The Odyssey Expedition


The Odyssey Expedition is FIRST Official Guinness World Record™ attempt to visit every country in the world in one journey without flying. Nobody has ever attempted this before, many have told me that it can’t be done. But I’ve now been to over 195 countries, including every nation of The Americas, Europe, Asia, Australasia, The Pacific and all but one country of Africa.

I travel on my own. I organise my own travel, planning, logistics, I film everything myself, edit the YouTube videos, keep this site updated and write the blogs.

As far as I am concerned, it CAN be done and I am going to prove that it can be done. There is no precedent for this. I can’t refer to a single book or call up one person and ask them how to do it – I’m making it up as I go along, dealing with the best information I can lay my heads on and leaving myself completely at the mercy and good will of my fellow human beings from Timbuktu to Kathmandu.

The Big Idea

I’ve had the idea of doing The Odyssey Expedition around 8 years ago while I was backpacking around South East Asia. I had wanted to visit every country in the world since I was a kid and it excited me that I had the opportunity to visit off-the-beaten-track places like Bangladesh, Burma and Brunei – it dawned on me that with a British Passport, I could – if I tried hard enough – visits every single one of those weird and wonderful places. The only thing stopping me was the fact that several countries at that time were still at war. Wars which, I’m happy to say, are now over.

After clocking up a total of 70 countries on various backpacking adventures and fielding the idea of The Odyssey Expedition to people in the media, in 2008 I decided it was time to stop talking about it and DO IT. I managed to get a meeting with the head of television development in Lonely Planet – they liked the idea, and what’s more they thought that it was doable. The stage was set.

Preparations

Over the following six months I prepared as best I could for the journey, getting the necessary vaccinations, learning to sail (kinda), getting in touch with Eimskip to help me cross the Atlantic, arranging a mobile internet dongle with Vodafone so I could keep the website updated on the road and filming stuff for Lonely Planet of my ‘preparations’.

I contacted the good folk at Guinness World Records™ so we could be clear about the ‘rules’, and they requested that as well as not flying, I not drive myself or take private vehicles over large distances – they can’t support any kind of road race.

Truth be told though, there wasn’t much to prepare.  I travel fast and I travel light and most of this couldn’t be set-up in advance. Visas only last for a month or two, there was no way of knowing when cargo boats or private yachts will be leaving six months in the future. You can’t predict you’ll get thrown in an African jail or blag a ride on a cruise ship – you just don’t know. But as far as getting around overland is conserned, one late night with a large stack of Lonely Planet guidebooks was all I needed to consult. The world is surprisingly accessible!

With a British Passport you don’t need a pre-bought visa for hardly any country in the Americas or Europe and although the roads in Africa are pretty damn awful, you can always find some sort of public transport trundling along them.

Something else that is quite surprising is how cheap this is to do! If you’re registered on CouchSurfing your accommodation will be free, public transport in most countries is remarkably inexpensive (if you’re prepared to rough it) and you can feed yourself for just a couple of pounds if you know where to look.

An Earth Odyssey

What’s great about this adventure is having the opportunity to meet people from all over the world – people who live and love their respective countries. I love waking up somewhere new every day, I love not knowing what lies around the next corner, I love the thrill of the unknown and the tremendous sense of achievement as I break through these borders and see my map of the world filled in.  Most of all, I love the support and friendship offered to me by complete strangers – everywhere, from Antigua to Afghanistan.

I can also safely say that in the last fifteen months I have learnt more about the world than I did in fifteen years of schooling. Geography, history, politics, culture, language, film-making, writing, blogging… you name it, if I took the exam tomorrow I’d get an ‘A’.

Setting a brand new Guinness World Record™ for my travels in 2009 was a dream come true. There were times when I’ll admit it was hard to want to carry on, but there are literally hundreds of people who have gone out of their way to help me on this quest and it’s for them, not me, that I continue and will see this through to the very end.

And why do I want to go to every country in the world? Because this planet is ours. It’s the only home we have known and it is the only home we will ever know. For too long the powers that be have decreed where we can and cannot go on this spinning rock of ours, our Pale Blue Dot. Their time is over – after centuries of needless bloodshed, pretty much every country in the world is now finally open for business. Let’s go see ‘em!

Comments

16 Responses to “The Odyssey Expedition”
  1. Aldana says:

    would you be willing to coordinate someone who wants to travel around the world? even someone from another country? or advise, not including TV shows or advertising?

  2. Danielle says:

    You visited Somaliland, a breakaway state, why didn’t you visit similar states like Transnistria or South Ossetia?

  3. Respect man! It’s nice to see that there are more like minded people around the world! I managed to travel 954 days without plane, and eventually I had to give up because my health got worst. But the challenge is still not finished :)

  4. Rafael Batista says:

    Hi Graham.

    Its been a week or two that Im thinking about making a travel to every country in the world. So I just discover your website right now.

    I am 30 years old, living in Brazil and at the moment I am pursuing my PhD in biometeorology. My plan is to finish the PhD around 2016 and begin the trip in 2017. The main reason to do a trip like this is to known the world we live. We can die tomorrow just knowing our own country, our own culture, when there is so much to see, actually a whole world to see.

    So I have tons o questions for you. It would be nice if you keep in touch and answer some of them.

    To begin, I would like to know what route did you follow (I mean the sequence of countrys). I guess that this is important when you think in “spend less money as possible”, right? I know that you began in Uruguai ( pretty close to where I was born ), them you go to where? Is there some place where I can find your route?

  5. Pete says:

    You absolute saint. I got back from 6 months travelling last year from Russia to India and I just stumbled upon this website by accident; now I’m telling everyone about it. It’s always a pleasure to hear others talk about how good people can be to each other if they just have a little faith. Really cannot praise you enough good sir, and I hope your story and message keeps reaching people all over!

  6. Dan says:

    amazing.

  7. This is an incredible idea and a very inspiring way to travel. I just heard about your site from a friend and I want to wish you the best of luck with your project.

  8. NozOLeary says:

    Hope you are enjoying the opening ceremony mate. You are a select group who has been to most of the countries represented. Lucky git! All the best for the rest of the journey mate. All the best. Noz.

    • Graham says:

      Ha! I know… but nowhere was showing it here in Hikkaduwa last night, cos it didn’t start until 1.30am!! I’m currently downloading it… 0.6%, ETA 4 days, 3 hours!!

  9. Joseph says:

    Dear Graham,

    I’m 17, in Grade 12 and I live in the USA. I don’t know if I should go to college or travel the world. If I go to college, I feel like I’m going to waste money learning things that I can already learn on the Internet, but then if I don’t go to college, I feel like I’m going to have a difficult time finding a job.
    You said that you were given money by Lonely Planet, which is probably not going to happen to me. So…how do I get money to travel without flying and without going to college?
    Also, since I have a US passport, would I have trouble in certain countries, or is it pretty much the same with a UK passport?

    • Graham says:

      Hmm… that’s a tricky question. My advice would be this: the world isn’t going anywhere, so go to college if you’re able and once you graduate go travel the world. You don’t need to earn money ‘from travelling’ so to speak, better to earn money as you go working for instance, teaching English as a foreign language in South Korea or even fruit picking in Australia. You could work for 6 months (preferably in a nice hot foreign country with great food!), save your money and then travel for 6 months. I’ve met loads of people who do this and have no intention of ever stopping!!

  10. Rory says:

    Graham,

    I think your pretty awesome,

    At eightteen I really just want to go and explore around the world and think your trip and laid back attitude is inspirational.

    I have a couple of questions, how did you plan your route and how much did you plan before you set off? Would you do the trip again and have you any other plans since your journey is coming to an end?

    Good luck! Only three to go!

    Rory.

  11. Leah says:

    Well Sir, you have beat me to my own grand plan of visiting every country of the world… Oh well, I guess I have even more motivation to catch up with you now! :)

    Good luck on your travels, your story is amazingly inspiring!!! I hope my own “grand plan” works out as well and I will be able to go to every corner of this Earth as well! And blessed be Cassey for spamming those students when once stuck in Iceland (I’m sure you’d know what I’m referring to ;) ), for it’s making such journeys possible indeed!

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