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Jodi Covington visits her 40th country on her 40th birthday

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Chasing a dream: Jodi Covington looking glamorous shortly before a hot-air balloon ride in Turkey (Photograph supplied)

Jodi Covington prides herself on showing up for the people she cares about. “I am always trying to prove that I am a good person, a good friend and a good mother,” Ms Covington said.

When she turned 35, she decided enough was enough.

“I made a pact with myself, that I would finally live the way I wanted to live, and stop caring about what other people thought of me,” she said. “If my best was not good enough, then it was what it was.“

Ms Covington is a Bermudian living in Covington, Georgia. She runs public relations and marketing firm The Brand Development Group, formerly known as the JD Lewis Group, and has clients in both the US and Bermuda.

Nothing to prove: Jodi Covington in Lisbon, Portugal, while doing a tour of six countries to celebrate her 40th birthday in January (Photograph supplied)

When age 40 approached this year, it was emotional, but not in a sad way.

“It was nice,” she said. “I am not proving to anyone that I am good any more. I have my credentials. My children are great. They are doing fantastically in life. I have done everything that I said I could do.”

Ms Covington wanted to do something extra special this year to mark her fourth decade.

She loves travelling and had already visited 34 countries.

“I was chatting to a colleague, and I said, ‘hey, what if I could make it to 40 countries, before my 40th birthday?’,” she said.

The more she and her friend talked about it, the more the idea solidified.

“I started inviting people to come with me and I started thinking about what the fastest way would be to see six countries.”

She picked places she really wanted to see: Portugal, Greece, Switzerland, Morocco, Turkey and Italy. Then she scheduled a 20-day vacation to see it all, starting on January 14.

Experiences of a lifetime: Jodi Covington, fourth camel from the left, and her travel buddies taking a camel ride in Morocco (Photograph supplied)

“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” she laughed.

Because her chosen destinations were not necessarily close to each other, she and her group spent more than 100 hours travelling.

“We took 17 to 20 different flights during this trip,” she said. “We also caught trains, and rented a car to drive through Switzerland. It was absolutely insane. We could only spend two or three days in each destination. ”

If she was to do it again with the goal of hitting six countries in a short time, she would pick locations closer together.

After a stopover in London, her group started the trip in Lisbon, Portugal.

From there they went to Sintra, Portugal, a scenic town 38 minutes northwest of Lisbon, once a summer retreat for Portuguese nobles and royals.

“We saw all the beautiful castles,” Ms Covington said.

From Portugal, they went to Marrakesh, Morocco.

“That was my first African country,” she said. “It was really, really beautiful.”

In Italy, they took trains everywhere.

“When you get to Venice you have to take a boat from the train station, to get to your hotel,” she said. “Venice was my least favourite destination. Maybe it was fantastic back in the day, but it is so touristy now. It was very, ‘step up, see this, pay your money go to your next thing’. Also, I was not completely prepared for all the stairs.”

For this trip they each took two suitcases. In the past, she has taken only backpacks thinking she could skip having to check her bags.

This did not work well, with many smaller planes forcing them to check their backpacks in anyway.

However, the suitcases were not without their challenges.

“Sometimes getting our suitcases onto the shelves in trains was exhausting,” she said. “Luckily, we had two guys with us.”

She admitted that packing and unpacking was a nuisance.

“We still had to look cute during this trip, right,” she said. “We still had to take great pictures. Our wardrobes were well thought out, so we were constantly in and out of the luggage.”

Ms Covington marked her 40th birthday on January 30 in Greece.

“I brought up one of my daughters to celebrate with me,” she said. “Some other friends also flew up to to meet me in Athens. We flew over to Santorini, Greece for my birthday.”

Again she felt that Santorini was a bit of a tourist trap.

“It was one of those Instagram versus reality, moments,” she said. “However, because we went in the off season, we were fortunate to experience the community without a lot of people around. Many places were closed for the off season, but the places that were open seemed really glad to have us, which was nice. We stayed in a hotel carved out of rock.”

She thought Switzerland had the best scenery, but was very expensive. “We went tubing there,” she said.

Her favourite spot on the trip was Rome, Italy.

“I would definitely go back there,” she said. “The food was some of the best I have had in the world, and I have been to quite a few places. Rome was just stunning.”

She also loved the history of the ancient city.

“Turkey was also fantastic,” she said. “We went up in a hot-air balloon. It was insanely fun. There were hundreds of other hot air balloons out there with us.”

Being January, it was snowing. “I am from Bermuda, live in Georgia and have visited the islands, where it is warm,” she said. “For that reason I like to go to places that snow on vacation. Maybe it is because I was born in January.”

She went to Alaska for her 39th birthday, when the temperature was -30F.

“I have heated socks, vest, gloves and hat, so I do not necessarily feel cold when I go outside,” she said. “I’m well prepared.”

Ms Covington does not know yet where she will go for her 41st birthday.

“I need to do more travel in South America, or Africa,” she said.

However, travel is not all fun and games for her. “I have never been on a vacation and not taken my laptop,” she said.

She often runs meetings while on vacation.

“I did a three-hour business meeting when we were in Athens, just before my birthday dinner,” she said. “If you want to play hard, you have to work hard. Perhaps my next goal will be to vacation without my laptop.”

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Published April 17, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated April 18, 2024 at 8:07 am)

Jodi Covington visits her 40th country on her 40th birthday

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