Practically everyone caught up in the romance of travelling has wondered what it would be like to visit every country in the world. Few people can even begin to consider it a realistic goal. Even fewer actually go on to attempt the feat.
In November 2012, Graham Hughes, a 33-year-old man from Liverpool became the first person to travel to all 193 members of United Nations plus Taiwan, Vatican City, Palestine, Kosovo, Western Sahara and the four home nations of The United Kingdom without taking a single flight.
In order to achieve a Guinness World Record certification, Mr Hughes was also limited from driving himself or travelling over large distances in private vehicles (Guinness added these extra stipulations because they do not recognise road races of any kind – no doubt for safety reasons).
Starting on New Year’s Day 2009, it took the enthusiastic, thoughtful and resourceful adventurer 1,426 days to complete his personal odyssey.
During that time he covered around 160,000 miles using a combination of his own steam and rides on animals, buses, taxis, trains and boats.
Mr Hughes sustained himself on a relatively shoestring budget of US $100 a week, keeping costs down by couch-surfing and hitching lifts wherever he could – many of the ocean-going legs were accomplished with rides on cargo ships.
Mr Hughes documented his travels on his blog The Odyssey Expedition. The site tells tales of running the blockade into Cuba, meeting the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, a four-day open water crossing to Cape Verde in a leaky wooden boat, being imprisoned for a week in Congo and escaping Muslim fundamentalists in The Philippines with the help of a ladyboy called Jenn.
One word. JEALOUS!
Update: Guinness World Records refused to ratify Mr Hughes’ journey as a record because he had entered Russia - wading through the River Narva from Estonia - without a valid Russian visa. On January 29, he made the journey with a visa, and snapped the picture above in Kaliningrad.
Here are some more pictures from The Odyssey Expedition
Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…Brett Ackroyd