Is your resolution to see the world in 2023? Here are some tips from those who've done it

accreditation
Woman on a flight. (Photo: Getty Images)
Woman on a flight. (Photo: Getty Images)
  • Is your New Year's resolution to see the world?
  • Those you've done it say it's not easy, but also not impossible.
  • You have to be ready to give up a lot to have the trip of a lifetime.


According to Conde Nast Traveller, there are probably only 400 people throughout history to have visited every country in the world.

But with the rise of social media influencers, this number is growing rapidly - expert travellers documenting their every move on this insane bucket-list quest.

To you it might seem like a far-off dream that only the rich can achieve, but many have proved that it's possible if you've got the right attitude - not easy, but possible.

And everyone's chasing world record status - from the youngest to the fastest to being the first.

Others just want to complete it as a personal journey - no one can tell you you're doing it wrong.

But if you don't know where to start, here are the top tips from those who've done it with style.

Decide from the start what constitutes a country

You might think the number of countries in the world would be easy to know - but it all depends on who you're asking. The UN has 193 official members, but this number does not include Taiwan, Palestine and the Vatican City - all generally considered countries in their own right. 

Guinness World Records recognises 196 countries, while there are even more considerations when you think of countries like Tibet, Hong Kong and island dependencies. 

Decide on one list before you even start ticking off so that you will have an end-goal to work towards - although the UN list might be your easiest bet. 

Get support from the travel community

There are many online forums and social media groups filled with travellers focusing on completing the same quest as you - try to join a few where you can ask for advice and pick up tips.

Also follow anyone busy with their own quest - it will help with some much-needed motivation when the goal seems too big for you.

Then there are clubs you can join once you've ticked off a big number on your list. The Travellers' Century Club is the oldest - it has been around since 1954 - and you can join once you've hit 100 countries or more.

Others include Most Travelled People, whose list consists of 891 places like provinces and cities, while Nomad Mania's list covers 1 281 regions and they're intent on verifying travellers' claims, according to Conde Nast Traveller.

Budget even when you're not travelling

If you're serious about reaching your goal, you have to be prepared to make a lot of sacrifices. 

Lexie Alford - who completed her quest at the age of 21 - told Forbes: "I do a lot of research in advance to find the best deals, utilise points and miles for my flights, stay in cheap accommodation like hostels or create content for hotels in exchange for accommodation."

"I've also made sure to keep my monthly overhead as low as possible by living at home with my parents, I don't have a car payment or student debt and I don't spend my money on unnecessary material possessions."

It's also easier if you opt to put the breaks on your career while you pursue this travel lifestyle. Melissa Roy told Forbes she worked odd jobs in Hollywood in order to have a flexible schedule until she reached her goal. She adds it can be shocking how much money you save by just focusing on your needs instead of your wants. 

Get cracking on social media

Another way that a few people have completed their records is through sponsorships - and the best way to entice this added revenue is through a strong social media presence.

You can slowly start building a travel-focused account on platforms like Instagram, and while it will take a while quick campaigns and advertising deals can add up to help you take one trip at a time.

However, be prepared to foot everything yourself.

Think about your motivations

If you want to prove something, remember to keep a record of every trip. Cassandra De Pecol broke the Guinness record for visiting all sovereign countries in the fastest time and had to submit thousands of pieces of evidence to make her record official.

If the trip is more personal and you don't care about proving something, then it'll make your logistics a lot easier.

Be realistic about your time-frame

Michael Palin - who started travelling when he was 14 in 2004, took 13 years to visit every country in the world - you don't have to rush towards your goal, just travel the best way for you.

Also think about how much time you can spend in a country - three days in Paris still counts as much as two weeks in Thailand. 

Some countries have easier borders than others - you can hop over to neighbouring countries just for the day if possible.

But remember to know your visas back-to-front!

Ask for advice on visiting countries in conflict

The most difficult countries to visit will be ones at war or various other safety issues. Try to find people who have visited for advice and try to connect with someone living there that can show you how to navigate. You can also opt to book with tour operators - these countries will likely be your most expensive destinations.

For some countries with difficult borders like North Korea, you can look for easy access points like a Demilitarized Zone for day visits. 

Alford noted that she opted for very short stays (two or three days) in countries where she didn't feel completely safe by herself and where she couldn't secure proper security.  

Focus on people rather than attractions

Many of the travellers noted that it's more important to build connections with local people than focusing on a touristy itinerary. 

Roy told Forbes she opted for couchsurfing rather than Airbnb as it opened up more authentic experiences to her and closer connections with her hosts. 

These connections can also open up more options to visit other destinations - you'll learn to trust the kindness of strangers. 

Pick your last country carefully

Finally completing your goal can be an emotional moment - and you'd want to experience that in a country that might mean more to you than just another tick on a list.

For Roy, her final destination was her ancestral home in Bangladesh, which she visited with her mother - this of course made the completion of her journey that much more special. 


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE