Q: Do you travel alone?
Yes. Most of my travels have been alone. I would estimate between 90 and 95% of the trips I’ve taken have been alone. There are pros and cons to travelling alone, but generally, I prefer travelling alone unless the company is great. I hope to someday be traveling with a girlfriend and I am sure that could be far better than travelling alone, but I have on the other hand also been on trips where I couldn’t wait to be alone again. Conclusion, if the company is great, I prefer sharing travel experiences with other people, but if it’s online average or bad, I would much rather travel alone.
I like the freedom of travelling alone where you can decide everything yourself to your liking, but on the other hands I have also dealt with loneliness several times and it can be tough, especially far away from home. It can also feel stressful if you feel the loneliness with many weeks left on a particular trip. Maybe it is one of the reasons, I have lately had a more flexible schedule and several times not known my return date to Denmark as I would only buy a ticket home some time into a trip. I much prefer this way to travel as many things can happen on a trip, and I love the flexibility, it just adds to the same feeling of freedom I have when I travel alone.
Fortunately, I have rarely feel the loneliness anymore when I travel. Maybe I’ve tried it many times and just gotten use to it, or maybe I have learned tricks on how to handle it. Having meetings with locals where you can have longer conversations certainly helps, but for me, it also helps to do trips where I move fast between destinations and maximize my time, instead of relaxing trips with long visits to each destination. Example, the loneliest trip I have been on was when I went alone to Mallorca for a week at the age of 17 where I stayed at the same hotel for an entire week. It would have been better I had stayed at several places around the island or had done just three days on Mallorca being out of the hotel all day exploring. Another thing worth mentioning is the much-improved connectivity when travelling, where you can be online 24 hours a day in many destinations around the world. It certainly helps a lot to have a nice chat with a good friend or loved one when you are on a long, tough bus journey instead of thinking about how much you miss them, and wonder how they are doing.
I can highly recommend to do research about what sim cards that would be best for you and the trips you plan on taking, as it can definitely make long trips a lot more enjoyable in my opinion. When I started travelling alone, I often got lost, but nowadays I often have data, or have access to an offline map, making my trips much more enjoyable than the many days I have been frustrated and lost in the past.
Q: Where are you from?
I am from Denmark. I grew up in the Thy-district of Northwestern Jutland, where Denmark later got its first national park, called National Park Thy. My parents house are located just over a mile from the National Park and it’s a place I still consider home. It’s also been my “base” between trips in my journey to every country in the world. I love Thy. I especially feel the love for it, when I am back home after a long trip. I have met many people that have visited Denmark, but almost all of them have only been to Copenhagen and I don’t recall any that have been to Thy. That is a shame as it’s a stunning place. The national park is the main attraction and spans a massive 55 km (34 mi) north to south and 5–12 km (3.1–7.5 mi) east to west. I would highly recommend anyone to visit, but it is unfortunately quite remote by Danish standards. The nearest international airport, Aalborg, is approximately 87 kilometers from Thisted (the main town of Thy), and there is no highway so you can expect to drive for more than an hour to reach Thisted. I can understand why many people decide to spend all their time in Denmark by just visiting Copenhagen. It is a great city and it has a lot to offer, but my point is that Denmark is a lot more than just that. For example, all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Denmark, are as of 2019, all located outside our capital. Back to Thy. The big downside for me is that there is not a lot of interest for me going on, so it’s mostly a place to spend time with family and friends, watch my favourite football team (Thisted FC) and enjoy the nature. I might end up living in Thy permanently, but I am sure I would need to still include a lot of travel in my life to not be get big issues with boredom. Like anywhere else, there is a big difference between visiting a place and living in a place.
Q: What is your next project?
After visiting every country in the world, I decided to focus more on travelling more in some of my favourite countries. I spent a lot of time in countries like South Africa, the Maldives, the Seychelles, the Netherlands and France between 2016 and 2019. In South Africa, I have been to all provinces, and in the Maldives, I have been to approximately 60 islands. I also decided to continue my attempt to complete the Travelers´ Century Club’s list of countries, territories and unique destinations. As of 2019, I have 27 left on their list. Lately, I have started focusing on Nomad Mania’s master list that divides the world into 1,281 world regions as I felt it would be a great challenge and a challenge that I might never be able to complete. A country can feel a lot different depending on the destination you visit. For example, Alaska is a different experience than New York City, Bali is a different experience than Jakarta, and the French Basque Country is something completely different than visiting Paris. There are destinations on the Nomad Mania master list I don’t know if I will ever be able to visit, like some of the islands in Antarctica that might be too expensive for me, or too difficult logistically. My priorities in life might also change, and I might not be interested in spending the time required by boat to reach some of the difficult places that can’t be reached by plane. In the end, I travel for myself and for my enjoyment, not because of a list, but that being said, the Nomad Mania list is a big inspiration in finding new places to visit, and new sights to experience. Maybe I will be satisfied with a lot less than the current 1,281 world regions. Perhaps the main reason I continue to travel a lot is that I am not satisfied with what I have seen of the planet yet, and only by keep exploring I can perhaps one day reach satisfaction.
Q: How long do you spend in each country?
It depends on many factors. Including domestic travel, I estimate I have travelled for approximately 2,500 days in my journey to every country in the world. In some countries, I have spent months, but many have been less than a week. There are many reasons for this. Size of the country, cost, planning, logistics, amount of things to do and see. An example is the country of Kiribati in the Pacific where I was planning on spending a night, but as I waited too long to request an award ticket out of the country, I ended up spending eight days instead. It included a night in a tent and some nights on a couch in the room of an American tourist I met. There is also a difference between seeing and experiencing a country. The tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru can be seen in just a few hours, but to experience it and understand their culture you would need a lot more than that.
Q: What are your favourite countries?
It’s such a difficult question to answer. I love many countries for different reasons. Italy and France for the food. South Africa has a lot to offer for travellers while Iran probably has the friendliest people in the world.
Window seat. Very important for me on long flights.
Although I have been to every country, there are still many destinations in the world I haven’t been. Many places in the countryside of Europe are places I dream of visiting plus far away islands like Pitcairn Island and Niue.
Fine dining by far. With food, I feel you pretty much get what you pay. The Michelin-starred restaurants have those stars for a reason.
Q: Favourite cuisine?
Italian and French.
Q: When and why did you make the decision to visit every country in the world?
Just after reaching 100 countries. It’s a process. First I wanted to do 50 countries, then 100 and then I felt comfortable doing them all. Why? I think because I could. I had the chance to visit every country, and I love travelling. It was probably not on my mind as I thought of it as being unrealistic, then when I realised I can actually do them all both safety and financial-wise, I decided to go for it.
Q: How much planning did you do beforehand?
A journey to every country in the world takes many, many trips. I do a lot of planning before each trip. Especially the ones where there are security concerns and/or visa requirements.
Q: What was the first and the last country that you visited?
The first was obviously Denmark as I was born here. The first country outside Denmark must have been Germany. The last country I visited was Eritrea on April 1st, 2016. Eritrea is number one on the list of countries with least amount of press freedom. North Korea is number two. That gives you an idea about what kind of country it is. It is actually pleasant to visit for a traveller, and I actually enjoyed my final country.
Q: How much money was required? Did you constantly travel or work in between?
Constantly. I would say an average of 20-25 dollars a day in a period of around 2,500 days of travel. That’s around 75,000-80,000 dollars. It would have been way more expensive to have stayed back in Denmark where it’s almost impossible to live on 20-25 dollars a day.
Q: Was has been the most difficult part of the challenge?
The most difficult part was Africa by far. Difficult visas, bad infrastructure, pollution, dusty roads, corruption and safety concern. Also, visiting Syria during the war was a big challenge.
Q: How long do you keep your visits to?
I have travelled for months in many countries, but some just a few days. Like Libya recently. For security reasons, I was just there for three days.
Q: You must’ve visited some dangerous places?
I would say the most dangerous was Syria because of the war. It was a surreal experience visiting it and was told I was the only tourist there. A many months process to get the visa, but even with the visa, it was hard to get in as the border staff had a hard time believing I was there as a tourist. With Libya, many of their embassies refused to help me, but got in with help from the responsible of foreign press and even met the Prime Minister in Tripoli. Other so-called dangerous places would include places like the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq and probably more could be considered dangerous.
Q: Best tips for travelling on a budget?
Stay with the local people for free through Couchsurfing and book lots of low-cost flights and bus tickets when there are promotions. Sign up for their newsletters and follow them on social media.
Q: What is your next travel plan?
My next adventures include an attempt to visit every territory in the world, every American state and focus more on countryside travel than cities.
Q: How do you make money as a full-time travel writer/blogger?
In addition to the income generated from my blog and social media accounts, I also make money from giving lectures about my globetrotting experiences, consulting and planning trips for other travellers wanting to visit remote or hard-to-access countries.
Q: Why did you choose to travel?
Every experience I’ve had is much more valuable than anything I could buy. I don’t collect things. I collect experiences.
Q: How did the travels all start. Where was the first place you went too?
I did not travel much as a child but decided to travel the world despite the lack of experience. I went alone to Egypt and South East Asia when I was 17.
Q: What made you want to travel?
Watching TV about the different countries around the world. Then I set a goal of visiting 50 countries and then 100 countries. I decided to go for all of them as I became more comfortable travelling.
Q: What country left the biggest impression on you?
There are many, but Rwanda would be one of them. I had very low expectations, but it’s a surprisingly great country that feels well organised. In that part of the world you normally have a bad infrastructure and a lot of problems to deal with as a traveller, but not in Rwanda. It’s such a beautiful country as well. Paying 5 dollars for a bus ticket across the country is one of the best things you can do.
Q: How do you finance the trips?
I looked at every single spending. Staying with locals. Eating cheap food at supermarkets often instead of restaurants. Hitchhiking (more than 1,000 times) or local buses instead of taxis whenever possible. Hotel points and air miles helps as well. On many days I spent less than 5 dollars. It’s much cheaper to visit every country in the world than people think, but you must be willing to live like a local on a budget, not like a tourist.
Q: Which three countries would you NOT recommend?
Central African Republic, Libya and Syria as they are dangerous at the moment. Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic, is very dangerous, dusty and dirty. I was advised not to walk the streets but did anyway as I wanted to see things. Many soldiers tried to stop me before some actually did and it was a nightmare getting out of the situation. They make stupid claims that you have to pay to walk the streets or that your documents are not in order. They will do whatever they can to make money. Having visited every country in Africa, I have learned a few tricks and always been able to get out of the situations.
Q: Which country was the hardest one to get to?
Syria and Libya because of the current situation. Saudi Arabia and Equatorial Guinea are very difficult as well. In Saudi Arabia, there is no tourist visa as such, and you need to do business to get in unless you are lucky to get a transit visa that allows you some hours. I managed to get Radisson Blu to host my visit and had a very nice experience in one of the most difficult countries to visit. Equatorial Guinea is a fantastic travel destination, but it’s a nightmare to get a visa. I wasted a lot of time at their embassies in Pretoria (South Africa) and Libreville (Gabon) before I finally got it the visa in Lagos (Nigeria) by explaining my project in greater details.
Q: What was the most frightening situation you’ve experienced?
My driver went to prison in South Sudan for taking a photo of me in front of a building. They wanted to throw me into prison as well, but after they checked my camera, they let me go.
Q: What surprised you the most about travelling to every country?
That the world is actually a very hospitable place with friendly people everywhere. It is surprisingly easy to travel the world today, and I want to inspire people to do it.
Q: What has been your biggest mistake on the road?
Trying local cuisines. I’ve been sick from food many times. Food poisoning several times. The worst was in the Andaman Islands (India). Around six months with constant problems afterwards. If there is no food around I feel comfortable eating, I rather just eat fruit or nothing at all. It’s been very hard having these problems on the road, and I’m terrified of getting food poisoning again.
Q: Which piece of advice do you want to give to other travellers on a budget?
There are many, but try to be smart about how you spend your money so that you can travel more. Don’t spend money on taxis: hitchhike or take the bus. Fly low-cost airlines when they have promotions. Get and use fly miles. Eat cheaply at supermarkets. Stay with local people.
Q: After visiting every country in the world what’s next for you? I am trying to visit all territories in the world as well and set a new world record. That is 327 countries, territories and unique destinations total defined by the Traveler’s Century Club. That is the ultimate travel goal for me, but it will not be easy. It is a lot more difficult than “just” visited every country. It includes remote parts of the world and uninhabited islands that are very hard to get to. Recently I have decided to also have Nomad Mania’s list of 1,281 world regions as a new goal.
Q: When travelling that much, is it possible to have a private life?
It’s sadly one of the things I have to delay. I want wife and kids someday, but right now my life is about travel and building my brand.