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 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.
Hughes was born in Liverpool, England in 1979.
His 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.
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.
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.