Meet The Stamp Collectors: Jetset Christina

Meet The Stamp Collectors is a series of interviews with travelers who've reached the milestone of visiting 50 countries, hence they've collected 50 passport stamps. This elite group of adventurers share real-life insights about their love of exploring our precious planet. They are voyagers who seek out unique experiences and develop their own perspective through immersive travel experiences. I hope their stories and sage advice will inspire you to push your boundaries and continue to travel near and far. This is not a contest about who's been to the most countries but a reflection on what it's been like to visit at least a quarter of the world's nations.

Christina is the traveler behind Jetset Christina, a site showcasing the very best in luxury travel in the world's most swoon-worthy locales. She is ranked as one of Travel & Leisure's Top 8 Luxury Travel Instagramers. Born in California, Christina still makes the golden state her home base for a few months out of the year in between jet-setting around the globe. When she isn't overseas she can be caught road tripping along the Pacific Coast Highway or indulging in fine wines in Napa Valley. Like most Californians, her first adventure out of the States was across the border in Mexico. Her family made annual trips to Mexico and her childhood memories in the country have drawn her back many times as an adult. Mexico remains one of her favorites countries to explore partially due to the fascinating culture, but of course also because of guacamole and margaritas! 

She’s visited 55 countries but it's not surpassing the 50+ milestone that's memorable but the countries themselves. She loves the idea of getting to more countries because she simply can't get enough of the unique excitement of finding a new favorite place. Obviously, she wants to have that feeling as much as she can in her lifetime! Who wouldn’t?

What was the 50th country you visited? 

I think it was Montenegro. I will always remember that trip to Montenegro fondly because it was completely new to me; a beautiful, charming little pocket of Europe I never even knew existed! 

Which country cemented your love for travel? 

Italy, hands down. The first time I visited Italy, I was 12 years old and I remember telling my mom "this is my favorite place I've ever been." At the time we were on the island of Capri and had just finished fresh pizzas and triple scoops of lemon gelato. Life was pretty good! Since then, I've explored many parts of Italy. I still can't stop being completely mesmerized by every single part of the country–from the food, to the coast, to the history, to the wine, to the people. When I find myself in another European country, I always miss Italy a little bit. It's like having a crush that you can't get your mind off of... It's amore.

Which was your favorite country for food?

I absolutely love Greek food. Fresh-caught fish, octopus, gyros, Greek salads, spanakopita, feta cheese. Give me everything! The Greek diet is fresh, healthy, and so, so delicious. The best food I've ever had in my life was in Corfu, Greece. 

Which was your favorite country for architecture?

Seeing the unbelievable architecture of structures in Rome, Italy, like the 2,000-year-old Colosseum, or the 500-year-old detail of the Sistine Chapel, is absolutely mind-blowing. 

Which country exceeded your expectations?

Japan! My first time in Japan was also my first time in Asia. It was winter, and I honestly wasn't expecting much. But, oh my gosh what a fabulous country. The culture is so interesting and so different from any other country. The public transportation and the bullet trains are flawless, everything is unbelievably neat, clean, and organized and the safety in the country is incredible. You would see 3-year-olds taking themselves to school on the bullet train. I also loved the people and the nightlife. Tokyo is like New York City on steroids. I was blown away. 

Which country left a lasting impression on you?

Indonesia changed my life! The first time I visited last year, I knew I could live there. Bali is one of the happiest places on earth, and every day there is a dreamy adventure, even if you're not doing anything at all. When I think about paradise, it's exactly what I imagine and when I left my first trip there, I had a pit in my stomach, I knew I had to go back. 

What country are you eager to get back to?

South Africa blew my mind. Its landscape, its beaches, its culture, its wine country, its people. Everything about it. It's so far away and hard to get to, and it is one of my very favorite countries. I can't wait for the day I get back to it. 

What is your all-time favorite country? 

I am so bad at picking favorites. But Italy is pure magic. There are many reasons why it's the world's most popular tourist destination. Italy is so perfect, so beautiful, that it doesn't even feel real. Walking in Venice feels like you're walking in a dream. Boating in Lake Como feels like you're a celebrity. Jumping off the rocks of the Amalfi Coast feels like you're diving head first into the best day of your life. Walking the streets of the Vatican feels like you're living in a Renaissance painting. Eating fresh pasta in Positano feels like you may never be able to eat regular pasta again. Drinking wine in Tuscany feels with your loved one feels like you just fell in love all over again.

What's your favorite phrase in another language you've learned through your travels? 

"Il dolce far niente". The Italians love - and live - this phrase, which translates to "the sweetness of doing nothing". It is a perfect reminder to stop, relax, and enjoy la dolce vita that is Italian life. In a world that moves a little too fast sometimes, you have to love a culture of 4-hour lunches and endless bottles of wine. There's no doubt that the Italians know how to enjoy the present. 

Have you had any responsible travel experiences?

One of my favorite travel days was helping to get running water set up for a village in Ghana. We were only there for a day, but the love, appreciation, and happiness of the kids I met that day will stay with me for a lifetime. 

What is your favorite travel quote? 

"Paradise isn't a place, it's a moment."

What countries are on your bucket list? 

Argentina, because I have heard incredible things about the country, and I absolutely love South American culture. Egypt, for the history and the raw, otherworldly beauty of the Sahara Desert. Kenya, because I'm dying to do an African safari. Dubai, because it seems so futuristic and cool and like no other place in the world. Australia, although I know when I go I may as well get a one-way ticket. I have a feeling I won't want to leave. 

What keeps you motivated to continue traveling?

I'm motivated to keep traveling because every trip is different. The energy that comes from exploring a destination really gives me life. I love that no two people's experiences can ever be the same in a place. Your own experience will never be the same on two different trips to the same place. Traveling is the combination of so many different nuances, from each moment of the trip, who you're with, who you meet, where you go, what you do. You can visit the same place 10 years apart and it's completely changed. There are so many things that go into your experience. The world is ever-evolving. There are still places you've never heard of and places that haven't truly been discovered yet. Nobody will ever be able to say they've seen every place in the world and I absolutely love that. 

What is your top travel tip?

A smile is universal. 

What is the most prolific lesson you've learned through travel? 

Go with the flow. In travel, things happen that you can never plan for. And you know what? Sometimes it's those train delays, flight changes, weather changes, itinerary changes, that end up making your trip what it is in the end. If you let them get to you, or you let yourself stress out over them, you're just wasting precious time on your trip. Maybe it rained and your plans got changed, but maybe you wouldn't have remembered that lazy sunny day on the beach as well as you remember that magical tropical rainstorm day that you ended up swimming in a waterfall. Go with the flow, and let your destination unveil itself to you in ways you could have never imagined! 

Where are you headed next?

After traveling the Southeast United States for a month (Charleston, Miami, the Florida Keys), I will be based out of Bali for the fall. I am so excited to live there for a few months and to explore some of the beautiful places that lie both on the island and just outside of it. 

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