It took 1,458 flights and 1,117 buses and trains for Drew Binsky to reach his goal of traveling to every country in the world. And it did so in less than a decade. Jessica Nabongo also traveled to all 195 nations and became the first black woman to document this feat. Alford in the United Arab Emirates, where she also traveled with her parents as a child.
Alford wasn't originally trying to break a record; she was just an intrepid traveler. She wanted to push the limits of what she thought she could do with her life and see as much of the world as possible in the process. It wasn't until things started to get really difficult that she realized that she was inspiring the people around her, especially young women. Feeling that support meant that she couldn't give up when things got tough.
She was determined to show everyone that the world is not as scary as the media says it is and that there is kindness everywhere. The money she saved kept her going for the first year and a half of her trips. From there, she has been working as a travel consultant at her family's agency when she's at home in Nevada City, California, and also doing photography and blogging while she's traveling. She does a lot of research ahead of time to find the best deals, uses points and miles for her flights, stays in cheap accommodations such as hostels, or creates content for hotels in exchange for accommodation. Alford says the highlight of his travels was going to unexpected and often dangerous countries. The countries that have such a bad reputation that people dare not go are the places that arouse his curiosity.
He experienced much more kindness and natural beauty in places like Pakistan and Venezuela than he has ever found in typical tourist destinations. Going somewhere without expectations and being absolutely impressed by what you find there has been the most satisfying part of this project. She was the one who fought the most in West and Central Africa, due to difficult visas, poor infrastructure for tourism, language barriers and the high cost of traveling safely. There aren't many English-speaking flights, hotels or guides, so operators have the market completely cornered. Traveling around this area of the world thickened her skin more than anything else in her life. Some people criticized Cassie De Pecol, the quickest person to visit every country, for not experiencing each country deeply enough.
While Alford, 21, is likely to receive similar comments to achieve her goal so quickly and young in life, she is not worried. At the end of the day, we all prefer to travel in different ways. Some people prefer to spend months or years alone in a few countries and others want to have a source of samples of the world. No matter what you prefer, there will always be someone who disagrees. Alford says he took his time in most places.
He loves getting away from capitals, trying local food, photographing culture and nature and staying as long as he can afford. But there were countries where Alford felt uncomfortable traveling alone as a woman. To be honest, spending weeks in each country wasn't in his budget. The minimum amount of time he spent in a country was two to three days. South Sudan, Somalia, the Central African Republic, Mali, Chad and Papua New Guinea are some of the countries where he didn't spend much time because he didn't have the means for adequate security.
He would love to come back and explore more of them one day. He still feels like he's only scratched the surface of how much there is to see. Alford says he hasn't yet figured out his biggest takeaway from this whole experience. This is the question that will take him the longest to unpack. But these are some of the lessons he learned while traveling the world: do research ahead of time to find the best deals; use points and miles for flights; stay in cheap accommodations such as hostels; create content for hotels in exchange for accommodation; keep monthly overheads low; don't be afraid to go to unexpected places; be aware of security risks; don't worry about what other people think; take your time when possible; don't forget about hidden gems; and enjoy every moment. This is a tip that anyone can use, whether you are traveling the world or just want to go on a great vacation.