Up for a challenge? This week we’re deep diving into the concept of visiting every country in the world – including spotlighting the courageous few that have actually done it and strategizing how it might possibly be completed. Buckle up – this is going to be a big one!
How Many Countries are There?
This looks like a simple question, but it’s deceptively tricky to answer. Previous people that have completed the “globetrotter challenge” have had different answers to this question and, as ever, it generally depends on your political worldview.
A country, loosely defined, is an area of land that is autonomously controlled by its own government. It’s also generally a place that self-defines as a “country”. Unfortunately, international parties often disagree or choose not to honour a region’s claims to sovereignty, making their “country status” invalidated in the international sphere. This is why regions such as Kosovo, Scotland and Catalonia are sometimes referred to as “countries” but often left off international lists of countries in the world.
Let’s take the most widely accepted number of countries in 2021, which is 195. This includes:
54 in Africa
48 in Asia
33 in South and Central America
14 in Oceania
2 in North America
44 in Europe.
Which are the Hardest Countries to Enter?
If you’re seriously up for the challenge, you’re going to have to consider the hardest points of your journey before you even begin. Sure, you can just hop over to New York, grab a “I heart NY” top and tick off America, but how will you fare when it comes to ticking off North Korea? Below, we’ve listed a few of the hardest countries to enter:
1. Equatorial Guinea – did you know that only foreigners with a US passport are allowed to enter Equatorial Guinea without a visa? It’s true, and fiendishly difficult for anyone outside of the US.
2. Afghanistan – like many places, entering an active war zone is difficult both in terms of personal safety and accessing visas. Your best bet is avoiding the big cities and entering for a few hours with a dedicated guide to a safer and more secluded part of the country
3. Libya – this is another country that does not offer tourist visas. Entering therefore will have to be through a business visa, which can be very expensive
4. Russia – Most people can get a tourist visa to Russia but be prepared for an insanely bureaucratic process. From biometric fingerprint scans to submitting millimetre for millimetre perfect passport photos – getting your visa for Russia is time consuming and very expensive
5. South Sudan – to enter this country, you need a formal invitation from a company (for a business visa – there are no tourist visas). Unless you happen to have contacts in Sudanese industry, this may prove difficult.
6. North Korea – you’ll be surprised, but getting into North Korea might actually prove to be one of the easier options. This is because the nation runs a pretty lucrative tourist industry taking fascinated visitors on day tours across the border (make of that what you will).
Which are the cheapest countries to enter?
Trying to budget a journey like this might be a difficult task. However, here are the countries where you’re least likely to run into problems financially.
1. Cambodia – legend tells that Cambodian beer is cheaper than water. Hostels cost an average of $3-5 a night and street food often costs less than a dollar. Sign me up!
2. Morocco – another country where hostels costs less than $5 (even in Marrakech) is Morocco. What’s more, transport between cities is equally affordable, allowing you to traverse the country without stretching the pursestrings.
3. El Salvador – with stunning landscapes, beaches and Mayan ruins, El Salvadore is both beautiful and budget-friendly.
4. Bolivia – if you hate cooking, why not move to a country like Bolivia, where eating out three meals a day can easily fit into your daily budget.
5. Poland – One of the cheapest countries in Europe, Poland is a fascinating place to visit. Stay in a hostel for less than $10 a night and enjoy eating out Polish-style in fabulously affordable restaurants.
Which are the most expensive countries to enter?
Let’s hope you enjoyed plenty of savings in the five cheap countries mentioned above, because here are the five most expensive countries in the world…
1. Japan – Seen those pictures of businessmen sleeping in cages in Tokyo? Well it’s no wonder, since renting a flat will cost you roughly $1400 a month.
2. Norway – Norwegians get paid high salaries, so the high cost of living tends to even out. For visitor’s however, there’s no escaping the eye-watering $9 for a beer…
3. Bermuda – It’s paradise on earth, so no wonder this tropical island comes with a hefty price tag. Beer costs a staggering $10 and rent averages at $2675 a month in the city.
4. Iceland – When you’ve got a place so remote, shipping is going to be an issue, and that cost is reflected in the price of practically anything you can buy. A flat in Reykjavik will cost you $1240 a month and $8 is common for a beer.
5. Denmark – Like Norway, high salaries cancel out the high cost of living in cities like Copenhagen. Not so for visitors!
Who has successfully completed every country in the world?
There are currently around 150 known people that have visited every country in the world, but there are sure to be many more. Some notable individuals include:
James Asquith – James Asquith holds the Guinness World Record for youngest person ever to visit every country in the world. At just 24 when he reached his final country, James took 5 years to travel the world, working as he went to sustain his adventures. Since then, he has gone on to write books and found HolidaySwap – a home swapping holiday service.
Jessica Nabongo – Ugandan-American travel blogger Jessica Nabongo is the first black woman to have travelled to every country in the world. Thanks to her work with the United Nations and her career as a travel influencer, Nabongo had already travelled to 60 countries by the age of 32. In 2016, she decided to go for the full list of 195, achieving it on October 6th 2019 by visiting her final destination – the Seychelles.
Things to Bear in Mind
With so many countries to visit, you’ll need to stay pretty organised in order to keep track of visas, Covid requirements, currency, time-zones, tipping and more. Download the Skratch app for easy access to key information about every country in the world – personalised to your passport and vaccination status!
Starting from Skratch? Here are a few tips to get you started: