We did it! 11 years, 9 months a year on the road, 197 done and dusted, and done properly. No border hops, no airport transfers, no 1 hour trips. Integrity is everything, and traveling is more than counting countries, but that being said, I’m proud (and relieved!) to have finally finished. Thanks for the support, now on to bigger and better things! Johnny
I’d like to share my progress with you guys as I slowly move towards my goal of being the first Irishman to visit every country in the world as far as I know (197 countries in total, more of that in the FAQ below), and one of the youngest in history to do it, perhaps the youngest to do it officially! Not only that, I’ll be bucking the trend of actually traveling through these countries, over a space of ten years, not flying in and out as pretty much everyone else has done, bar one or two travel legends.
This list is in chronological order of where I’ve been, and where I think I’ll roughly be going next up until completion. I hope to finish towards the end of next year, 2016, in Autumn/Fall but it all depends on whether the last few difficult countries grant me a visa to visit. Wish me luck please!
There are some FAQs at the end, if you guys have any more questions let me know and I’ll add them at the bottom too 🙂
Right then, so here is a list of the countries I’ve visited so far, all 149/193 of them, and the ones I’ve yet to visit in the order that I think I’ll hit them.
The ٭ symbol means it’s not strictly a UN recognized country, but I went there anyway
Visited in Chronological order:
- Republic of Ireland
- The Netherlands
- South Korea
- The Philippines
- East Timor
- Sri Lanka
- South Africa
- North Korea
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Vatican City
- San Marino
- Czech Republic
- Papua New Guinea
- New Zealand
- Solomon Islands
- El Salvador
- Costa Rica
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Saint Lucia
- Antigua and Barbuda
- St Kitts and Nevis
- Dominican Republic
- South Sudan
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Republic of Congo
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Equatorial Guinea
- Central African Republic
- Ivory Coast
- Burkina Faso
- Sierra Leone
- Cape Verde
- Federated States of Micronesia
- Marshall islands
- Saudi Arabia
197 = 193 UN member states, + Palestine, Kosovo, Taiwan and the Vatican City
How many countries are there in the world?
Good question! There are a few different answers to this – the United Nations list, the FIFA list, the travellers century club list, but I’ve gone with the most internationally recognized list, ratified by the UN, plus Palestine, Taiwan, Kosovo and the Vatican City making 197 countries in total.
How Many People Have Visited Every Country In The World?
The last I heard, 91 people have done it, most of whom are older Americans who sold companies, got rich and then spent their retirement hunting a new goal. I’m hoping there will be a new breed of younger people doing it, building something as they go. People like Chris Guillabeau, Lee Abbamonte and Graham Hughes have all kinda done it too, and they were a big inspiration for me, but they count airport stopovers, or stepping one foot over a border, not getting visas and getting stamped in, or flying in, staying in an airport hotel and flying out as their travels. For me, I want to FEEL the country, and overlanding when I can so I can experience the place.
How long have you been doing this?
I started this goal way back in 2006, straight after leaving university. I stopped to teach English in Thailand, flirted with a ‘real job’ in Sydney, Australia for a year and partied a bit too hard in Bangkok once I started making money online, but other than that I’ve pretty much been on the road the whole time. Once done, it’ll have taken me the best part of a decade.
How long do you stay in each country to make it count?
I do this because I love travel, even nine years on, I still love it – crossing borders, new currencies, stressing about logistics, I’m addicted to it all. And although I may only stay a couple of days in the more dangerous countries – Burundi for example recently, historically I’ve spent a couple of weeks in each place. Now the countries are more obscure and become a little scarier, the time has reduced, but I do it for the travel, not for the box ticking.
I know a lot of people who have completed this goal look at it slightly differently than me. As I mentioned earlier Graham Hughes – the first guy to visit every country without flying or Lee Abbamonte – youngest American to visit every country – or Chris Guillabeau, one of my inspirations. Those guys went about it with a view to get in, get out, move on. Lee for example didn’t get get out of the plane and transitted through many, and spent less than an hour in lots of them. Graham counted physically stepping one foot over the border, taking a photo, and moving on. Chris didn’t make it to Eritrea, just the airport, and as a travel hacker he was more about fly in for a few hours, maybe a night, nice hotel and fly out again. I want adventure, I want crazy stories to tell my grandkids, and some crazier ones to tell in the bar. But all these guys, they helped me believe it was possible, and I’ll always, always be grateful for that. For me though, war zones aside, I like to try to ‘feel’ the country before leaving. It’s not a box ticking exercise for me.
Where possible I overland – Japan, to East Timor, Mexico to Argentina. China to Ireland, Cape Town to Cairo. It’s fun, I get to see the countries and it’s cheaper, but sometimes it’s not possible due to visa problems etc.
All that being said, I don’t really have rules as to what counts, but at the very least you’d have to get stamped in the country by their immigration, although it will be much cooler if I can actually travel throughout the country, or overland through it.
How much does it cost to travel to every country in the world?
Good question, and it’s the question I kept trying to find the answer to when I first started. I’ll calculate it properly when I finish but it’s in six figures for sure, USD. However, that’s not as dramatic as it sounds I’ve been doing this as a lifestyle for the best part of a decade, so this journey is not ‘a trip’ as much as it’s my life, so equally I guess I could ask how much did your life cost over the last nine years? Probably something similar to my travels, in fact probably more. Let’s say you can do it for somewhere between $100k to $500k, I love to do everything that’s on offer, so I’m probably around the middle of that mark. Also, now I get a lot of my activities and hotels sponsored by brands and agencies due to my blog, which has helped a lot. Another HUGE benefit of blogging!
How do you fund this? Do you have a sponsor? You come from a rich family? etc etc etc.
I started this trip when I was broke, and for the first five years I traveled on a ridiculously small budget, at one point spending around $2kUSD in five months of constant travel, chicken buses, sitting with goats, hitch hiking on cargo boat, riding on the top of trains.
I then started my blog, OneStep4Ward.com, and started to sell advertising on it. Once I realised how online marketing, and SEO work, I started a media company, Step4WardMedia.com, so I work as I travel and it’s worked out ok in the end. Combine that with the fact that I have a team of awesome people who work with me for my companies means I can keep traveling until I reach my goal.