24 and seen it all: British banker becomes youngest person to visit every country
Globetrotter scoops the world record for ticking 196 countries off the list
James Asquith, 24, spent five years travelling through as many nations as possible, from Argentina to Zimbabwe. He’s graced the distant shores of Vanuatu, met soldiers in North Korea, and seen Iceland’s floating icebergs.
His adventures were funded by working in bars and holiday jobs along the way, he says, and cost him the princely sum of £125,000.
Starting in Vietnam in 2008, James soon caught the travel bug. But it was not until he visited war-torn Egypt that the adrenaline really kicked in: he went to Libya three weeks after Gaddafi fell and Afghanistan two weeks after a terrorist bomb attack on Mazar-i-Sharif.
James spent longest in Africa, travelling for six months overland from Senegal to the Congo and through east Africa.
But James faced tough competition. The list of accepted countries varies, ranging from 196 to over 300. This summer British travel blogger Graham Hughes became the first to visit the 201 countries he recognised – without even stepping onto a plane. Travel writer Lee Abbamonte, in his early thirties, claims to be the youngest American to have visited every country, which he counts as 307.
So James hasn’t finished. He skipped Tahiti, Antarctica and Easter Island, which fall more vaguely under the category of overseas territories and disputed territories. Now working as a banker in the UK, James plans to add these to his list next year.