One More Country Syndrome

Train from Istanbul to Sofia. Riding the Bosphorus Express.

Trees in the Bulgarian countryside.

Rain drops on the window as seen from a moving train to Sofia.

Vitosha Road, a pedestrian street lined with restaurants and cafes in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Red autumn leaves on an iron fence, Sofia, Bulgaria.

Kissing the Invisible Man

I’m currently supposed to be travelling around the Middle East with stops in Israel, Jordan and Turkey, and while that’s still happening, this past weekend I somehow found myself in Bulgaria.


I call itΒ one-more-country-syndrome.

You know how it goes, you find yourself somewhere new looking at a map and think, “Well, I don’t know the next time I’m going to be in this region so I may as well make the most of the neighbouring county’s proximity.”

Next thing you know you are looking at bus and train schedules, checking visa requirements, and trying to do the conversion from lira to lev. And just like that, you end up with a ticket from Istanbul to Sofia aboard the Bosphorus Express.

I know I probably could have spent more time exploring Turkey, perhaps gone to Cappadocia or ventured over to Ephesus instead, but I had never been to the Balkans before, and Turkey’s neighbour to the north offered an irresistible opportunity to add a new country and a new city to my repertoire.

This isn’t the first time I have been a victim of one-more-country-syndrome…

There was the time I ended up in Tallinn as a little side trip from Helsinki (I couldn’t just blow past Estonia!), and also the time I went to Strasbourg as a little day visit from Stuttgart (because who comes to Germany and doesn’t pay a visit to the French?)

I have a feeling this won’t be the last time I find myself longing for a destination ‘just-across-the-border’.

But how about you?

How many times have you caught yourself thinking ‘just one more country’?


  • I give into the “one more country syndrome” before I even start the journey! πŸ™‚

    I prefer to pick a massive region (e.g., Eastern Europe or Africa) and then just block out 3-4 years to explore that region slowly. I pick know all the countries up front – it’s a cohesive (instead of disjointed/random) travel experience (which makes it easier to write a book about it). πŸ˜‰

    I hope to see you in Africa one day, Audrey! πŸ˜‰
    Francis Tapon recently posted..Are Nomads Running Away From Something?My Profile

    • Audrey says:

      I’ll get to Africa eventually. I have it on my radar. πŸ˜‰ I hope the research for the next book is coming along well! I so enjoyed your Eastern Europe one, so I can’t wait to see what the next one holds.

      • Although I’m only 8 months into my trip (40 more months to go), I could already write an entire book on Africa! So I’ll have plenty of content. πŸ˜‰

        BTW, it would be nice if people who comment would have the option of getting an email notification when you (or someone else) replies to their comment. There should be two options: (1) notify on ALL new posts and (2) notify only on replies to my post.
        Francis Tapon recently posted..Morocco: Street Food or Cafes & Restaurants?My Profile

  • kami says:

    ah, I’ve been doing that way too many times! the weirdest country probably has been Liechtenstein because since I was going from Switzerland to Austria anyway… now I’m planning my 2 weeks in South Africa and I’m working hard on squizing Lesotho, Swaziland or Zimbabwe in πŸ˜‰ because who knows when I might end up in that part of the world again… πŸ˜‰ hope you like Bulgaria and it’s not disappointing πŸ™‚
    kami recently posted..Cafe culture in EstoniaMy Profile

    • Audrey says:

      Sounds totally doable. πŸ˜‰ I mean, Lesotho is IN the country, so I’m sure you’ll find a way to pass through it, and the other two are practically a skip and a hop away. Yes to one more country!!! πŸ˜‰

  • I know exactly what you mean! Done it a ton of times although I do have an important rule: if the either of the countries is large (Spain size and above) I stick to just one! Because in the end, I still prefer to see more of one country than adding an overnight trip to the next, however intense the urge to do so may be. I didn’t have that rule yet when I just started traveling so Brunei, Panama, El Salvador, Qatar, Dominica, Poland, South Africa, Burkina Faso; all visited thanks to/because of the “one more country syndrome”. Great post!
    Sarah @ travelcake recently posted..How to spend the weekend in Budapest (when you’ve already done the sightseeing)My Profile

    • Audrey says:

      Ooo, you added lots of new countries through the ‘one-more-country’ system! Nice! I do agree with you that sometimes it is best to focus on an entire country when it’s quite large. The landscapes and the culture can change so drastically from one end of the country to the other, that it almost feels like you’re in an entirely you new country. That’s how I feel about Argentina.

  • We also have that “problem”. When we were in Turkey, we decided to go to Georgia and Armenia, and why not? They’re just a bus ride away πŸ™‚

    We thought about Bulgaria too but ran out of time. Enjoy your travels, we’ve been following your adventures!
    Dariece @GoatsOnTheRoad recently posted..Tajikistan: A Magnificent Melting Pot of PeopleMy Profile

    • Audrey says:

      Ahh, I wanted to go to Tbilisi so bad, but I couldn’t quite justify such a long overland journey when Sofia was relatively nearby. I’m hoping to make it to that part of the world eventually. You guys are making me jealous with all your updates from the -Stans. πŸ˜‰

  • SnarkyNomad says:

    I call this the “I’m only going to be here once” mentality and it’s what got me up and sightseeing in Italy from 5 am in the middle of winter every morning until sunset when it was literally so cold I couldn’t be outside anymore. “I’m only going to be here once. I have to go see the Coliseum. Even if it’s raining and I have no rain jacket or umbrella. The weather might never get pleasant ever on this whole trip. Go dammit, just go!”

    It was all sunshine and rainbows the very next day.
    SnarkyNomad recently posted..Why the Seven Wonders of the World are totally stupidMy Profile

    • Audrey says:

      Oh man, winter in any city is brutal! I hardly manage to visit any outdoor attractions when I travel during winter. Cafes, museums and art galleries are my excuse for staying warm, but even that can get dull after a while. Good on you for going out there and exploring Rome regardless of the cold!

  • A slight variation: “I need to go on a visa run, so I may as well as bag a new country” syndrome πŸ™‚
    James Shannon recently posted..Chill Out And Go Rafting In Calgary, Canada Next Summer!My Profile

  • Nicole says:

    I just don’t think my husband and I have ever had that “syndrome.” If we did, our traveling, I think, would be too jam-packed and that’s never good. Best to take it one at a time. There will always be room for that next country in the future. =)
    Nicole recently posted..What Travel is About: That β€œWow” MomentMy Profile

  • Haha we are actually falling prey to the one more country syndrome right now! We definitely prefer to travel slowly and spend two or three months in each country we visit, but right now we’re debating on a quick hop over to Panama while we are so close in Costa Rica. Our problem is we want to do everything, so often we have trouble cramming it all in even with a lot of time!
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  • Maria says:

    I love your spirit and energy. Spontaneity is the spice of life.
    Maria recently posted..Haiku: Uncertain DelayMy Profile

  • Nick - Goats On The Road says:

    Ha! We wanted to do the exact same thing when we were in Istanbul. Bulgaria was so close, but we just succumbed to “one more country syndrome” (OMCS, I guess) by hopping over to Georgia and Armenia. It happens a lot, but what a great syndrome it is.
    Nick – Goats On The Road recently posted..Tajikistan: A Magnificent Melting Pot of PeopleMy Profile

  • Simbarashe says:

    Simbarashe recently posted..New York.My Profile

  • Rebecca says:

    I believe your always drawn to a place for a particular reason. I am such a sucker for one more country syndrome… always to much to see and not enough time to see it all
    Rebecca recently posted..Travel makes you fat – Special guest – The Heathrow InjectionMy Profile

  • Nothing wrong with this. I think if it feels right do it. That’s the best rule of thumb for traveling. …sometimes one needs to not keep moving, and sometimes that is all one does feel like doing. So when I get that urge, I ride the wave. I don’t let it pass me by. Not only do I not know “when I will be in that region again” but I also don’t know when I will have that kind of energy/need to press on and see more.
    Colleen Brynn recently posted..Oh, Mr. Sandman…My Profile

  • Sam says:

    Coming from Europe has definitely spoiled me: everything’s so close and accessible! Because I know I’ll always be going to Europe again and again over my lifetime, I haven’t suffered from that there. Being in Ecuador right now and not having time to visit neighbouring Colombia, on the other hand, is kind of killing me. Next time, right? Just don’t know when that’ll be.
    Sam recently posted..From Bean to Bar: Learning to Make Chocolate in LimaMy Profile

  • I see nothing wrong with this syndrome. πŸ˜€
    Karyn @ Journey Out Of Plastic recently posted..Hotel Toiletries – What To Do?My Profile

  • Beth says:

    I will always suffer from OMCS! Unfortunately, the countries I end up tacking on never get properly explored, so I always feel as though I have to return. πŸ™‚
    Beth recently posted..Travel Tuesdays: Skiing in Japan, Land of the Falling SnowMy Profile

  • Agness says:

    So much like me! πŸ™‚
    Agness recently posted..Low Budget Guide To FloridaMy Profile

  • Corinne says:

    Of course I can relate to this post! Why do you think I drove 800 (count them 800! miles) out of the way to say I’d been to North Dakota. And how else would I have gotten to Andorra, or Monaco, or Lichtenstein or hopefully in January – Brunei! Yep! I can relate. Love it.
    Corinne recently posted..Fisherman from Cochin, IndiaMy Profile

  • I do it all the time. I am supposed to go to the UK in December, but I am making a side trip to Burma. It is just 5 days, but I’d rather only visit some parts of a country, than not at all.
    TammyOnTheMove recently posted..My Cambodia homestay experienceMy Profile

  • Sara says:

    I suffer from this syndrome every time I plan a trip. That’s how I ended up squeezing five countries into a two and a half week trip. Crazy really, I do want to see more of the countries, but before I quit my job I only had a few weeks of vacation every year so I had to do what I could out of it. Now when I’ve quit my job to travel I plan on spending more time in every country to learn from it.

    Are you a member of Club 100 yet?

  • Veronica says:

    So nice and sunny pictures. My favorite one is with leaves on the ground.
    Thank you for a good mood you’ve created today =)
    Veronica recently posted..Capoeira: My ImpressionsMy Profile

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  • Sarah says:

    Totally can relate to one-more country syndrome. If you’re going to Paris, Brussels is only 1.5 hrs away. From Brussels, Amsterdam is another 1.5 hours away.
    Just found your blog. Following it now!
    Happy travels!

  • Kathryn says:

    I kinda do this with US states, like I’ll try to find flights that go through states I haven’t been to just so “technically” I can add to my state count.

  • Let us be grateful for all those small countries that make the one-more-country syndrome possible!

  • dewi says:

    hi audrey.. i see u hv so many adventures around the world. wow!
    i m dewi from indonesia πŸ™‚ have u ever visited my country?
    i live in Banyuwangi, here hv ijen mountain that very cool. at night u can see blue fire, in the morning you can see sun rise, worker who carry out at least 70 kg sulfur from top to the ground and for sure a heaven view πŸ™‚ . but becareful of the wind, it blows with sands, so i sugget u to use glasses πŸ™‚
    Welcome to my village… :-*

  • Nina says:

    Hahaha, yes yes and YES. Thanks for naming this a “syndrome.” I feel like I can finally call it something, For me it’s usually just, “But it’s right there!”

    I have separated trips because there was an inevitable layover somewhere so I’ll just booked two separate tickets and stayed there for a few days.

    Oh darn, I have to leave the country for a border run? Well I mine as well keep an eye on flights, go somewhere …say, Singapore for a few days? and then fly back. <3 it! If i'm near it or in need of a border run from Thailand, I try to make it to "just one more…"
    Nina recently posted..Happy 2014 from Koh LantaMy Profile

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