30 Countries By 30

I can’t believe that today I turned 30 years old. Holy guacamole! Seriously, where did the time go? I feel like when you’re younger, turning another year older was so exciting, and a year felt like an eternity. Then all of a sudden you get into your 20’s and time flies so incredibly fast that you’d give anything to just have it slow down just for a little bit.


I have mixed emotions about turning 30. For starters, I have always been a person who has LOVED my birthday. If you know me, when I was in college my birthday was a month-long extravaganza. Age never really mattered to me, however, turning 29 last year I was started to begin to get that age anxiety. After all, 29 would be my last year in my 20’s and even though I know 30 isn’t old, it still feels like I blinked and my 20’s were gone.


The struggle of turning 30

I think one of the most challenging things, mentally, when it comes to turning 30 is that image you had in your mind back when you were younger of where you’d be by the time you were 30. I thought I’d likely be some bad ass career lady making six figures, married, had kids (or was close to having kids), lived in a house/place that I owned, and the list goes on.

The weird thing is, even though it’s completely normal to not reach those milestones by 30, especially in 2020, you still in the back of your mind feel like you’re a step behind. Maybe we can blame social media for this. People constantly posting their “happy” relationships, posing in front of a house with a “sold” sign, non-stop images of their babies, declarations of love to their significant other. It’s hard not to compare and feel like you should be at a different point in your life than you’re at.

Turning 30 is a milestone in itself, and even though I’m not at those places I thought I’d be at by 30, I have realized that I don’t need to be in order to be happy. Up until a few months ago I had been single so long I even started a podcast about it, I live in a bachelor/studio apartment that I rent in one of the most expensive cities in the world (hence why I’m not buying anytime soon), but I actually love it and never want to move. I have no kids and I’m not married, but at the same time, I am pretty far ahead in my career because of it. I have incredible family and friends, and I’ve been blessed with the ability and freedom to travel the world, and hit 30 countries by 30!


30 by 30

It’s pretty obvious that everyone has different priorities. For me at this point in my life, and for the last decade, my priority has been travel. And thankfully my lack of having a husband, kids, and a home that costs me an arm and a leg, I’ve been able to keep that as my priority.

I’ve been able to travel to 30 countries (in fact I think it’s technically 32) in the last 30 years. Now I know “country counting” can be frowned upon, and lots of people think it’s considered “bragging” about how privileged I am. However, I’m unsure how me talking about this goal is any different than someone posting a photo of them posing with their “sold” sign and a house, or a diamond ring and their fiance. So I’m going to talk about it whether you like it or not ;)!

Sri Lanka

I have been blessed and privileged with the opportunity to travel to 30 amazing places in my lifetime. In those 30 places I have learned so much about different cultures, ways of life, I’ve seen “bucket list” items, “Wonders of the World”, and been left speechless more times than I can count.


“The world is a book, and those that do not travel only read one page.”

I’ve also been incredibly humbled by the places I’ve visited that aren’t as privileged as we are in North America. I’ve seen families that share a home the size of my bathroom, kids that aren’t given the opportunity to receive proper education, animals that aren’t treated humanely, and the list goes on. These experiences were challenging, they taught me a lot about the world we live in, the issues that many parts of the world still face, and taught me even more about myself too.

The quote: “The world is a book, and those that do not travel only read one page” is one of the truest things I have ever read. We become so caught up in our day-to-day lives and it’s easy to do so because we live in a society that is constantly telling/showing us that we need to get that promotion at work, we need to make as much money as possible, so we can buy houses with more rooms than we need, clothes that we’ll only wear once, to impress the people in our lives (or outside of our lives) on social media.


We complain about going to work every day, having to take public transportation, for being “broke” because we spent our money irresponsibly, for not having what we’re craving in our fridge. When there are people out there living without even the luxury to complain about half of these things.

Travel is so incredibly educational and humbling, whenever I have gone to a destination feeling down, broken hearted, without a career, a little lost, I’ve always come back with a whole new perspective. Feeling refreshed with the life I’m so happy to live.


30 countries, but more than 30 lessons

In my 30 years on this earth, and 30 countries I’ve traveled to, I’ve learned so many things about myself and this beautiful planet we call home. Although the lessons don’t stop at 30, this post would go on forever if I didn’t stop there. So here are some of those things that were some of my biggest learning’s and ah-ha moments.

  1. That I’m lucky to be able to have the choice in who I love, date, and marry
  2. Education should never be taken for granted
  3. Knowing how to speak/write/read English is one of my most valuable assets
  4. Having a passport as powerful as a Canadian passport makes me one of the luckiest people on earth
  5. How much I appreciate and love being Canadian and living in this country
  6. Despite our law makers not always being perfect, we’re still lucky to have them
  7. Having the rights I do as a female is not something to take for granted
  8. That food is such a privilege
  9. Eat EVERYTHING local & try those things you’d never normally try because otherwise, you’re missing out
  10. Experiences will always be more valuable than material objects
  11. Don’t wait! Travel as much as you can, and as far as you can, while you’re young and able
  12. It’s okay to get lost
  13. ALWAYS have an open mind
  14. Going outside of your comfort zone can be one of the most rewarding things in life
  15. Solo travel will teach you more about yourself in one trip than anything else
  16. The world is not as scary as the media portrays it to be
  17. We all are not so different, we just are given different circumstances
  18. There are no material things that you could possibly ever need that won’t fit into a backpack
  19. People back home may never understand your compulsive obsession with travel and the destinations you choose to travel to
  20. The greatest things can happen when you don’t have a plan
  21. You can’t have control over everything
  22. Most of the world does NOT live the same way that you do, but that doesn’t make them wrong
  23. At some point, you just need to trust
  24. Travel is nothing like what the Instagram influencers make it look like
  25. Patience is a virtue
  26. Communication happens in more ways than just through words
  27. You’ll learn more about someone when you travel with someone than anything else
  28. The world isn’t as big as it sometimes feels
  29. We take hot water and clean drinking water for granted
  30. Your vacation days can go further than you ever thought
The Philippines

Reminder: We all have different timelines & priorities

One of the things I constantly remind myself of is that everyone has a different timeline. Things happen when they are supposed to happen for people. I have friends that tell me they’re so jealous of my life, when really, I’m so jealous of theirs. You always want what you can’t have, but going into 30, I just want to embrace what I do have, and remember that everyone’s priorities are different. For me, one of my biggest priorities has been travel, and there’s nothing wrong with my narrative being different than the person next to me. So for my 30’s (and beyond) I want to just embrace life more. Stop comparing. Live in the moment. Be happy with what I have. And of course, travel more.

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  • Reply
    Penny Fournel
    February 11, 2020 at 8:35 am

    Happy Birthday Lauren, beautifully written and so glad that your are living life to the fullest. Travel is also my passion and my greatest gift to myself. The best education there ever was.. 🙂

    • Reply
      February 20, 2020 at 3:11 pm

      Thank you <3

  • Reply
    Josee Dumoulin
    February 21, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    Reading your story reminds me so much of myself. I’m in my 30s, single and have no kids and I’m doing just great . I’ve learned that everyone’s path in life is different. We must do what makes us happy. For me traveling and seeing the way people live and how they appreciate the little things in life is the greatest gift we can all learn from. The world has become filled with expectations that are unrealistic and sometimes unattainable. I say live in the moment. 😉🇨🇦😉

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