Meet The Stamp Collectors: Dawn of 5 Lost Together

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.

Dawn is the voice behind 5 Lost Together, she loves traveling and her adventures traveling and living overseas with her three children. The Canadian, who lives in Australia, has visited 52 countries and believes strongly in traveling with kids by whatever and any means possible–backpacking, sailing, or living as expats overseas. The 50th country she reached was India, but she had to check with her husband to be sure. He keeps an Excel spreadsheet with all the places they've visited but she can't keep track. For her, travel isn't about the number of countries she's reached, but more about the unique experiences each country brings. Now that's a travel ethos I can seriously get behind.

What is your favorite travel quote?

If you think travel is dangerous, try routine. It is lethal. 

Which was your favorite country for food? 

My favorite destination for food would have to be Thailand. It is for good reason that Thai food is famous all over the world. I love the flavor combinations, fresh ingredients, and low prices. It is also a great destination for vegetarians and you don't have to work too hard to find tasty veggie meals. My favorite dish in Thailand is Tom Kha Kai soup, which is a coconut soup and much mellower than its Tom Yum relative.

Which country cemented your love for travel? 

When I was a teenager my parents pulled us out of school for a couple of years to sail to the Bahamas, which was my 4th country. It was during this time that I got hooked on long-term travel and saw people living alternative lifestyles. I love sailing as a way of travel because you get to move around with your home. I also appreciate the way you have to be self-sufficient and live minimalisticly in a tiny space. As a teenager, it opened my eyes to living outside the box and made me realize there were so many other ways to educate yourself other than school. Of course, the turquoise waters and white sand beaches of the Bahamas also captured by heart. 

What country are you eager to get back to? 

We love Indonesia and Bali in particular. Yes, it is touristy, but I love the essence of the island and how exotic and spiritual it feels. For me, you don't go to Bali for the beaches, you go for the rich culture. Bali offers incredible value with inexpensive and delicious foods, excellent accommodation and an incredible level of serenity. 

Which country exceeded your expectations?

We absolutely loved Sri Lanka. It was a great introduction to the Indian sub-continent and offers up so many diverse experiences. From spotting wild elephants, climbing ancient fortresses, pristine beaches and fiery curries, Sri Lanka is an amazing destination. It felt exotic but was still easy enough to travel around in, with reasonable prices. We found the people to be extremely friendly, welcoming, and eager to show off their beautiful country. With the increased stability of the country, we would love to return and see the northeastern part of the country. 

Have you had any responsible travel experiences? 

We spent a month in Nicaragua and the first week we attended a Spanish language school (La Mariposa) and stayed in a homestay with a local family. For us non-Spanish speakers this was challenging and uncomfortable at times as we couldn't communicate easily with our hosts and we were living in very basic conditions. It was incredible to have one on one Spanish instruction and to really see how local families live. La Mariposa provides so many opportunities for its small community from employment, to health care and education supports. It was a wonderful way to feel like your tourism dollars were really making a difference. 

Dawn also shared her experience at La Mariposa in the World Tourism Day post.

Which country left a lasting impression on you? 

Visiting Zimbabwe was eye-opening when I visited in 2006. It is a country that is barely functioning and yet it is the most beautiful place. I have long been intrigued by the colonial history of Africa and it is heartbreaking to watch such a promising country, floundering. We spent two months traveling eastern Africa overland and each of the eight countries we visited left a special mark. 

Which country disappointed you?

South Africa disappointed me in many ways. We found it extremely beautiful with its wild animals, beautiful wine regions, and amazing coastline–but I couldn't shake the feeling of it being a divided country. The peace felt fragile and we had trouble coming to terms with the inequality and separation of the country. It was a bit daunting to see car guards, huge fences around large shops and homes and the poverty of the slums. We still enjoyed our time there, but it is not somewhere I would rush back to. 

What countries are on your bucket list? 

Probably almost every one! High priority and likely bucket list countries for the next year include the Philippines, Myanmar, and China. When we first traveled Southeast Asia, 11 years ago, you didn't really hear about people visiting the Philippines. The last few years there has been so much exposure on social media of Palawan and it somewhere I want to see for myself. My husband visited Myanmar years ago and it is a country that intrigues me. China is a country that I don't have a huge desire to visit, but feel I the need to see. 

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