All The Countries I’ve Visited So Far

I suppose you could say circumstances have a lot to do with a person’s thoughts on travel.  Growing up I was lucky that my parents liked to try to go on holiday every year. I was also lucky that they didn’t decide to leave me at home with the dog.

My parents were along way from wealthy but they grafted hard and scrimped and saved their money so that we could have a week away once per year. Being born in the early eighties flights were becoming a lot more affordable, that being said my first every holiday was a coach trip to Spain which would have been roughly 1000 miles in each direction, I’m glad I can’t remember that one.

Things have changed a lot since then, I now travel for work including flying business class on all long haul flights. It’s nice getting paid to travel although I have only been doing it for two years so the novelty may wear off eventually. The time I spend in a country for work varies from a few hours to a few weeks. If I’m there for at least one night I try to explore as much as possible but sometimes you just wanna hit the hay. Below is a run down on the countries I’ve visited and any cost saving or bargains that can be had whilst there.

Countries I’ve Visited

For anybody interested here is a map of all the countries I’ve visited.

England

Yeah I know this is cheating but I spend so much of my time driving around this country that I had to include it. My friend always asks if I visited every city in England and after a quick look to find out how many there are, it turns out yes I have. 

Scotland

It seems like it’s almost always raining or windy or both. The food isn’t always great but the scenery is stunning. Cheaper than England in general but it’s still Western Europe so not super cheap.

Northern Ireland

A difficult country to understand due to the troubles over the past years. Even though it has settled down there are still significant divisions of the people as you drive around the towns and cities.

Republic of Ireland

Friendly people, the roads when driving around the country generally seem quite quiet. Some of the towns have quite an american feel. Being part of the European single currency can mean some things are expensive. 

France

I’ve been to France twice this year, once for 5 hours for work, and once for a week to Watch England play in the European Championships. Before that I haven’t been to France for around 20 years, I won’t be leaving it that long again.

Countries I've Visited

View from the villa.

We rented a villa in France which cost £120 each for the week for 7 of us, the house could have slept up to 10. The price was worth it for the views alone. If you are into wines then France is the place to go, we found wines available for less than £2 per bottle which were comparable (if not better) with £10 a bottle wine at home. I don’t drink enough wine at home to make a trip over to France cost-effective just to pick some up however.

Spain

Work: 

Spent a night in Girona in Catalonia, a hugely historical city in the far north of Spain close to the French border. Had some great food including Iberican Ham, the place overall is not cheap due to being a tourist destination.

Pleasure:

Like a lot of Brits I’ve been to Spain multiple times. In the eighties and early nineties it was the number one destination for sun seekers and party animals. I’ve been to the Islands of Mallorca, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Ibiza as well as the mainland resort of Lloret de Mar. One of the best weeks of my life was spent in Ibiza (before frugality took hold). I would refuse to pay the sky-high prices now.

Germany

Business:

I usually spend a few days a year in Germany, mostly in the smaller towns. Hotels and food there can be cheap especially when compared to the other more obvious tourist destinations.

Pleasure: 

We travelled to Berlin to watch a basketball preseason friendly game between the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs and the Berlin team. It wasn’t overly cheap but I did get to see Tim Duncan play in the flesh so it was definitely worth it. Also the climax of the game was unbelievable with the German team winning in the last second.

Turkey

Business: 

Visited the Turkish capital around 2 weeks after the Istanbul airport bombings and left the day before the attempted Coup d’etat. I Stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel which was a long way from cheap.I had dinner in the hotel, paid for by the business contact I was meeting. If I was on my own I’d have been out in the streets looking for a proper Turkish kebab. Cigarettes are extremely cheap if you are a smoker.

Pleasure

Visited with the parents as a teenager, I remember markets being full of knock off clothing brands at extremely cheap prices.

Belgium

Business:

Very brief visit early this year, Antwerp airport is small and at the time was heavily guarded following the recent terrorist attacks,

Pleasure: 

Visited Antwerp and Brussels, Antwerp was fantastic with great beers, friendly people and nice architecture. I really disliked Brussels and will never return there through choice. I’m not sure what it was specifically that made me dislike it but there was a certain ambience around the city that didn’t sit well with me.

Netherlands

Business:

Multiple flights into Schipol Airport for business in and around Amsterdam. Transport links are very good especially the trains.

Pleasure:

I’ve probably been to the Netherlands in excess of 10 times over the past 15 years, I’ve been camping on the isle of Texel which I would highly recommend, I’ve been on numerous stag do’s in and around Amsterdam and I’ve visited Rotterdam as part of a boat tour. All I can say about Holland is the people are almost without exception very friendly and I have never had a bad time whilst there.

Cyprus

Business:

I was only there for around 36 hours. The food was good, the people were friendly, and Larnaca airport was a joy to fly from.


Slovakia

Business:

Bratislava is not the stag do haven it used to be and that’s probably for the best. A beautiful city with very cheap accommodation available.

Countries I've Visited

Loft Hotel, Bratislava

Myself and a work colleague had time to explore a Christmas market and sampled a few alcoholic beverages. I would definitely recommend.

Czech Republic

Pleasure:

Prague, one of my favourite cities. Home to some of the worlds best beers, beautiful castles, cathedrals, clock towers and bridges. Heavily frequented by tourists in the main squares. I try to avoid by visiting the other areas which offer better value and more authenticity.

Poland

Pleasure:

Generally good value, the drinks (especially vodka) were cheap and the food was hearty. Lots of restaurants and bars within the old basements in Krakow’s town squares which makes for an interesting experience in itself.

Switzerland

Business: 

Stopped here on the way back from Brazil, I didn’t get to see anything so I will go back one day explore the countryside.

Austria

Business:

Used Vienna airport as an easy gateway into Slovakia.  

Dubai

Business: 

Made it as far as the airport, spending most of my time there in the lounge, cigarettes are particularly cheap in the duty free shop.   

Vietnam

Business:

Ho Chi Minh city is one crazy place and actually once you get out into the country side it may even get crazier. Families of 4 and 5 sharing 1 motor scooter is not an unusual sight. Cheap accommodation and cheap food can be had as long as you avoid western fast food restaurants.

China

Business: 

I spent two weeks in and around two of the biggest cities Dalian and Qingdao. 

Countries I've Visited

Intercontinental Hotel, Qingdao

There is a huge lifestyle variance between the haves and the have-nots, especially those living in the cities and those in the surrounding countryside.
Branded goods are extremely expensive which is one of the reasons Alibaba and Ali-express are so successful.

Whilst in China I tried a lot of foods I may not have usually partaken in, often the places we ate resembled an aquarium more than a restaurant.  

USA

Pleasure: 

I’ve been to Orlando, Miami, Key West, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas and New York. There is such a vast array of experiences to be had that you can (almost) see why so many Americans don’t get a passport. Chicago is my favourite city in the world so that’s the number one recommendation, following that in close second is San Francisco. Of all the places on the list I would say New York is the most over praised and I’m in no hurry to return.

Brazil

Business:

I always fly in to Sao Paulo which never ceases to shock with the pure scale of the city. I’ve visited some smaller towns such as Florianopolis, Lages, Cascavel, Toledo and Chapecó.  If you like football (soccer) you’ll never be short of things to talk about with the locals.

Mexico

Pleasure:

I took a trip over the border from San Diego to Tijuana. The place is pretty crazy, very tourist centric but still with a slightly ominous vibe.

The Future

My current must do list includes; Japan, Hong Kong, Costa Rica, Cuba and some snow boarding (as yet undetermined).

Whats the best country you’ve every visited and where’s super cheap for us Frugals out here. Let me know in the comments below.

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