Last week I landed with my dear family in Asmara. Asmara is the capital of Eritra – country number 196 / 196 – the final country that completes my long journey. (pls see below for further about the project)
Getting to Eritrea was far from easy. The process of obtaining our visas ended up being the most nerve wracking of them all and it almost cancelled our entire family summer holiday. You can read about that here.
Finishing my quest means that I now hold the following records (sorry for the shameless self-promotion, see below for definitions):
- Youngest Dane in every country and continent (47 years and 234 days)
- Possibly the worlds youngest ‘hobby & family traveller’ to visit every country (please let me know if you know of someone younger..)
- Most travelled person in Denmark
Along the way I have been lucky enough to get travel articles from 50 different countries published – mainly for the major Danish newspapers Berlingske, BT, Jyllands-Posten, BT Metro and Jysk Fynske Medier. The last few years I have been very nervous that one of the countries who do not issue visas for journalists would find out about my freelance travel writing and therefore deny me the visa. Fortunately, that did not happen and I am now finally again able to publicly post and publish whatever I want – also the controversial stuff.
All my travels have been self-financed. Every flight and every night of accommodation I have paid for myself. While I have the deepest respect for many other travellers/bloggers/influencers who get sponsored I like to pay for myself. I cannot see why a person from a rich country should get free accommodation in a country where local (often poor) employees work hard to support themselves. Also, I have always wanted to show others how it is possible for a normal man with a normal job, a family and a house to visit every country in the world.
Of course, it has not always only been a bed of roses. Some visas have been super hard to get. Some countries are dangerous (although always doable – even with kids). It has taken me a long time of planning, researching, worrying and connecting to others to get help. Thank you very much to anyone who assisted.
So, what will I do now? For this question I have many answers: Live without pressure. Take a vacation. Relax and enjoy. Find a new list to tick off from. Write a book. Travel more with my family. Hopefully document more special ceremonies and special people. Hopefully interview more famous travellers. Have fun. Re-start my public speaking. And hopefully become world champion in table tennis within my age group (presently I am only ranked around perhaps No. 1.000 so that is probably going to be a little hard and will require me to become extremely old..).
A very special THANKS to the following:
- My great family: Charlotte, Ava and Jonas – fantastic fellow travelers who also let me take the occasional solo trip. To my fantastic parents for never expressing worry over my crazy destinations. All my colleagues who have had to listen to my never-ending travel considerations.
- Fellow travellers who have helped – especially: Frode Kjems Uhre, Gunnar Garfors, Henrik Jeppesen, Erik Futtrup, Ole Pedersen, Ric Gazarian, Rasmus Krath, Uri Golman, Anders Madsen Pedersen, Søren Bonde, Bo Løvschall and Hans Petter Stølsvik
- My employers through the years especially Wingmen, Axcess and Atea for allowing extra holidays.
- Local fixers especially Andualem in Etiopia, Rado and Malala in Madagascar, Yusef, Ibrahim and ’The secret Mr X’ in Tripoli, Saltanat Kadyrkulova in Kyrgyzstan, Ben and Paul in Kinshasa, DRC, The Afghan Embassy in Bishkek, Sanu and Bakari in The Ivory Coas, Philip and Kelson in Vanuatu, Kenson and Mavis Kgaga in Botswana, Chuda in Tibet, Andrea in Namibia and Tekeste in Eritrea
- The travel agency Abercrombie and Kent especially Brett and Peter Graham for allowing us to last-minute board the MS Explorer for a superb cruise to Antarctica for the bargain price of just 1200 USD (for ten days)
- dk for the help with 3 of the hardest visas (Saudi, DRC, Pakistan)
- Local people we have stayed with (or have visited): Suleyman Susso (our sponsor child) and his family in Banjul, Gambia, The horse nomads of Bokonbaevo, Kyrgyzstan, Choukri Hrabi (Mohammed) in Algeria, Nana (in despite of everything) in San Francisco, Heliana in Bogotá, ‘Il Padre Rapido’ in San Salvador, The peasants in the houses on stilts at the foot of the mountain in Laos where we stayed when our slow boat on the Mekong River had engine problems, ’The Lebanese’ in Damascus who took us ‘belly dancing’ and Thomas ’the drug dealer from Liverpool’ who showed us the inside of the corrupt San Pedro prison in La Paz.
- The super interesting travellers I have met and interviewed along the way especially: Torbjørn ”Thor” Pedersen (Once Upon a Saga), Harry Mitsidis (Nomad Mania) , Johnny Ward (OneStep4Ward), Charlie Uldahl Christensen (Walking for Water), Henrik Jeppesen (Beyond Every Country) and Eric Nguyen (and the elusive William Baekeland who I for good reason never managed to meet..)
- Anyone who have followed me along the way 😊
- •• Please share, like, follow if you have liked my content. Thanks! 🤘 •••
From 1994 to 2019 I visited every 196 countries in the world (the 193 UN-countries plus The Vatican, Kosovo and Taiwan).
Along the way I have travelled more than 225.000 kilometer as surface transportation (bus, ferry, ship, slow boat, car, taxi, bush taxi, cycle rickshaw, motorbike, camel, elephant, horse, bicycle etc) that is about 5,6 times the circumference of the earth. Longest overland stretches without flight were: Antarctis to Equator, Equator to Alaska and Moscow to Bali.
🗺Map of all surface transportation: http://tiny.cc/i1ku9y
On average I have spent 10 days (8 days if my two longer stays in UK and Austria are not counted) in each of the almost 200 countries I have visited. Totally I have spent more than 5,5 years outside of Denmark. I have spent a minimum of 30 days in each of the most interesting countries: USA, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, China, India, Indonesia, Bolivia, Australia, Ethiopia and Namibia.
My total travel related spending over the past 30 years have been around 180.000 USD. That is about 900 USD pr country or about 6.000 USD pr year. 6.000 USD pr year corresponds to about 15USD pr day – about the price of two and half packs of cigarettes a day (DK pricing).
To date 214 people in history have visited every UN-country according to the well-researched list of Nomad Mania: https://nomadmania.com/unmasters/. Out of these 214 people 4 are Danes.
My own definition of a ‘Hobby traveller’ is one who pays for everything himself and has a non-travel related job. And ‘family traveller’ is defined as travelling with the family on most of the trips.
The most travelled person in Denmark is defined here as the Danish person who has visited every country and travelled the highest distance as surface transportation.
Using surface transportation and grouping countries together has also significantly reduced our carbon footprint. Surface transportation has been chosen both because it is better for the environment, because it is fun and you can look out the window along the way, because you get to meet many friendly locals and because I (especially in the beginning) have always been afraid of flying.
Most special experiences along the way: I have been detained by the military police in Conakry, Guinea, I survived a fatal bus accident in Venezuela and it was decided that I was to be deported from Tripoli, Libya (I narrowly escaped after I was saved by a militia leader after a miraculous coincidence). I have also travelled (with no problems whatsoever) with my kids in Somalia, Afghanistan and Sudan.
The most special ceremonies I have documented have been these:
- Witnessed a satanic ceremony of the devil worshipping Poro people in the northern Ivory Coast. The ceremony only takes place once every 7 years on a secret place and date. The Poros are infamous for killing people who counteract them. (Documented for Danish paper Jyllands-Posten – link to article in Danish: https://bit.ly/2y0oxMX )
- Documented the ‘Sapeurs’ of Kinshasa, DR Congo. The ‘dandys from the slum’ who buy secondhand designer clothes in vibrant colors and show them off in public on special occasions. (soon to be published by Jysk Fynske Medier)
- Camped with my family in the Omo-valley of Ethiopia in a village of blood drinking Mursi people. Witnessed several very special ceremonies such as ‘jugular vein’ and the secret and illegal ‘donga’ (stick fighting) ceremony. (Documented for Berlingske – link to article in Danish: https://bit.ly/2JX7bG9 )
Top-10 adventures: http://tiny.cc/25lu9y
Interviews with other travellers: http://tiny.cc/uimu9y
Best photos from 25 years of travelling: http://tiny.cc/x2c49y
Public speaking: New travelogue (in English) http://tiny.cc/4dldaz
Photos from every single country: http://tiny.cc/m6c49y
All my travel articles (in Danish): http://tiny.cc/p8c49y
Newspaper covers and spreads: http://tiny.cc/kyz59y
Top-10 hardest visas: http://tiny.cc/gad49y
My bucket list: http://tiny.cc/zfd49y