33-year old Graham Hughes has managed to accomplish something that few of us could ever hope to dream of. Over the past four years the British man has spent the majority of his time traveling the globe, visiting as many countries as possible. Last week his travels came to an end however when he simply ran out of countries. After 1426 days on the road, Hughes had managed to visit every country on Earth, but perhaps even more impressive, he did so without ever setting foot on an airplane.
Hughes first set out on his globetrotting journey from Uruguay on January 1, 2009. Over the next 203 weeks he visited a total of 201 countries, reaching the planet’s youngest nation, South Sudan, last week. That country became an independent state in the summer of 2011, which means it wasn’t even around when Graham set out on his journey.
Before departing on his amazing trip, Graham set down four rules that would define how he traveled the globe. In addition to his ban on using aircraft of any type, he also vowed not to drive himself at any time as well. That meant that he was resigned to taking scheduled ground transportation, such as busses and ferries to reach his various destinations. Finally, in order to make his visit to a country “official,” Graham had to set foot on dry land.
Some of the more challenging and off the beaten path places that Graham managed to visit include Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and even North Korea. Those places would seem like ones that would be difficult to enter, but the Brit says that they were actually quite easy. Without proper border control stations, he was often able to slip in and out without notice, despite the conflicts and political upheaval taking place inside those nations. It wasn’t all easy however, as Hughes was arrested while trying to sneak into Russia and was detained for a full week in the Congo too.
As for the most challenging places to visit, Graham says that it was easily the tiny island nations of the South Pacific. Typically those countries wouldn’t be much of a challenge to reach if you’re using a plane, but considering his ban on air travel, he was forced to rely on cargo ships to deliver him to those destinations. That meant he had to watch shipping schedules closely and catch a vessel when he could or risk spending days in a single place waiting for the next opportunity to set sail.
Obviously Graham’s adventure was an amazing one and a great undertaking, but he didn’t do it just for the experience itself. Hughes used his round-the-world trip to also raise funds for WaterAid, an organization dedicated to promoting the importance of clean drinking water in under developed nations.
By Kraig Becker