Me, myself and I.
Hello and welcome! My name is Gunnar Garfors and I would really like to get you keen or keener on travelling.
Why on Earth? Well, I am a globetrotter, and seeing the world has opened my eyes in so many ways that I would like to inspire others to do the same, or at least travel more. I entered the 198th and last country, Cape Verde, on May 8, 2013, as a 37 year-and-344-days-old. That apparantly still make me the youngest person to visit all the countries of the world while working full-time. Or as a hobby traveller.
I have encountered people, places and situations you can only dream of – unless you go out there and travel yourself. It may be needless to say, but I am particularly fond of places less travelled. And there are a few of those among the 198 countries out there.
I like to say that travelling is in my blood. Sort of, at least. I was inspired to explore the world at age 4, when my dad was working on cruise ship in the Pacific Ocean. My mother lived in in Naustdal, a small village on the Norwegian West Coast with my mother and my brother. I couldn’t read, so he recorded these amazing tales on audio cassette tapes and sent home in those characteristic and easily recognizable air mail envelopes. My brother and I ran to the mailbox every day to check for a new envelope with new stories inside, but they only arrived twice a month or so. And on those lucky days we sprinted back to our house, inserted the cassette into the cassette player on the kitchen bench and pressed play. Rarely have the eyes of little boys been bigger and bluer. We listened in awe. And I promised myself that I would travel like my dad when I grew up.
Now, after having visited every country in the world I realize that I am extremely lucky. Most people on this planet will never even leave their own home country, let alone board an aircraft. And every time I travel, I try to keep this fact in mind. Because it is important. Those of us that are able to travel are in fact very fortunate. We are the ones that can experience and explore foreign cultures, meet and befriend people from other backgrounds on their own turf as well as see, feel, smell and take in the atmospheres of other regions, countries and continents. A lot of others cannot, but that doesn’t mean that they do not want to. And please be humble about it, arrogance might go a long way in the boardroom, but not on the road. My top travel tips is a rather simple one. Smile a lot. It invites friendships and lowers barriers like nothing else. And it is even free.
In the end I ended up visiting every country in the world, and wrote a book about it: How I Ran Out of Countries*. The year before I visited 5 countries on 5 continents in just one day, and set a Guinness World Record. And I must admit that setting travel world records intrigued and thrilled me. Two friends and I later popped by 19 countries in 24 hours and 22 US states in the same time. Not even the Norwegian or English counties were safe from restless visitors.
Professionally I am President of an international radio and TV organization and Advisor on distribution matters for Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. And semi-professionally I occasionally write about travel for various publications, perhaps most notably The Guardian and Business Insider.
I was born in Hammerfest in Norway on May 29, 1975. It was snowing at the time. My dad, Reidar Garfors, is a retired medical doctor while my mom, Ruth Berit Stensletten Garfors, is a retired teacher – who now runs her own food company that deals in 100 % natural ingredients she has picked herself. I have three brothers, three sisters and a half sister.
And finally, I grew up in Havøysund, Dublin, Førde and Naustdal. Plus one year as an exchange student in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, three years studying in Falmouth, England and shorter stints in Copenhagen, Taipei and Washington D.C.
I hope that you may find some inspiration on this site. Not just when it comes to where to travel, perhaps more importantly on how to travel. It is no secret that I encourage people to travel independently and to not engage in copycat or plagierised tourism. By that I mean to use guidebooks with care, and rather seek your own experiences, on your own or with someone worth sharing with.
Do you want to come along for the rides? Please sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. I am looking forward to hear from you and hopefully be able to share travel experiences.