A British man has accomplished what many world travelers have only dreamed of. Over the course of the past four years, he has managed to visit every country on the planet, which is a very impressive feat considering some of the places he had to go to in order to earn this unique distinction. But perhaps most impressive of all is that he traveled to all of those places without ever stepping foot on a plane, something that is increasingly difficult in this day and age.
Graham Hughes (33) set out on his journey on January 1, 2009. He began his travels in Uruguay and continued on for 203 weeks before finally reaching his 201st, and final, country earlier this week. His last stop was South Sudan, the Earth’s newest nation and one that didn’t even exist when he started his wanderings.
Hughes tells Australian newspaper The Age that he traveled with four rules as his guiding principles. First and foremost, he barred himself from ever flying. He also vowed to not drive himself anywhere either, which meant that in order to get around he had to take scheduled ground transportation. Finally, in order to say that he officially visited a country he had to step foot on dry land.In order to visit every country on Earth he of course had to find ways to get into places like Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan. You would think that those places would be extremely challenging to enter, but Graham says that many of them lack the infrastructure necessary to properly patrol their borders, making it relatively easy to slip in or out. Other countries weren’t quite so easy, however, as he was arrested while trying to sneak into Russia and was detained for a week in the Congo as well.
The most difficult countries to reach, at least in terms of logistics, were island nations like those found in the South Pacific. Hughes says that supply ships visit them infrequently and he often had to time his travel just right or risk missing a ship and end up waiting for weeks for the next one to embark. Most of us would obviously just hop a flight, but when you ban yourself from using that form of travel, it can really limit your mobility.
In 2009, Graham set a world record for visiting the most countries in a single year at 133. After that, he spent the ensuing months knocking off the remaining 68 countries while also raising funds for WaterAid, an organization dedicated to promoting clean drinking water around the globe.
So, what do you think of Graham’s efforts? Is he the ultimate world traveler or the ultimate guy with a checklist? While I admire his ability to travel to so many places, particularly without flying, I can’t help but think that many of those destinations were just a blur for him. I think I’d like to replicate the same journey, but do so at a much slower pace. How about you?
[Photo Credit: AFP]