Sunday, August 09, 2015

The Country Challenge is On - Are You In?

On Hebbelille, my brother's boat outside Florø, Norway. Photo: Øystein Garfors.
That I have travelled to every country in the world and written a book about it, was recently featured by Business Insider, Daily Mail, The LAD bible and a range of other media around the world. The first of those articles racked up 8 million hits alone; people are clearly interested, intrigued or disgusted. It is time for a little country run - join the #CountryChallenge!

The feedback has gone through the roof, most of it is positive, and it turns out that there are thousands of people that are collecting countries on one scale or another, although at many different paces, with different goals and using a range of strategies. I have properly visited every country, although relatively fast using just under 10 years. I still decided to throw in some crazy fast trips after finishing, including popping by 19 countries in 24 hours. It turns out that almost every avid traveller know how many countries they have been to - out of all the countries in the world (why 198 countries?). 

There are the "pros" that are very determined to travel "everywhere" and that actually have all 198 countries within reach. I proudly introduce Johnny Ward, Jonny Blair, Meg Jerrard, Melissa Roy, Torbjørn C. Pedersen, Jørn Bjørn Augestad, Stefan Roesch and Jessica Elliott. Not to forget, of course, my Norwegian friends and countrymen Tay-young Pak and Hans Petter Stølsvik. And I have forgotten many other ace candidates. I do apologize! Please get in touch, and I will list you here. 

I do nevertheless hereby challenge you all to take part - and to invite travellers that you know to do the same! Game is on.
#CountryChallenge #Visit198

And this is of course not only about me challenging some well-travelled people. Please feel free to join me in challenging or inviting yourself, friends, family-members, co-workers or that obnoxious neighbours of yours that you'd be happy to see a little bit less of.

Travel generates a mutual understanding like no other method known to mankind. In between individuals, cultures, nations, religions and faiths. I truly believe that this world will be a better place if more people travel, interact with each other and are open to thoughts different to your own. That can only lead to more respect, more friendship and more mutual smiles.

Scared of terror?
You mean you have been put off travelling by the countless terrorist attacks in way too many countries? Well, please do not be. Why terrorism should not stop you from travelling.

Some people travel a lot, but will not have the time, desire or possibility to visit EVERY country. You can still manage over 75%. Just don't leave out an entire inhabited continent (and you will have to visit Africa to manage this, the continent is home to 55 countries).
#CountryChallenge #Visit150 

There are a lot of people that are approaching a hundred countries. I dare you to reach 100! And to throw a big party when you have managed - you will then also just about have passed the half-way mark. Carina Nilles and Caroline Lupini, are you in?
#CountryChallenge #Visit100 

And, needless to say, many more have been to 21, 33 or 48 countries. Come on, you can do 50!
#CountryChallenge #Visit50

Are you one of those who have visited a single digit number of countries, 10 is within reach, consider yourself invited as well.
#CountryChallenge #Visit10

There are also many people that have never travelled. Perhaps out of choice, lack of funds or lack of initiative or interest. Have you or someone you know been to only one or two countries - go for lucky three. Challenged you are! 
#CountryChallenge #Visit3

You are regardless of your travelling ambitions hereby invited. And I'd love to hear about your challenges and the stories they will inevitably result in. To not to travel is to insult your own intellect.

And no, this is not about quantity over quality. This is about expanding your horizions, understanding the world, seeing and feeling cultural differences and escaping from the bubble that you have grown up within. This might help you realize that you do not live in the center of the universe and that people in other parts of the world don't even know anything about your home country, and that they also consider themselves the center of the universe. And why shouldn't they? Travelling is, in my opinion, the best way to learn about the world and yourself. Hence this challenge. So #Visit3, #Visit10, #Visit50, #Visit100 or #Visit198 but please, just leave your comfort zone.

You might also get the notion that you are extremely lucky to be able to travel abroad at all. A lot of people do not have enough to even provide for themselves or their family, let alone to set aside to foreign travels. Adrian Porras from Costa Rica recently wrote about his dream to travel in a guest post on