Graham Hughes – Every Country in the World with no Air Travel – Amazing Vagabond

Editor’s Note: The uptight folks at Guinness have finally given him credit as of January 5, 2014. Republishing now from 9 Feb 2013.

Graham HughesGraham Hughes (@everycountry )is an Amazing Vagabond. The British man is the first in the world to ever visit all 201 countries without using air transport. The task took him four years and was completed in November of 2012. At the moment, there is some controversy attached to his feat as the Guinness Book of World Records has refused to acknowledge his accomplishment because his crossing into Russia was illegal. They don’t hold with breaking the law – and yet, he did it. Early this year he crossed into Russia legally and is waiting to hear back from the uptight suits at Guinness.

Graham Hughes

Hughes was born in Liverpool, England in 1979.

graham hughesHis quest began in 2008 and was covered by a program on the National Geographic Channel called “Graham’s World”. During the course of his “Odyssey Expeditions” he was arrested numerous times and proved himself to be a regualr pain in the ass to authorities and a pretty cool guy to the rest of us. He was imprisoned in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, arrested when he snuck into Russia, and ran a blockade in Cuba.

The rules of his trip were: no flying, no private transport (a rule enforced by the Guinness World Records race regulations, which cannot condone a public race in private vehicles) and no travelling to far flung territories and counting them as visiting the motherland. For example he couldn’t visit French Polynesia and count it as visiting France.

Hughes traveled 160,000 miles in 1,426 days – all on a budget of just $100 a week. He kept costs low through couchsurfing and hitching rides with locals and cargo ships.

Best quote?

I think I wanted to show that the world is not some big, scary place, but in fact is full of people who want to help you

Although, this bit from his bio page might be a close runner up:

If you had to define in a sentence what drives him perhaps it’s the desire that years from now schoolchildren across the land will be required to learn his date of birth.

Graham Hughes Route
Greaham Hughes Route

In fact, Hughes description of his journey is worthy of quoting all by itself

It was an adventure of epic proportions. I spent four days crossing open ocean in a leaky wooden boat to reach Cape Verde, I was imprisoned for a week in Congo and was arrested whilst attempting to sneak into Russia.

I ran the blockade into Cuba, blagged my way into Eritrea, ran around Iraq with an AK-47, spent seven days in Tibet and warned schoolchildren in Afghanistan about the dangers of men with beards.

I met the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, rode on top of a 18-wheeler through the northern badlands of Kenya, hitched a ride on a cruise ship to The Dominican Republic, joined a Bwiti tribe in Gabon, screamed at the ocean in El Salvador and watched a space shuttle blast off in the USA.

I’ve fed the crocs in Australia, hunted the dragons of Komodo, befriended the orangutans in Borneo, played with the lemurs in Madagascar, washed the elephants in India and eaten live octopus in South Korea.

I tip-toed into North Korea, took the slow boat to Nauru, danced with the Highlanders of Papua New Guinea and was rescued from Muslim fundamentalists in The Philippines by a ladyboy called Jenn.

Yes, he’s an Amazing Vagabond. No doubt about that.

Amazing Vagabond – Chris Guillebeau – Every Country in the World

This is an excerpt from my book “Vagabonds: Sometimes Getting Lost is the Point” . It’s available as an ebook for kindle or ebook readers. Over the next several months we will be exploring some of these amazing vagabond characters from the past (and present).

Some years ago, a friend sent me a link to Chris Guillebeau’s website.

amazing vagabond chris guillebeau“Wow. You should do this.” That’s what she wrote to me. As if it were the simplest thing in the world to visit every country of the world. And that is really the magic of Chris Guillebeau – he makes it seem that simple. Maybe he even makes it that simple, though I haven’t met anyone else who is going about things the way he is, so I really can’t say.

One thing is for sure, Chris is amazing. The website I looked at and was referred to was his blog at http://chrisguillebeau.com/. If you haven’t yet heard of him or his work, let me give you the cliff notes version from his bio page.

I served as a volunteer executive for a medical charity in West Africa from 2002-2006. It was thrilling, challenging, and exhausting—all good qualities to have in an adventure. I gave keynote speeches to presidents, hung out with warlords, and learned far more in those four years than anything I learned in college.

After my time in West Africa came to an end in 2006, I came to Seattle for a graduate program in International Studies at the University of Washington. I enjoyed my studies, but I enjoyed travel even more – during every break between quarters, I traveled independently to countries like Burma, Uganda, Jordan, Macedonia, and 20 more.

And then…he decided to change the world.

Chris is a self-employed dude who set himself the task of visiting every country in the world and created a blog called The Art of Non-Conformity. In 2008 he published a manifesto called (not surprisingly) A Brief Guide to World Domination. I recommend that you download it free from his site right now. In 2010 he published The Art of Non-Conformity and as of right now, Chris has visited all but one country in the world in his quest.  Along the way, he has inspired people, created new projects, and shown countless (I’m sure someone could count them, but I can’t) people how to ‘travel-hack’ i.e. use airline systems of points and rewards to improve their travel and improve their lives. His recently released book The $100 Startup is a entrepreneurial self-help masterpiece that I recommend you read (even if I do tend to think that Chris and the people he profiles are far from the average folk he portrays them to be).

Here is something truly Amazing about Chris – despite his intense popularity, his incredible accomplishments, and his ultra-positive ‘you can do it’ message – you would be hard pressed to find anyone who will say a bad word about him. Compare that with author Tim Ferris who I will profile next week and you will see why that is so amazing. Chris Guillebeau is such a genuinely nice guy that even the hater trolls can’t seem to hate him.

Chris has been featured in the New York Times, Psychology Today, Business Week, Budget Travel, Oregonian, La Presse, Washington Times, MSNBC, Anderson Cooper’s 360 and on a laundry list of great websites you should read if you don’t already: Seth Godin, Slate, LifeHacker, Zen Habits, Behance, Career Renegade, Happiness Project, Rolf Potts Vagablogging, and literally hundreds of other blogs (now including Vagobond.com).

He currently lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife Jolie although where he is at any given moment is incredibly difficult to say for certain.  If you don’t virtually or personally know Chris yet, I recommend you bring him into your life.

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