still a great number – that’s double what most people see in a lifetime.

      And yep, super excited for Iceland, though it’s not until December. I haven’t even begun to make plans for it yet, other than book the flights and hostel 😛 any recommendations? x

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  8. Well done Becca for completing your challenge, it always feels good to achieve a big goal! I also totally agree that some of the best trips are the ones that are unplanned. Happy travels 🙂

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  9. 30 before 30? That’s amazing! I doubt most adults in the US could match the 10 countries most adults in the UK have visited. That must be a benefit to living in the UK. I’ve been to 6, and I think I’m one of the lucky few in my area. Many of my friends have never left the US. That’s cool that you’ve been able to travel so much!

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  10. 30 countries! I love to travel, and need to set a similar goal for myself. Maybe I can hit 40 by 40. Can’t wait to see where you end up next!

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    1. Not on a Euro tour, no – have never really “toured” anywhere except a week doing the Golden Triangle in India. Hungary was my 30th country in my challenge to visit 30 countries before I turned 30…

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