this article from The Age, a British man has earned the distinction of becoming the first person to visit every nation on the planet without flying. 33-year old Graham Hughes says that he has spent the better part of the past four years traveling the globe to accomplish this feat, ending his quest by crossing into the Earth's newest country, South Sudan, a few days ago.
Hughes says that his journey began on January 1, 2009 in Uruguay. Since then he has spent 1426 days traveling almost non-stop, visiting 201 countries in the process. In addition to visiting all 193 members of the United Nations, he has also dropped by the Vatican, Kosovo, Taiwan, Palestine and the Western Sahara.
Graham tells The Age that he actually had four rules for how he would travel. In addition to not flying anywhere, he also vowed to not drive his own vehicle either. He could only take scheduled ground transportation and his definition of visiting a country meant that he had to step foot on dry land.
The world traveler says that visiting places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, while dangerous, were actually quite easy. Because those countries lack proper border controls, it was easy to sneak into them. Thats in contrast to Russia for instance, where he was arrested while crossing the border. He was also tossed into a jail in the Congo for a week as well. The hardest places to visit? Those would be the tiny island nations of the South Pacific, which are difficult to reach by anything other than an aircraft.
Hughes undertook this journey to raise funds for WaterAid, an organization dedicated to finding clean drinking water for developing parts of the world. He also apparently has stockpiled quite a few photos from his journey and posted them to his website, but as of this writing the site appears to be down.
As someone who absolutely loves to visit the remote corners of the globe, I have to say I'm a bit jealous of Graham's travels. But then again, he was also knocking off countries at a surprising pace (133 in 2009 alone!) which doesn't really allow for someone to get a true taste of the culture. While he has had the opportunity to visit some amazing places, I have to imagine that he doesn't remember much about many of them nor did he really get the opportunity to enjoy many of them either. I do love that he traveled over land however, as that experience is unlike any other.
Thanks to my friend Alan for sharing this great story this morning. It definitely has me thinking about my next journey!