From September, 2016 to September, 2017, I spent a crazy but amazing year traveling to 43 countries across six continents around the globe.
And, if you can believe it, I originally planned to take the entire trip without a proper camera!
Thankfully, my uncle convinced me to buy one the day before I left. I’m glad he did, because I was able to capture some incredible stuff along the way.
Now that the trip is over, I put together this collection with my favorite photo from each of the 43 countries I visited. Flip through them and let me know what you think in the comments at the end of this post!
Oh, and if you want to see more like this, be sure to follow me on Instagram or Facebook. Also, be sure to check out my post on 43 life-changing things I learned traveling the world!
I actually started my voyage with a week in Mexico with a couple friends, but I also ended the year in Mexico (so that photo is last on this list).
Anyway, I got trapped in Mexico a few days longer than expected due to Hurricane Matthew messing with my connecting flight. I was unexpectedly routed through New York on my way to Oslo, where I took advantage of a 10 hour layover and some gorgeous weather to walk from Central Park to Brooklyn. Pro tip: if you ever have a long layover, get out of the airport!
With all the flight delays, I only had a day and change in Oslo before I had to catch a pre-booked flight to Prague. That was just enough time to meet some friendly Norwegians keen on showing me about the town.
I probably need to give Prague another chance because, truth be told, I didn’t love my time there. Maybe that’s just because the weather was horrific. Or maybe it’s because I fell ill.
Or maybe it’s just because Prague is actually overrated?
Belgium is another country that I actually went to twice on the trip, I was kinda all over the place during those early months. I felt like a kid in a candy store, and just wanted to see as much of the world as possible. But then later in the trip I’d return to some places that I felt I didn’t give a full look the first time around.
I need to get back to Belgium, though, to check out all the awesome things to do in Ghent and Antwerp!
I went to Morocco to attend a wedding – for a couple I’d never even met!
It turned out to be a traditional all-day, all-night affair involving a LOT of dancing. It was definitely one of the more interesting cultural experiences I had on the trip.
I also snapped this photo on the seawall in Rabat. I spent a lot of time in that first month trying to teach myself how to take interesting photos, and this is probably the first one that I was genuinely proud of. There is something about the pensive mood of the biker that really resonates with me.
I took a lot of photos in Spain. In fact, I would later write a whole post about my favorite photography spots in Madrid.
But my favorite pic from my time there is from this ancient Roman aqueduct in Segovia.
Next up was Amsterdam, where a good law school friend of mine was throwing a Halloween bash and wanted another American to help teach the Dutch how to celebrate. Somewhere out there are a few photos of me dressed up as Robin Hood, but I’ll save those for another day.
Krakow, Poland comes alive this time of year. This building was built over many time periods, which is why it kind of looks like a Frankenstein of a building in terms of style! . #poland #krakow #travel #travelersnotebook #travelogue #travelnow #travelbug #travelogue #visitpoland #colors #building #fall #travelblog #wanderlust #europe
After a bit of time in Berlin (the Germany photo comes later), I joined a friend for a stint in Krakow. It’s really a gorgeous town with a ton of history.
As much as I loved Romania, my week there will forever be colored by the fact that it was where I woke up to the news that Donald Trump had been elected by my President, which rather soured my mood for the whole week.
The country is gorgeous, though, and I definitely need to get back.
A couple day stopover in London was all that I had the time and budget for, so I definitely want to find a way to explore the rest of the U.K. in the future.
By now you are probably thinking: “Belize? What kind of round-the-world itinerary is this? You’re all over the place!”
And, yep, in those early months I was. Why?
Well, mostly because I was still getting comfortable with the concept of solo travel and so was going way out of my way to visit places where I had friends, or where I could convince someone to travel with me. That would soon change though, as I learned to love traveling alone in South America.
Peru is just lovely. If you ever get the chance, you should definitely go.
And not just to Machu Picchu, which I very nearly skipped (my inner travel lemming won out over my inner hipster in the end). Peru is one of those countries that has a ton diversity – from cities to beaches to mountains to jungles. There is something for everyone to love in Peru.
There was one thing I really wanted to do on my trip above all else: take a tour of Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni. I almost didn’t get to, as first I got trapped in the desert of Bolivia by a blockade of protesters (you can read that full story here).
But ultimately I made it, and the journey through the Salar de Uyuni was every bit as impressive as I imagined. The photos were great too: here’s 19 more of my favorite photos from the Bolivian Salt Flats.
Though my favorite part of Chile was celebrating New Year’s Eve in Valparaiso, on the photo front you can’t beat the stunning Atacama desert – the driest place on the entire planet!
I had to get a visa for Brazil in Buenos Aires, which meant surrendering my passport. So I spent a couple weeks just relaxing and taking in the city.
I also apparently totally forgot about my camera, as this selfie with an Argentinean friend is the only photo I snapped the whole time!
Uruguay is gorgeous and a massively underrated gem. I only had a handful of days here thanks to the delay in getting my Brazilian visa, but it’s on the list for a return visit.
I remember two things about the five days I spent in Rio:
The city was incredibly gorgeous.
And it was blazing hot!
With temperatures near 45 degrees C (113 F) most days, and 100 percent relative humidity, it took about 3 seconds after each shower to promptly get re-covered in sweat.
I have a ton of amazing photos from my safari in the Masai Mara, but for some reason my favorite shot is this one from Diani Beach. Though it looks like a nice authentic candid shot, if you look closely you’ll notice that in fact these camels are being paraded about to advertise “Ali Baba’s Restaurant.”
A few weeks before I arrived in Cairo, there was a terrorist attack at an entrance to the Great Pyramids. I almost cancelled my trip (as a lot of tourists did), but I’m glad I didn’t as Egypt was breathtaking.
Egypt to Australia? Kinda cliche, I know.
But, after a long flight to Sydney, I spent nearly a month exploring the Land Down Under. The highlight was definitely my campervan road trip trip through Tasmania that I took on a whim after meeting a Dutch guy in a hostel elevator.
People told me that Singapore is overpriced. But, while it’s certainly more expensive than other destinations in South East Asia, I actually felt like it can be visited as a really great budget destination. There’s so much to see for free (heck, just walking around in the city is a treat), and the hawker street food is both affordable and delicious.
On a prior trip I’d done the classic trip to Angkor Wat, so this time I decided to explore Kampot, Sihanoukville, and Koh Rong Samloem. It made for a relaxing break after a few weeks of frantic travel.
I only really made it to Kuala Lumpur, so I need to get back to Malaysia to see the rest of the country. All I can say is that the food is incredible (and I’m not a big foodie)!
When I set out to travel the world, I had no real plans for employment — or even where to live — after the trip. For the first few months, I kept those thoughts far out of my mind and just focused on taking in everything.
After nearly six months on the road, Bali was the part of the trip where I started to contemplate what would come next in my life. So, while I didn’t take many photos, the island still left an impression on me.
Oh, PS, I wrote this little guide to choosing between Bali vs Thailand, which seems to be a common question I get from readers!
(note that Myanmar is currently going through a humanitarian crisis and some have decided to boycott travel to Myanmar until the situation improves)
Thailand is popular for a reason. From some of the best beaches in the world, to endless gorgeous temples, to a vibrant and welcoming culture, Thailand has it all. My time traveling (mostly) alone in Thailand was incredible.
I’ll be back.
I only had a week in Nepal with a friend, but that was just enough time to go on a miniature trek and to take in the gorgeous lake town of Pokhara.
I basically remember two things about India: first, it’s where I decided to start up this blog.
Second, I remember getting sick three times in as many weeks there.
Kyrgyzstan is seriously cool and if it’s not on your list, it should be. It has incredible culture, stunning scenery, and some of the best hiking in the world. Plus, it’s quite affordable and visa free for many nationalities.
By this point, I was started to get exhausted by the rapid pace of my trip, so I settled in Almaty for two weeks. Almaty is a way cooler city than you probably think. It has amazing restaurants, tons of cool cafes, and vibrant nightlife. So get that “Borat” stereotype of Kazakhstan out of your head, and consider putting it on your travel list.
Travel the world for a year and you get the same questions a lot. The most common is: “What’s your favorite country?”
I used to hate that question.
Then I went to Georgia.
There are so many incredible places to visit in Georgia, and so many incredible things to do in Georgia, that I can’t possibly describe them all in this space. Just check out those posts, or my Georgia Travel Guide, and you’ll see why I love this country so much.
Despite what you may think, Ukraine is safe for travel. And it’s a beautiful country.
The highlight of my two visits there was probably taking a tour of Chernobyl. It was a haunting and sobering experience.
The Greek islands are an incredible vacation destination. But, at least in my opinion, I suggest skipping Santorini and heading for the less touristed islands.
I only had a couple of days to explore Vienna, and it rained most of my visit, so this was about the only usable photo on my SD card.
I totally forget the history of this piece of artwork, but it fascinates me for some reason.
Sofia is a beautiful city, and it’s on my list of the best destinations in Europe. Visit it now before the secret gets out.
The coolest thing I did in Serbia was taking a tour of Belgrade’s street art with a company run by street artists. I loved this one in particular because of the incredible colors.
Sure, the photo is a little cliche, but the outdoor thermal baths in Budapest are gorgeous, right?
As much as I loved Budapest, at this point in the trip I started to feel a little tired of traveling for the first time. Booking a return flight home was a moment I had been dreading for months, but when I finally did it, it came as a bit of a relief.
Luxembourg feels likes something out of a fairy tale. It was also very hard on my wallet (go elsewhere if looking to travel Europe cheaply), which is why I only spend a day there!
I was prepared to hate Paris. It just seems like such a classic “lemming” destination right?
Well, it turns out Paris is popular for a reason. Despite being one of the top tourist destinations on the planet, the city is so big that you can easily get away from the crowds. My five days here were a very pleasant surprise.
I just missed Oktoberfest, so I guess I’ll have to come back right?
The penultimate stop on my year long trip around the world was a visit to an American friend who had recently moved to Zurich.
This was where it finally hit me that the trip was coming to an end soon, which gave me a lot to think about on the long flight to Mexico….
I ended my trip around the world in the same place it began (and with the same friend who joined me on my first jaunt to Mexico).
A lot of feelings went through my head when I was boarding that final flight back to the United States, but there was one that dominated all the rest:
I’m not done traveling. Not now. Not ever.
I hope you enjoyed this photographic tour of my journey around the world! If you want to stay up to date with my travels, I’d love for you to join the Travel Lemming community by subscribing to my newsletter here:
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Nate Hake has traveled to 65+ countries across six continents around the world and blogs about his travels at TravelLemming.com. He is from Denver, Colorado, and recently concluded a six month stint living in Mexico.