New Year’s Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

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New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017
New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017
New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

One of our goals for 2017 is to travel to 17 countries, with 10 countries we’ve never traveled to before. Surprisingly – and contrary to our typical last minute planning – we have most of them mapped out already. Most notably, Diana will be traversing into unexplored territories in Southeast Asia, and Hope has successfully secured a summer internship in Berlin, one of our favorite cities in the world. We welcome any additional tips you may have in helping us reach our new year’s resolution of visiting 17 countries in 2017.

1. Ireland

New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

Our first upcoming international trip will be to Ireland in early March. Since Hope is in school until early May, she will be holding down the fort back at home while Diana explores Ireland and the UK (and subsequently Southeast Asia – see below). Ireland has always been at the top of our travel bucket list because of how beautiful the country’s landscape looks and how fun we think it would be to pub hop around Dublin with locals. It seems that every Irish person we’ve met on our travels has been extremely friendly, fun-loving, and easy-going, so we are excited to find our Irish friends in their natural habitat.

We’ll have three days in Ireland: one day in Dublin, and two days road tripping out west to the Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Doolin, etc. We’ll be spending the night in Doolin at the recommendation of a friend, so send any tips our way!

2. Scotland

New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

Unfortunately, Diana will only have one day in Edinburgh (we would love to visit the Scottish highlands someday!), but it is more than enough time for her to be very excited about exploring this new country. Similar to Ireland, we have been in awe at the beautiful landscape of Scotland and have heard nothing but good things about Edinburgh. We actually contemplated going to Edinburgh or Glasgow for a while and ultimately settled on Edinburgh as we were more interested in seeing the smaller, historic town than another large city (as we both live in the city).

A couple of things Diana is very excited about for this trip is her stay in the beautiful apartments of Old Town Chambers and having the opportunity to experience a Scotch Whisky tour, as she is a big fan of whisky.

3. Malaysia

New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

Right after Diana returns from Ireland and the UK, she will be embarking on another, bigger trip to Southeast Asia and China for one month. Her trip will start in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and take her to Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and China, where she will be visiting many of our relatives who live there. Diana will only have about one day in Kuala Lumpur and one day in Penang before moving on to Thailand. While we’ve heard mixed reviews about Kuala Lumpur, we have heard nothing but the highest accolades about Penang. We’re especially excited to explore the Georgetown area of Penang and discover the fun street art we’ve seen in photos.

4. Thailand

New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

Thailand will be one of the highlights of this trip for a few reasons. First, Diana has a few friends living in Bangkok that she is excited to see. One of those friends grew up in Bangkok, so she really knows the city like the back of her hand and will be able to act as a personal tour guide. The second is that Diana will be visiting an elephant sanctuary near Chiang Mai for her birthday on March 21. We both love elephants and feel very strongly toward protecting and preserving elephants. In particular, we hope to spread awareness of the inhumane practices toward elephants in Southeast Asia, which can be seen most prominently in the elephant tourism business. It seems that many tourists visit Thailand in hopes of having the opportunity to ride an elephant, but unfortunately what they don’t know is how much pain elephants must endure to arrive at a point where they will acquiesce to any orders and practices regarding elephant riding. These elephants have been beaten and tortured, even as babies, and completely stripped of their spirit. Another surprising fact is that elephants are not made to carry weight on their backs, despite their large size. In fact, the weight of even one human can hurt an elephant’s back.

Elephant sanctuaries provide a large area covered in natural forestry in which elephants are free to roam and are protected from outside dangers. Visitors can sign up to volunteer at an elephant sanctuary for a day or even overnight. Volunteers’ duties typically include feeding, bathing, and playing with the elephants, but no one is permitted to ride an elephant at any time. We haven’t yet decided on a particular elephant sanctuary yet, so if you have suggestions, throw them our way!

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5. Myanmar

New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

Myanmar is one of the destinations we’re most excited to explore, mainly because it isn’t a popular tourist destination yet. We’ll be flying into Yangon and somehow transporting ourselves to Inle Lake, Bagan, and ending in Mandalay, where we’ll be flying on to Luang Prabang, Laos. We must admit we don’t know very much about Myanmar yet (or Laos/Cambodia), so any tips you have would be great appreciated. We’ll have three days total in Myanmar.

6. Laos

New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

Admittedly, we don’t know much about Laos or Cambodia either, and thus we’re not sure what to expect. We’ll be staying in Luang Prabang for two nights and are pretty stoked to be staying at this beautiful estate on the Mekong River. One would think that, after seeing waterfalls at every turn in Norway, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland, we would have tired of waterfalls by now, but we have every intention to chase more waterfalls in Laos – in particular the Kuang Si Falls.

7. Cambodia

New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

We are a bit nervous to see what the crowds will be like at Angkor Wat, but that won’t stop us from going. Siem Reap seems to be filled with temples, and I’m glad we’ll be getting our fill of temples before moving on to Vietnam.

8. Vietnam

New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

We’ll be spending almost a week in Vietnam and splitting our time between Ho Chih Minh City, Hanoi, and Halong Bay. If we had to pick one thing we’re most excited for in Vietnam, that would be the food. Pho is one of Diana’s favorite foods, and even thinking about the possibility of eating pho for every meal gets her excited. On top of that – to pay only $1 USD or less for a bowl of pho in Vietnam vs the hefty $10/bowl here really makes Vietnam sound too good to be true.

Food aside, we are also very excited to take a boat around the beautiful Halong Bay and take in the sights and smells of HCM.

9. Cuba

New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

Ever since the United States opened up its borders to Cuba last year, Diana has been itching to visit. A trip to Cuba may not sound like a big deal to you if you’re from Canada or elsewhere in the world, but for Americans this is monumental. Today, for an American to travel to Cuba, he or she must fall into one of 12 categories listed and explained on the OFAC website and may not travel there simply for vacation. What this means practically is that American travelers to Cuba may not stay at a beach resort the entire time and lay out on the beach and sip on cocktails by the pool all day, although it is unclear how harshly these requirements are actually enforced.

From everything we’ve heard, Cuba is a country that still appears to exist in the 1960s, with its old cars, old buildings, and traditional ways of life. We will be staying in casas particulares (homestays) and are very excited to meet the local people and take in the local customs there.

10. Slovenia

New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

Slovenia is a country that has recently risen to the top of our bucket list, with the recent trend of “glamping.” Diana has driven through Slovenia before on her way from Serbia to Croatia but hardly gave it a passing thought until we started seeing photos of Slovenia’s beautiful landscape and thus popularity as a “glampsite” among young travelers who are not quite full on backpackers but not 5 star luxury resort stayers either.

We’re hoping to tack this trip onto our trip to Munich for Oktoberfest in September, so we won’t be going for a while but would still love to hear any recommendations you have for places to visit within Slovenia, where to stay, and other must-sees and must-dos.

In addition to the above, we’ll be re-visiting the following countries…

11. Canada

As you may know from reading some of our other posts, our parents live in Toronto, Canada, and Hope lived there from grades 8-12 and calls herself a Torontonian, so Canada is near and dear to our hearts. We typically visit Toronto every couple of months, and I’m sure this year will be no different.

One destination within Canada that has very recently risen to the top of our bucket list is Yellow Knife. Our parents just took a trip there last week  and had a blast dog sledding, living in teepees, and seeing the northern lights. It looks absolutely gorgeous.

12. Iceland

Diana will be re-visiting the land of fire and ice, one of our top obsessions, in early March on her way to Ireland and the UK. We went to Iceland back in November 2015 and were blown away by its natural beauty. There were miles and miles of nothingness – but it was the most beautiful nothingness we had ever seen. This time, we are excited about a couple of things in particular: first, that we will have the opportunity to snorkel Silfra with Scuba Iceland. Silfra is a fissure in Thingvellir where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, and the Silfra fissure is considered one of the best freshwater snorkeling spots in the world. The other thing we’re very excited about for this trip is the opportunity to take a food tour around Reykjavik with Wake Up Reykjavik. This will be a great way for us to revisit some of the most popular sites in Reykjavik as well as taste more of its authentic food. Stay tuned for photos and stories on how cold the water is and how delicious the food is!

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13. France

New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

We’ll be in Paris for just one day on our way to Ireland and the UK in early March. We scored an awesome deal through Icelandair where we got a roundtrip ticket to Paris with a free 2-day stopover in Iceland for only $400 USD. Since we’ve been to Paris a few times already, we wanted to spend the majority of our time exploring Ireland and the UK, so we’ll only be spending one night in Paris. We’re hoping to explore some new neighborhoods and revisit some of our favorite sites, like Canal St. Martin, Jardin de Luxembourg, and weirdly the Pere Lachaise cemetery.

14. England

New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

London is another quick one day stop on our UK/Ireland trip in early March. Similar to Paris, it’s a city we’ve been to several times but look forward to going back as there are still so many little neighborhoods we haven’t had a chance to explore yet. In particular, we’d love to check out Camden Market on this trip. Let us know if there are any other hidden gems in London you’d recommend seeing.

We are also looking forward to staying in a prison cell at a hostel in King’s Cross called Clink78, set in an old courthouse where The Clash once stood trial. How fitting that a couple of lawyers will be spending the night at an old courthouse in a prison cell.

15. Hong Kong

New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

We visited Hong Kong in August 2013 and absolutely loved it. Compared to mainland China, Hong Kong is much less of a cultural shock. There are endless shops, restaurants, people, and lights in Hong Kong, and it is really a fun atmosphere. We’ll be back in Hong Kong for a day on our way from Vietnam to China, and we’re looking forward to eating lots of dim sum and exploring more of the nightlife there.

16. China

New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

Most of our family lives in China, so we’ve been visiting regularly since we were kids. It’s perplexing when people say they like or dislike China based on one trip to a major city because China is huge and has so many different sides to it. It’s hard to believe that the bustling, smog-filled cities of Beijing and Shanghai are part of the same country as the serene rivers of Guilin or the minority-dominated mountains of Kunming. China has also been an interesting place to visit regularly over the last 25 years or so because of how quickly the country is developing and how noticeable these developments are even after only a few years. Since I haven’t been back to China since August 2013, I am really looking forward to seeing how the country has changed in the last four years. We will have almost an entire week in China and will be based in Jiangsu province (near Shanghai) where our family resides, but would love to hear your recommendations for other cities to visit.

17. Germany

New Year's Resolution: 17 Countries in 2017

As mentioned above, Hope has secured a summer internship at a startup company in Berlin and is very excited to gain some real life experience while living in one of the coolest cities in the world. Hope’s internship lasts two months, and she plans to spend the remaining two months of summer vacation traveling. Our plan is for Diana to visit while Hope is living in Berlin, and the two of us will embark on a train trip around northern Germany, exploring cities such as Dresden, Leipzig, Weimar, Frankfurt, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Lubeck, and Rugen. Then in the fall, we plan to return to Germany, but this time to southern Germany, and attend Oktoberfest and explore some nearby countries such as Slovenia.

Do you have an advice for the destinations listed above? What are your travel goals for 2017? Which countries made your 2017 travel list? Let us know in the comments below!

Hi, I'm Diana, the big sister in the sister duo. I left my job as an attorney in March 2017 to pursue the work-from-anywhere/travel-everywhere life aka The Dream. I blog about off the beaten trail travel destinations, adventure travel, immersing in local cultures, and publish plenty of travel guides for all you who are too lazy to plan your own trips. I've traveled to 61 countries to date, and some of my recent adventures include hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro, visiting a child I've sponsored for over 10 years in Rwanda, and exploring the Middle East.

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57 Responses
  1. Looks awesome ladies !
    Are you both visiting all these countries ?
    If I may add one thing, if you go back to france for more than one day, you should consider these cities : Lille (where I lived before travelling), Lyon, Bordeaux, …

    Cheers and Happy travelling

    1. Thanks guys! Most of these are Diana’s travels. Hope will be in school until May and then will be in Europe all summer! She’ll be living in Berlin for a couple of months at least, and then she’ll most likely be traveling for the remaining two months of summer vacation. One thing I miss about being a student is the long summer vacations!

      We would love to visit Lille, Lyon and Bordeaux. Hope has been to Cannes and the surrounding areas and said it was beautiful. We’ll see what we can fit in on our trips. Thanks for the recommendations. 🙂

  2. 17 in ’17. Love this & I’m looking forward to reading what you both get up to!
    My list so far is shorter but includes Tokyo, Capetown, Dalmation Coast, Zanzibar, Cuba, Cyprus, Lebanon, Bali, some Thai Island hopping and I’ll need to fit in a couple of trips to Australia. We may meet on our travels! 🙂

    1. Those are all awesome places that we have on our bucket list, Shona! Especially Cape Town and Tokyo. Can’t wait to read about your travels this year. Maybe I’ll see you in Thailand or Cuba! 🙂

  3. Great list ladies – I’ll also be heading to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Paris and London! Can’t wait. For some London tips check out a couple of my recent posts on great places to eat and free activities. Have fun!

    1. Thanks so much – will definitely take a look at some of your budget tips for London! Maybe our travels will overlap and I’ll see you somewhere around the world this year! 🙂

  4. Wuuhu looks like an awesome plan! Definitely let me know when you are visiting Slovenia, maybe we can meet over Kremšnita (dessert) or something 🙂 About the tips for visitng Slovenia check our blog – it’s a little bit more adventures but still you can find some helpful tips 😉 Best of luck with your 17/2017 plan, can’t wait to read about all your adventures.

  5. Great post! You will both have a brilliant time. I’d suggest visiting York in England, there’s a post on my blog all about it. It’s my favourite English city, with so much history behind it! Edinburgh also has a cool underground city to explore.

    1. Thanks, Natasha! We may not have time for York this time around, but I would love to check out York and the rest of England in the future. I’ve heard about the Edinburgh underground city – hopefully we will have time to check that out. Thanks for the recommendations! 🙂

  6. I have a quick question as I’ve read about your trip to the Virgin Islands. Do you count this as a visit to another country? Or even 2 countries, British and US Virgin Islands. If I visited them I personally would class them as a visit to 2 new countries. Just interested to see what others think.

    1. Hey James! We don’t count the Virgin Islands or other territories as separate countries since they technically belong to the U.S./Britain. We go off of what is recognized by the UN. Maybe we’ll adopt your rule though and count all those as separate countries – that would boost our country count up quite a bit! 🙂

  7. omg!!!! Can I be your triple???? So many of my top destinations in your list! This year I’m thinking also of Scotland, Laos, Cambodia and Slovenia! Can’t wait to see all the posts! This year, for the first time, I don’t have anything planed! O_O

    1. Come with us Midori!! That’s funny because this is the first year we have anything planned! We’re usually pretty last minute trip bookers and never know where we’re going until a month or so beforehand. Hopefully some of our travels will overlap this year!

  8. We were in Hong Kong last August and wrote a post on it if you would like to take a look. In Thailand we visited an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai called Elephant Nature Park. If you make it to that part of the country I highly recommend it! Love the variety of places you are visiting 🙂 Can’t wait to read about your experiences!

    1. I’ve heard awesome things about Elephant Nature Park! I’ll have to message you about that. I’ll check out your post on HK too – last time I was there was with my family so it was a bit of a different experience than going with friends. Thanks for the recommendations!! 🙂

  9. 17 countries in one year sound quite a lot, but one always need to aim high, right? 😉 I’m glad to know you’ll be visiting Vietnam. I’m from Vietnam so if you need any tips feel free to contact me or check out my blog. Yeah and pho in Vietnam is the best!!

  10. You have an epic year ahead! I’m off to Colombia next week and then my boyfriend and I will be visiting Vietnam and Bali in Sept/October. I can’t wait to hear your stories

  11. I’m looking forward to seeing your pics from Silfra in Iceland. I am jealous you are doing to scuba diving there! Don’t miss the sunset over the temples of Bagan! The pictures will be amazing.

    1. Those are a couple of the things I’m most excited for too, James! We’ll actually be snorkeling in Silfra (we’ve never scuba-ed before), but still super excited for that. Can’t wait to share my photos and stories with you. 🙂

  12. What a trip, girls! loads of my favourites in there; I’m from Scotland and you’ll love Edinburgh; I’ve also lived and worked in Canada, Ireland, England and Thailand – been in Cambodia too (doing visa-runs from Thailand); I’d love to go to Iceland, and visit more of the Southeast Asian countries. Best of luck to you both. Take care…

    1. Wow, you’ve been around everywhere! I am super excited for Edinburgh and also Ireland (especially western Ireland). Can’t wait to share about our Iceland and SEA trip with you! 🙂

  13. What a fun resolution! Ambitious too! You have some amazing stops planned. Laos & Malaysia were highlights of mine last years and I’m sure you will love them. Can’t wait to read all your stories from these destinations!

    1. Great to hear that, Kassie! I don’t know much about Laos or Malaysia, so I’m definitely looking forward to exploring those places. Can’t wait to share about all our travels with you. 🙂

  14. What an exciting year you have planned!! We are moving to Thailand this year so hoping to head to Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar but we will see! Would love to visit Dublin and Edinburgh before we head there 🙂

  15. I’m an absolute lover of South East Asia and self-proclaimed “expert” (not really, just travelled and lived in the region for a long time). You’re going to absolutely love it! Kuang Si waterfalls are absolutely magical – my friend described it as “disneyland for adults”. I can give you some tips about Myanmar, if you’d like?

    And gosh, I’ve always wanted to visit Slovenia! Maybe I’ll see you there 😉 Safe travels girls – looking forward to hearing all about it.

    1. Hey Caroline! I would love some tips on Myanmar – I’ll message you! So glad to hear that about Kuang Si falls! And Slovenia’s been on my list for a while now too, so I’m glad I’m finally doing it. Maybe I’ll see you there! 😀

  16. wow it certainly looks like you have a exciting time planned for 2017. You will love Cuba I went last December and has a great time. I am also going to Vietnam this year I cant wait if you go before me (I go in feb) make sure you share lots of wonderful photos to help get me excited lol

    1. Hey Jenni! Sounds like you’re making it to Vietnam before me (I go in early April), so I am looking forward to being inspired by your trip! Great to hear you liked Cuba – I am super stoked to finally have the opportunity to go as an American and am really looking forward to it. Happy travels!

    1. Hey Saania! I really wish I could make it to Bali as well, but due to time constraints I’ll only be making it to the mainland SEA countries this time around. I would love to go back sometime in the future and check out Indonesia and the Philippines! Happy Travels!

  17. Almost all of the countries here are on my bucket list. Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Cuba are a high priority on the list. Nothing booked yet, except Bali in May, so we still have some time to decide which of these ones will be next. It looks like 2017 will be a great year for you!

    1. Hey Simona, Bali will be so much fun! I’m looking forward to visiting those countries and sharing about my travels with you. Hopefully that’ll help you decide which of the countries you listed are priorities and which can wait a while longer! Happy travels!

  18. Wow, what a travel list for 2017! I don’t know where to start commenting, there is so much to say 😀 We are going to be doing SE Asia as well so will be doing pretty much all the same as you! We also feel very passionately about the wellbeing of elephants and since blogging, I have discovered that (thankfully) a lot more people are becoming aware of the horrors and are starting to visit sanctuaries instead, but that doesn’t mean people like you shouldn’t stop with your message – keep up the good work! We were in Hong Kong/China in August 2013 as well – I don’t know if you read any of our China series but we absolutely loved it and we definitely wish to return! The people made the Country so amazing for us, they are so warm and friendly and we want to visit more of rural China like Guilin (yes, it is difficult to believe that places like Beijing and Guilin are in the same Country, but to be fair, it is a huuuuuuge country lol). Your plans for 2017 are super exciting and I look forward to reading about your adventures, especially in the UK where we were born 😀 #feetdotravel

    1. Thanks, Angie! When are you planning on traveling to SEA? Perhaps our travels will overlap and we can meet up! Glad to hear you loved China – I’ll have to take a look at your China series and see where you went. If you do make it back, another place I’d recommend is Xishuangbanna in Yunnan province. It’s right on the border with Myanmar and Laos, and is a mountain town filled with different minority groups. That was a super neat experience for me and again, much different from anywhere else I’ve visited in China. I can’t wait to travel to these places and share about them with you! Looking forward to reading about your travels as well! #feetdotravel

  19. Sounds like a fun and very ambitious itinerary. Look forward to reading all of your posts throughout the year. We are probably going to Ireland too this year, It’s number two on my bucket list time to check it off. Happy and safe travels.

  20. Love the idea. I visited already 7 countries from your list and I am going to Cuba as well. I would like to visit all of them, each has it’s own beauty. Good luck visiting them all, looking forward to reading about it.

  21. Wow guys – you have an incredible 2017 ahead of you and so many amazing countries to visit! Slovenia is beautiful and you must visit Lake Bled. Do shout if you need any help on Thailand!

  22. You’ll have such an incredible time in Ireland! Try and get down to the west coast around Kerry if you can! I used to go there when I was a kid and it was literally paradise. Also, I’m in England if you wanna say hey! 😀

    1. I would love to, Sarah! It’ll all just depend how much time we have. Where in England are you? We’ll just have one day in London, but if you’re there I’d love to say hi!

  23. That’s a full on, but great travel year you guys have planned. I’ve visited all the places on the list apart from Myanmar/Iceland and can vouch that you will have an excellent time. So many places listed here that it’s impossible to talk about them all. Vietnam can be ridiculously cheap, and the food + coffee are spot on. I enjoyed Penang, and there’s plenty to see in Georgetown and beyond. Angkor Wat is busy but a must if you’re in Siem Reap. I’ve also made the glamping trip at Big Berry – Slovenia has the perfect weather for summer time.

  24. Impressive list, I wish I could travel as much as you!! Next time you go to Canada, I’d suggest visiting Banff in the Rocky Mountains or Vancouver on the West Coast, (depending on you you much time to you have to explore more of the country.) 🙂 Wishing you all the best in your upcoming travels!

    1. I’ve been to Vancouver and Banff, and Banff is one of the most beautiful places! I personally think the Canadian rockies are even more gorgeous than the US rockies. One place around there that’s on my list is Jasper – have you been? Wishing you lots of happy travels for 2017 as well. 🙂

  25. I’ve only been to two of the 17 destinations you mentioned. Also on my bicket list ia Malaysia and Cuba. I used to watch the tourism ads for Malaysia “Malaysia truly Asia ” on CNN when I was younger. From then on it has been my future honeymoon destination. In regards to Canada, I have more to explore there. Yellow knife sounds amazing. I particularly enjoyed Banff.

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