After 14 months of waiting, Liverpool globetrotter Graham Hughes has finally been recognised by Guinness World Records for the achievement of being the first man to travel to every country on the planet without flying.
It was the biggest validation process officials at Guinness World Records have ever undertaken, having to go through 192 pages of passport stamps, 400 hours of video footage, more than 10,000 photos and over one million GPS data points.
Every bus, train and ferry journey, along with every single ride in a bush-taxi, had to be individually logged and proven to ensure that that Hughes had stepped in every country in the world – all 201 of them – without flying.
Guinness World Records’ verification process normally only takes around eight weeks.
Marco Frigatti, Senior Vice President of Records Management Team of Guinness World Records, said: “I can’t remember a more absorbing record to verify in years, it took a lot of time and effort to authenticate. Graham’s achievement is astonishing though, and it’s a pleasure to recognise his new Guinness World Records title.”
Guinness World Records also had to check that Graham had crossed an official border post into every country.
In January 2013, Guinness Worlds Records made an objection to his method of entry into Russia and Hughes had to return overland with a valid visa. On his first visit, Graham claimed the visa was too expensive so he entered the country across the river Narva which later got him arrested by the Estonian police.
West Derby man Graham told JMU Journalism: “It took me nearly as long to receive my certificate as it did to travel the world!
“The amount of data they required was stupendous – it wasn’t just photos and passport stamps, I had to provide hundreds of bus tickets and train tickets to prove I hadn’t driven myself or hitch-hiked at any point during my four-year journey. It was a good job I didn’t have anything nicked!”
Not only has he been rewarded a certificate for visiting every country without flying, Guinness World Records have granted Hughes another new record for ‘the fastest time to all countries by public surface transport’.
He told JMU Journalism: “There’s a part of me that wanted to prove it was possible to visit every country alone and on a shoestring budget. I wanted to show that the world is more accessible and safer than most people imagine – getting the thumbs up from Guinness World Records is, for me, the icing on the cake. It’s something I’ve strived for since day one of my adventure back in January 2009.”
Graham’s next challenge is to survive on Jinja island, off the coast of Panama after winning SOS Island’s $100,000 TV travel competition last year.