I’ve traveled to 45 countries and hope some day to see them all. Yesterday, Graham Hughes did. The explorer and the new Guinness World Record holder set out in January of 2009 with the goal of stepping foot in all the United Nations member states without once stepping foot on an airplane.
On November 26, 2010 Hughes completed his mission of visiting the world’s 193 sovereign nations, as well as Kosovo, the Palestinian territory, Taiwan, Vatican City and Western Sahara, by receiving a stamp from South Sudan, his final country and the world’s newest.
Hughes’ journey was not an easy one. Keeping to a budget of roughly £10 a day, Hughes traversed the world, filling four passports and only traveling by plane, bus, taxi or ship. Surprisingly however, the mere refusal of air transportation was not the most challenging obstacle Hughes would encounter. Neither was entering countries on the seeming do-not-enter list. As told to the UK’s Daily Telegraph: “People asked me how I was going to get to Afghanistan or Iraq or North Korea, but they were the easy ones, you don’t even need a visa for Iraq, you just walk across from the border in Turkey…The really tough ones were places like Nauru, and the Maldives and the Seychelles, island countries where there were also pirates.”
A journey around the world is sure to produce a multitude of memories to be forever engrained in the being of Graham Hughes. From dancing with jungle tribes in Papua New Guinea to getting jailed in the Democratic Republic of Congo or watching the Space Shuttle launch in Cape Canaveral, picking one trip highlight is a difficult task. For Hughes it was “the reaffirmation of my faith in humanity and the fact that people I’ve met on the road have been so friendly”. The beauty in travel is that with all the diverse experiences and people you meet along the way, a common thread of the human condition is always found.
It took almost four years but Hughes saw it all. Hopefully, one day, I will too.
To read more about Graham Hughes and his remarkable journey, visit his official site which documents the past four years and the trip of a lifetime.