I’ve always loved the feeling of being out of my comfort zone in an unknown land. As a kid, I was fortunate enough to travel on family holidays to Europe and on school exchanges where I lived with host families in the UK, Belgium, France and Germany.
Now I am taking on the biggest challenge and adventure of my life: to be the youngest Spaniard ever to visit every country in the world. A few days ago I celebrated my 30th birthday in Bali. And you know what? I’ve never felt better!
Before embarking on this journey, I was working as the CFO for an oil and gas company. This had been my job for the last 3 years and I enjoyed managing our financial operation in a small branch in West Africa (you know me always traveling!) But something inside me wanted to keep exploring.
I started to tell my travel stories through Instagram under the handle @wanderreds. Red being my favourite colour of course! I’ve always been passionate about travel and visiting as many countries as possible, but it wasn’t until this year that I came to realise that I could actually accomplish my goal. For this, though, I needed a little extra push.
Funding the Dream to Visit Every Country in the World
I’m by no means a wealthy person. I didn’t inherit money or benefit from a large paycheck. Instead, I live frugally and save up every penny I can to travel more. I travel with my wife, family, friends and sometimes I go solo. I’ve always felt that travel is better shared with the people you love.
One of my first ever trips was with my high school friends to Norway and Sweden. I was determined to get out there and travel somewhere before that new phase in my life began. I was hooked and didn’t stop ever since. Every summer I took off with my buddies on a shoestring budget of less than €1,000!
Traveling the world is by no means cheap. Thankfully my Instagram account allows me to fund my travel dream. This comes in many ways. I work with brands that cut my travel bills (hotels, agencies, boards, etc.) and I also offer content creation and social media services. Flights are still a big cost though, especially to those exotic destinations!
130 Countries and Counting! The Quest to Reach 195
I expect to be at just over 130 countries by October of this year. I should get to the Caribbean and South America before next February, and then I’m planning West Africa and Central Africa. My goal is to finish visiting every country in the world by the end of 2019. But so many things can change when you travel, so we will see!
By far the most common question I get asked on Instagram is what country stood out as my favourite destination. It’s extremely hard to pick just one. My answer would be that my favourite country is not actually a country, it’s Tibet. I loved it. Japan would be the most complete destination and the one I’d go back to a thousand times. There is just so much to see and do there. Plus, it’s gorgeous in every season of the year.
In terms of being fully out of my comfort zone, so far, I’d have to say India was a real challenge. I backpacked on a shoestring, eating and drinking whatever I could. I spent less than 100 dollars in 11 days. No that’s not a typo! We ate where the locals did for around 20 cents a meal. Those dirt-cheap places took a toll on our bodies and I came back home with Typhus. I suffered for weeks until the doctors figured out what it was!
Other than this health issue, Somalia and Djibouti were logistically a bit difficult, and I could barely take photos anywhere without getting told off or threatened. My most cherished travel moment was probably looking over Victoria Falls at sunset or looking up to Mount Everest at midnight on a starry night. Those magical experiences will stay with me forever.
Being Free to Travel in your own Authentic Style
Although, the most enjoyable aspect of travel isn’t necessarily those singular experiences. I always say that I travel for the freedom. Leaving your comfort zone and just roaming with no sense of direction. I like to research the highlights of each destination, but other than that, I loosely plan around them and wander off to explore the area.
I don’t follow the typical must do’s, eateries, or shows I can’t miss at a certain city. I would much rather walk 20km per day up and down the alleys and avenues and get my own sense and feel of the place. Sometimes I open a Lonely Planet guide or Google the destination but often times it’s having no expectations about a place that leads to beautiful experiences.
The future of travel is really exciting as it’s starting to become one of the top priorities in peoples spending habits. Not only that, but since everyone around us is traveling more often, we tend to look for the next exotic experience out there. You have people visiting far flung destinations like Nigeria, with only 30 countries under their belt!
This tells us that people are skipping ahead to the untapped destinations because they are considering the usual ones too mainstream. Today, less than 100 people have visited every country in the world. I’m planning to finish at 31, and become the youngest Spaniard to visit every country. In 10 year’s time, I’m sure more than 5 times that figure would’ve accomplished the feat, and my record will have been crushed!
Why you Should Visit my Country, Spain
Spain is the second most important destination by number of visitors in the world, so it’s definitely no travel secret, and I’m not going to come here and surprise anybody. I’d say Spain is a great choice for a trip throughout the year.
You can hit historical medieval and roman cities in fall or spring, party islands like Ibiza or Mallorca in summer, visit the south or the Canaries for sun in winter, head to the Pyrenees for great skiing, visiting the north for great and diverse food, and just about everywhere will guarantee 300 days of sun a year and friendly smiling faces.
It’s also cheap compared to other neighbouring countries, and super super safe. I’d say that’s a bargain right there!