Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Weaving Together My Life Story In A Series Of Blogs

The blog has always been a great platform for storytelling. Over time, I have shared many things about my history, my present, and goals for the future - they are:

My Life Story - Have you ever thought about the impact of big decisions that you made in your life? How about the small ones or the ones made for you? How would have your life turned out if things went the other way?

My Love Story - Michelle and met on October 15, 2010 in a serendipitous way. We were both part of a charity in Raleigh, NC and one night at a dinner struck up a conversation about many things - including our love of travel.

My Housing Story - After 13 moves and stops in three Canadian Provinces and three U.S. States, here is my journey in pictures from the Northwest to the Southeast of North America.

My Car Story - I have the dubious honor of getting speeding tickets on all 6 driveable continents - lucky that there are no cars in Antarctica! Did I ever tell you the time I passed the Polizia in Italy with my mom?

My Travel Story - The story started with a "Rollerblades and Red Bull" journey to 100 countries. It is now expanding in every direction after hitting 7 continents and the 7 wonders of the world (most with kids in tow).

My Nautical Story - I am pretty sure the love of water started in 1972 when I was six weeks old and my grandparents Bob and Dona McBain retired to Shuswap, British Columbia, Canada, and built a log cabin.

My Crazy MBA Story - In the summer of 2017, while climbing Machu Picchu, Peru as part of my wife Michelle’s International MBA from Manhattan College, I thought – why not me?

My Hockey Story - As long as I can remember, I have been playing hockey. Over four and a half decades and thousands of games later, I still lace them up a couple times a week, year-round.

My Cycling Story - When the Covid-19 pandemic first took hold in March 2020 we responded quickly as a family - including strict stay at home orders and no outside contact until we could get a handle on the risks. My attention now turned to exercise - and biking across North America (virtually).

My Retirement Story - I have no interest in disconnecting fully from the work that makes me so fulfilled. I could never see myself  in bingo-playing retired life. I want to stay curious, engaged, and adding value past the (very specific) date in 2034 that I am aiming for.

My Christmas Story - Whether traveling to see family, or going to Disney or Hawaii, or simply staying home - the season is packed with memories of family and friends.

My Music Story - My favorite music can be best defined as sad / emotional / multi-level slow music. Oddly, it is opposite of my worldview - which is normally overly-positive and optimistic.

My Movie Story - Oddly enough, I think Pretty Woman made me very interested in business. I named my cat Austin Powers - oh, and yes, "Danger" is his middle name. Our current dog is named August Rush (Auggie Doggy). Movies such as Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Forrest Gump, & National Lampoon's Vacation have become soundtracks to my life.

These are all my personal stories. My business stories wrap around channels, partnerships, alliances, and ecosystems and can be found here

Also business related, on this platform I named the top 100 most visible channel influencers and top 100 global women in technology groups that continue to get thousands of visitors per month.

Thanks for taking a walk with me through memory lane!

Monday, July 1, 2024

Milestone Alert! Today I visit my 100th country.

Back in 2010, I wrote a blog titled "100 Country Rollerblades and Red Bull Tour". It was the start of a travel story and a manifestation to reach all four corners of the planet. For those of you in marketing, that blog went viral and spent several years on Page 1 of Google SEO for both keywords Rollerblades and Red Bull!

In my first 35 years, I had traveled to 9 countries. It would take 16 more years to reach the next 91! It also included seeing all 7 continents, 7 wonders of the world, 50 States (only missing New Mexico now), and 10 Canadian Provinces.

Since 2014, it has also included traveling with two children to all 7 continents including Antarctica. I should also mention that Michelle and I work full-time in demanding jobs and only 3-4 weeks per year are available to travel.

Having a sense of adventure and love for travel is different than reaching a target that only a few thousand people in history have achieved. It was actually inspired by the Bucket List movie from 2007 with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. It reinforced the perils of waiting to retirement to really start living. Life tends to get in the way of living with families and careers take over most of our focus.

On the topic of personal bucket lists, here are 4 others beyond this 100 travel goal.

Why 100 countries?

Simple. I wanted it to be remarkable, challenging, but yet attainable. Knowing that out of 193 countries recognized by the United Nations (Vatican City makes 194) dozens of countries are in perpetual war (civil or otherwise), new threats pop up every few months, and a large number are small islands spread around the world, I chose a round number representing half the world.

Here is how the 100 looks on a map:

(This is an iPhone app called Been if you want to create your own travel map)

A bit more complicated than just 100 countries...

Being an industry analyst means there is more to planning travel than just a round number. I downloaded all 193 countries and sorted them by land mass and population. In terms of targeting where to go next, we tend to look at size and global importance of the destination.

While 100 countries represents 52% of the world's countries, it represents 79% of the world's population and 71% of the land mass. Seeing where 8 out of 10 people live (8.1 billion and counting) is a pretty cool achievement!

# of CountriesOf countries visitedPopulationLand Mass
x🇨🇳 China1,345,610,0009,640,821
x🇮🇳 India1,210,193,4223,287,240
x🇺🇸 United States311,950,0009,826,675
x🇮🇩 Indonesia237,556,3631,904,569
x🇧🇷 Brazil195,112,0558,514,877
x🇷🇺 Russia141,927,29717,098,242
x🇯🇵 Japan127,387,000377,873
x🇲🇽 Mexico107,550,6971,958,201
x🇵🇭 Philippines92,226,600300,076
x🇻🇳 Vietnam85,789,573331,689
x🇩🇪 Germany81,757,600357,022
x🇪🇬 Egypt80,143,4431,001,449
x🇹🇷 Turkey77,804,122783,562
x🇨🇩 Democratic Republic of the Congo68,692,5422,344,858
x🇹🇭 Thailand64,232,760513,115
x🇫🇷 France62,793,432551,500
x🇬🇧 United Kingdom62,041,708243,610
x🇮🇹 Italy60,200,060301,318
x🇿🇦 South Africa50,586,7571,221,037
x🇰🇷 South Korea48,456,36999,538
x🇺🇦 Ukraine46,936,000603,700
x🇪🇸 Spain46,087,170506,030
x🇨🇴 Colombia46,083,3841,138,914
x🇹🇿 Tanzania43,739,000945,087
x🇦🇷 Argentina40,091,3592,780,400
x🇰🇪 Kenya39,802,000580,367
x🇵🇱 Poland38,163,895312,685
x🇨🇦 Canada33,740,0009,984,670
x🇺🇬 Uganda32,710,000241,038
x🇲🇦 Morocco32,223,787446,550
x🇵🇪 Peru29,461,9331,285,216
x🇳🇵 Nepal29,331,000147,181
x🇲🇾 Malaysia28,306,700329,847
x🇹🇼 Taiwan23,069,34535,980
x🇲🇿 Mozambique22,894,000801,590
x🇦🇺 Australia22,828,6487,682,300
x🇷🇴 Romania21,466,174238,391
x🇲🇬 Madagascar20,653,556587,041
x🇱🇰 Sri Lanka20,238,00065,610
x🇨🇱 Chile17,277,793756,096
x🇳🇱 Netherlands16,690,00041,526
x🇰🇭 Cambodia14,805,000181,035
x🇿🇼 Zimbabwe13,009,530390,757
x🇨🇺 Cuba11,306,183109,886
x🇬🇷 Greece11,306,183131,957
x🇧🇪 Belgium10,827,51930,528
x🇵🇹 Portugal10,636,88892,391
x🇨🇿 Czech Republic10,532,77078,866
x🇩🇴 Dominican Republic10,090,00048,671
x🇭🇺 Hungary10,013,62893,032
x🇷🇼 Rwanda9,998,00026,338
x🇧🇾 Belarus9,755,106207,600
x🇸🇪 Sweden9,366,092449,964
x🇦🇹 Austria8,372,93083,858
x🇷🇸 Serbia (excluding Kosovo)7,800,00077,474
x🇨🇭 Switzerland7,761,80041,284
x🇮🇱 Israel7,697,60020,770
x🇭🇳 Honduras7,466,000112,492
x🇭🇰 Hong Kong7,003,7001,104
x🇯🇴 Jordan6,316,00089,342
x🇩🇰 Denmark5,532,53143,094
x🇸🇰 Slovakia5,424,05749,033
x🇫🇮 Finland5,389,683338,145
x🇸🇬 Singapore5,076,700710.2
x🇳🇴 Norway4,936,900385,155
x🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates4,599,00083,600
x🇮🇪 Ireland4,581,26970,273
x🇨🇷 Costa Rica4,579,00051,100
x🇭🇷 Croatia4,443,00056,538
x🇳🇿 New Zealand4,315,800270,534
x🇵🇸 Palestinian territories4,100,0006,020
x🇵🇷 Puerto Rico (US)3,982,0008,875
x🇧🇦 Bosnia and Herzegovina3,843,12651,129
x🇺🇾 Uruguay3,463,197175,016
x🇵🇦 Panama3,454,00075,517
x🇦🇱 Albania3,195,00028,748
x🇱🇹 Lithuania3,053,80065,300
x🇯🇲 Jamaica2,719,00010,991
x🇱🇻 Latvia2,248,96164,600
x🇳🇦 Namibia2,171,000824,292
x🇸🇮 Slovenia2,079,34420,256
x🇱🇸 Lesotho2,067,00030,355
x🇧🇼 Botswana1,950,000581,730
x🇶🇦 Qatar1,409,00011,000
x🇪🇪 Estonia1,340,02145,100
x🇸🇿 Swaziland1,185,00017,364
x🇫🇯 Fiji849,00018,274
x🇲🇪 Montenegro630,54814,026
x🇲🇴 Macau (China)541,20029.2
x🇱🇺 Luxembourg502,2072,586
x🇧🇸 The Bahamas342,00013,878
x🇧🇿 Belize322,10023,000
x🇮🇸 Iceland318,452103,000
x🇻🇺 Vanuatu240,00012,189
x🇦🇼 Aruba (Netherlands)107,000193
x🇰🇾 Cayman Islands (UK)56,000264
x🇲🇨 Monaco33,0001.95
x🇬🇮 Gibraltar (UK)31,0006.8
x🇻🇦 Vatican City8260.44

Travel timeline

1. North America (1972-80) - living in Canada and the United States, and travelling several times to Mexico allowed me to complete the continent (and a ton of land mass) early in life.

2. UK & France (1996)

3. Portugal & Spain driving tour (2002)

4. Bahamas, Cuba via vacations (2003-04)

5. Greece (2008) - including Athens, Mykonos and Santorini.

6. 13-country driving & rollerblade tour across Europe starting in Germany, then circling through Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Poland & Czech Republic (2008)

7. China (2009) - including rollerblading through Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong & Macau.

8. Italy (2009) - trip with my mom.

9. South America tour - including rollerblading through Argentina, Uruguay & Brazil - both Rio and Sao Paulo (2010)

10. Caribbean cruise - Haiti, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Cozumel (2010)

11. 7-country South Africa driving and rollerblade tour - Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique & Swaziland (2010)

12. 5-country Scandinavian tour with Michelle (first trip together!) - Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway & Finland (2011)

13. 7-country SE Asia tour with Michelle - Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Philippines & Singapore (2011)

14. 7-country ex-USSR tour with Michelle - Russia (both Moscow & St. Petersburg), Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania (2012)

15. Down-under driving tour with Michelle - Australia & New Zealand (2012)

16. "Wonders of the world" honeymoon with Michelle! - Morocco, Egypt (Cairo & Luxor), Sri Lanka, India (Mumbai, Delhi, & Taj Mahal) & Nepal (Mount Everest) (2013)

17. Asia tour with Michelle and Brooklyn on Mount Fuji for her first birthday - including Japan, Taiwan, South Korea (2015)

18. A very long drive through the entire countries of Ireland, England, Scotland with Michelle, Brooklyn, and Cali, tracing my family roots back to Nottinghamshire, England and Inverness, Scotland. (2016)

19. A beautiful tour down under to Australia and to the South Pacific to Thailand, Indonesia, Vanuatu, and Fiji with Michelle, Brooklyn, and Cali. (2017)

20. A panoramic cruise to the Panama Canal with stops in Aruba, Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica with Michelle, Brooklyn, and Cali. (2017)

21. As part of Michelle's MBA from Manhattan College we visited multiple parts of Peru including Machu Picchu and the Amazon rainforest with Brooklyn, and Cali. (2018)

22. An epic 15-country journey on the way to Australia for a speech, including new country visits to Monaco, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. (2019)

23. Covid stalled our travel for a couple of years but we picked up again by hitting my 7th wonder of the world - Chichen Itza in Mexico (2022). The other 6 were the Taj Mahal (2013), the Colosseum (2009), Machu Picchu (2017), Christ the Redeemer (2010), Petra (2019), and the Great Wall of China (2009).

24. We also hit the Bahamas (Atlantis) in 2022 and then finished the year in epic fashion with an adventure to Antarctica - our 7th continent! We saw Chile and landed in Argentina after the cruise to a newly minted World Cup in soccer. Messi was the world champion and months later would soon land in Miami to play! (2022)

25. We hit the ground running in 2023 with a spring break cruise through the Caribbean - hitting new countries of Honduras and Belize. During summer break we also took an epic cruise to the North Pole (kinda) - Alaska! (2023)

26. The Taylor Swift European driving adventure through London, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris. Also included Disney Paris, Harry Potter show in London, and staying at the majestic Port Lympne Reserve "Lion Lodge" in England. (2024)

27. The ultimate 7-country safari through Africa via Qatar, including gorilla trekking in Uganda, quick trips across the borders of Rwanda and Congo, then safaris through the Serengeti in Tanzania and Masai Mara in Kenya, and finishing with country #100 in Madagascar! (2024)

Where next?

As I mentioned earlier, many countries of the world are off-limits to travel due to safety. This can change often as we learned the day we landed in Egypt during the Arab Spring. Here are some thoughts...

- Eastern Caribbean cruise - Dominican Republic, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St Lucia, Barbados, St Vincent, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago & Aruba.

- Second SE Asia tour - Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar & Laos

- Western Africa tour

- ex-USSR "Stan" tour

Even though the Middle East and much of Africa have been in a constant state of turmoil for centuries, I do hope in my lifetime to see these countries.

The next generation of travel will also involve sailing the blue ocean on a catamaran. More on that here

Ending the journey at 194 countries isn't a specific goal but it would be a happy coincidence!