Globetrotter sets new world record

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Graham Hughes at his last destination. Photo © Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin

A Liverpool man has ended his four-year world adventure and has become the first person ever to visit all 201 countries in the world – without using a plane.

Graham Hughes, 33, finished his globetrotting in Tuba, the capital of South Sudan, which didn’t even exist when he set off on his journey on New Year’s Day 2009.

Mr Hughes, from West Derby, had a budget of $100 a week and travelled between destinations by buses, cars, trains and his own two feet throughout the entire trip, meaning he created a new Guinness World Record.

Mr Hughes told JMU Journalism: “I always thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if you went to every single country in that way, without flying?’ It’s something I’ve taken with me since being a kid.

“Also, I can’t sing, I can’t dance, but I’m really good at travelling. I can sleep anywhere. It’s something I knew that I could do. I’ve set a Guinness World Record by pretty much just going round the world and getting drunk all the time.”

He added: “I was put in jail a couple of times in Africa. The lowest point was last year when I had to fly back to Liverpool because my sister was diagnosed with terminal cancer. By the time I got home she was already in a hospice and it was pretty aggressive. It’s not that I wanted to give up but I wanted someone else to be in charge of this.”

During his expedition, Mr Hughes has presented the TV show ‘Graham’s World’ for the National Geographic channel, documented his worldwide journey on his website ‘The Odyssey Expedition’, as well as raising money for charity WaterAid.

Even though he managed to blag a lift on a friendly cruise ship to the Dominican Republic, most of his long-haul journeys were made by getting lifts on cargo ships. He said highlights of the trip include befriending orangutans in Borneo and riding through the badlands of Kenya on an 18-wheel truck

Graham Hughes in West Africa © Just Giving/Odyssey Expedition

Speaking of the countries he has visited during the expedition, he said the tougher routes to negotiate were “where there were sometimes pirate threats”, like in the Maldives and the Seychelles. He also spent time in prison in Cape Verde after being mistaken for an  illegal immigrant and was jailed in the Congo where authorities thought he was a  spy.

Speaking to the Christian Science Monitor, he said: “’I love travel, and I guess my reason for doing it was I wanted to see if this could be done, by one person traveling on a shoestring. I think I also wanted to show that the world is not some big, scary place, but in fact is full of people who want to help you even if you are a stranger.”

Despite achieving his goal, he is still refusing to fly and will instead continue through Africa and across Europe before aiming to return to Liverpool by ferry in time to spend Christmas at home.

Additional reporting by Sophie Marsden

About Emma Callum, JMU Journalism