How to Go Everywhere


“I haven’t been everywhere yet, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

Over the past seven years, I’ve been traveling to everywhere: all 193 countries, and plenty of other places along the way.

The journey has been even more amazing than I expected. Over the next couple of months I’ll be on book tour in the U.S. and Canada, and I’m actually glad to be taking a break from seeing the world … because I’m not ready for it to end.

After trips earlier this year to Sudan, Turkmenistan, and the South Pacific, there are now only 8 countries left! Here’s the list:

Guinea Bissau
Sao Tome
Republic of Congo (Brazzaville)

The book tour will keep me on familiar ground for a while, but at the end of July I’ll be heading back out to visit these final countries. Next April we’ll be in Norway for the big finale—if you’d like to come along, put your name on this list. (Note: at this point we have no idea what’s happening or how we’ll manage it, but there WILL be a big party.)


I was going to write a long post explaining how to visit anywhere in the world. For example, here’s how you fly to such-and-such a place. Here’s how you get a visa. Don’t get the visa? Whatever. The worst thing that can happen is you get thrown in jail and never get out. (But this is unlikely.)

Maybe I’ll still do that, but for now, I think a few things are more important. At the top of the list is mentality, and the simple decision to take action. Here’s a common theme from would-be travelers that regularly arrives in my Inbox with many variations:

“Where should I start?”

And here’s a good answer for almost all the variations:

“Does it matter?”

You can continue this theme for related questions.

“What should I pack?”

Well, there are plenty of lists out there, but you could also say:

“Who cares? The less, the better.”

It even works well for troubleshooting:

“What if something goes wrong?”

It will probably be fine, but even if it isn’t:

“You’ll figure it out.”


We often feel paralyzed by choice and make no choice. But the thing is, no choice is a choice. If you’re not doing something about it, you’re doing something about it.

So if you too want to travel and you’re trying to make a choice, just choose. If you want to go somewhere, what’s stopping you? That’s right, nothing.

Everywhere you look, people are breaking down barriers. Married couples, people from different ethnic backgrounds, solo female travelers, seniors, and anyone you can think of—even people like you.

Stephanie Dodaro is walking 800 miles through California right now. The Vogel family cycled from Alaska to Argentina.

Steve Kamb recently exercised all over the world, using Frequent Flyer miles to travel for almost free. Stephanie Zito has been to more than 100 countries, many of them on her own.

So it seems it is possible, at least for most of us who are able to read this. Here are a few options.

Want to Serve?

Great. Start by reading up on ReliefWeb. Consider a trip with Habitat or a similar organization.

For a more in-depth commitment, apply to teach English for a year (host organizations will often cover your costs and pay a small stipend). Apply for the Peace Corps or similar opportunity in your own country.

Want to Learn?

Join the Semester at Sea. Study abroad. Apply for a Fulbright (U.S. citizens use them to study abroad, non-U.S. citizens use them to study or teach in the U.S.).

Of course, you can also learn on your own. Take a pilgrimage, a sabbatical, an escape-my-life, whatever you need to do.

Just Want to Travel?

That’s fine too. So hit the road! It’s not that complicated. Throw a dart at the map if you must.

You really can go everywhere—or at least, you can go anywhere.

How about you—where are you going next? Feel free to tell us here.


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  • KJ says:

    Your comments about choices was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thanks.

  • Erin says:

    Thank you for your continued inspiration, Chris! Since the start of the year, my husband and I have been to Honduras, Belize, Mexico, South Africa, the Netherlands, the Bahamas and have driven across the United States twice! We continue to love our adventure. Up next? Back to work in Yellowstone Country, and in the fall, a couple of weeks exploring from Amsterdam to France to Spain to Portugal and across the strait into Morocco!

  • Lori says:

    My husband and I traveled for nine months in New Zealand last year. SUCH a wonderful experience! Now we’re thinking of a campervan road trip for several months out west (the west coast of the US, that is).

  • Travis Hellstrom says:

    I love how you always keep it simple and just tell people to go for it. I joined Peace Corps and it changed my life. I couldn’t recommend it (or doing anything you really want to do) highly enough. : )

  • Tanner Colton says:

    Hey Chris, as always great stuff! Real quick I just wanted to say that I love how you always have a great mix of inspirational posts and useful tools all in one. For all us would-be emperors, its great motivation.

    As for where to go, my wife and I just actually made the decision to take most of next year away from everything and travel the world. We have been to Africa a lot to volunteer, India, parts of Europe, but want to make a lifestyle change. You have talked many times before about making the decision to act and then figuring out the rest. That is just what we are doing and it is going to happen!! Thanks for the great stuff Chris, good luck on the book tour, we’ll see you in Seattle!

  • Josh says:

    I was looking through your list and thinking… those are all countries I wouldn’t really want to visit. It seems many of them are countries that might be difficult to get into. But I’m curious how Norway has gone so long without any love?

  • Chris says:


    We saved Norway for the end on purpose… I didn’t want to end somewhere like Guinea Bissau.

  • Erica says:

    Love it. Next trip is the Philippines and hopefully Cambodia this June. First time to Southeast Asia! 🙂

  • Matt says:

    Your point about the paradox of choice hits home. With so many places to go, it’s daunting to know where to start. Like many others, I want to see EVERYTHING and live EVERYWHERE. So a few months ago, I decided to just choose…Starting this June, I’m focusing on slow traveling around Europe for 7 months. And South America, Asia, Africa, etc. are on the back burner.

  • Jodi Womack says:

    I just returned home from a week in Doha, Qatar after being part of the TEDxSummit for the TEDx organizers from around the world.

    Because I did volunteered to host a TEDx in my hometown, I was invited on this trip of a lifetime… And I took it!

    There are no guarantees. The best advise is to do more of what you love, more often. Those things lead to more of those things. And so on…

  • Rachel Denning says:

    We’re in Guatemala now (Panajachel). We’re liking it so much, we think we’ll stay for awhile (we drove here from Alaska, spending 4 months in Mexico, a month in Belize).

    Next we’ll head to El Salvador – along our journey from Alaska to Argentina. I love your goal of visiting every country in the world. Don’t know if we’ll make it that far, but we’ll take our (5) kids to as many countries as we can. 🙂

    Thanks for your inspiration!

  • Kimanzi Constable says:

    I had the privilege a couple of weeks ago to have gone to New York for the first time, the city was more then I could have dreamed of. I went to a conference for a fellow Portland resident (Brendon Burchard).

    The only other travel we have planned is our families move to Hawaii next year, can’t wait!

  • Nora says:

    Great note about Choice, Chris! I find the more choices are available, the easier it is for paralysis to set in.
    I wrote about this very thing myself.

  • Jeremy says:

    Such a great quote to start this post! Thanks for some of the links on this post, I’ll be sure to check them out.

    Also I love how you mention that if you want to travel just do it, its not complicated. This is so true, and I believe many people need to join in on this mentality, the world is at our fingertips.

    All you need to have is the desire, and the want to go see it!

  • Jodi Henderson says:

    This year I decided I would take 2 international trips and at least 1 domestic trip. I went to France & Belgium last month, will spend a weekend in Seattle next month and have a week in Germany in December. I’m already thinking ahead to next year and Norway would certainly be a goodie. 🙂 Unfortunately, I work for a company that doesn’t offer a lot of flexibility relative to time off. So we’ll see. Over the longer term, I’m working toward selling my house, paying off debt, saving money and starting my own business so I can have more freedom to travel. Fingers are crossed!

  • Roy Marvelous says:

    I think doing summer camps, working holiday visas, teaching English and working on cruise ships are great ways to break into traveling. But definitely agree Chris: choose something and act – you can improvise on the way. I left New Zealand to go traveling for 3-6 months. 8 years later, I’m still not done…

  • Ruth Terry says:

    Planning on being in Cameroon next year, with a visit to Sao Tome on the agenda. Maybe I’ll see you there!

  • Justin says:

    I threw the dart once. Ended up in China. It was easy and fantastic!

    Now planning on throwing many more darts with my kids.

    So many things to DO.

    Thanks Chris!

  • suki says:

    i’m hanging out with people i’m meeting through the internet in may, june, july, AND august.

  • Antonia Lo Giudice says:

    I have to say, reading your posts are like a boost of energy:) I started my journey traveling across South America last September in Buenos Aires. It was a major leap for me, quitting my job, selling all my belongings to discover different cultures. I have since lived in Chile for a few months, am currently in Ecuador and moving to Columbia for a few months next week. Coming from a society where I had all the conveniences, I have faced a few challenges along the way, each one has taught me so much. How to live with less (I do not miss any of the other stuff), being happy with the little things and rediscovering my true self. All this made me realize, I still have so much more to learn. I am loving the process, I know I will face more challenges, each one will bring me more knowledge.

  • David Durham says:

    Having lived 17 years of my life outside the US, my love for travel — let me clarify that: my love for other cultures (the travel part is a necessary evil) has only increased. Now that my wife and I live back in the States, we take great joy in exposing other Americans to other cultures. Hence the creation of World to the Wise cultural tours. Our second one is coming up in June!

  • David Durham says:

    PS – I hope your book tour brings you through Nashville again!

  • Reka says:

    HI Chris, just wanted to tell you the Africa Mercy will be in Conacry, Guinea from September this year, wait with your visit to Guinea B so you can come visit us and the ship! I’ve been to Benin 2 weeks ago checking on our agriculture program and adding Benin as country no. 87 to my collection. I am catching up with you! 🙂 Hope to see you in Guinea. Reka

  • Jo says:

    I have just sold my house,put my stuff (that’s what it is) into storage and I’m on my way. First to Vancouver and up to Alaska the cheapest way I can find, then across Canada by train.

    Meeting up with friend from 1960’s days in London England….yes I’m not young in body but am in mind… In Leamington and will wander around Ontario. I lived in Hull a long time ago.
    Down to Dallas one way or another as my son lives there. Then who knows where.

    We New Zealanders are inveterate travellers. Something to do with being a small country far from the rest of the world.
    I love reading your blog Chris. Always inspiring. I also am inspired by Nora the Professional Hobo. I found you through her. Safe and fun travels.

  • Barb says:

    I live in Vancouver and my son lives in London England so I am committed to seeing him every year. London is a great place to start and fly Easy Jet or Ryan Air to all sorts of places very cheaply. This fall we will fly from London to Marrakech and spend a few weeks exploring Morocco

  • David says:

    going to South America soon, first time in the southern hemisphere, thanks for the inspiration Chris!

  • John Lander says:

    So nice to see you’re finishing in Oslo. If I’m home I’d be happy to join you there. And if you want you can always take a train a couple of hours south to Gothenburg, you’re invited to stay at my place.

  • Tim says:

    TEDx/TED would be on my list.
    Next trip Byron->Melbourne for the Melb International Coffee Festival, but big ones….

    Belgium for the spring classics in 2013 or the Giro d’Italia (Italy/Switzerland/Monaco and maybe Sardinia/Corsica).

  • kanela says:

    Sao Tome is on the list too like all the lusophone countries Brasil for a year with UNEP to make a difference…Jordan has been the biggest surprise of the last year….a must go…

  • Sabrina says:

    Great post and words of wisdom as always! New Caledonia for me and then Cambodia and Vietnam later in the year. Can’t wait 🙂

  • Monique says:

    I’m going to Toronto next. I can’t wait to travel full-time!

  • Jeremy says:

    Currently on the first leg of 10 days in London, Dublin, and Paris. This is the first of what I’m sure will be many international trips.

    Chris–your point on being paralyzed by choice is dead on. I’ve always wanted to travel, but I felt overwhelmed by the options. Last fall I took a trip to the Grand Canyon because I found a very cheap ticket and just went for it. That was my first experience with solo travel, and I really enjoyed it.

    I’ve been collecting points and miles with no real goal in mind, and about two months ago I saw availability for three cities in Europe that fit my schedule, so I booked two tickets without letting myself think about it. I’m sure if I had waited to book, I wouldn’t have done it, but now I feel so LIBERATED.

    I will keep traveling, and for the time being, my travel schedule will be dictated by where I can go cheaply. Other than that, I can work out the details later.

  • Aleksei says:

    So finally we know which are the countries remaining!

    I am surprised that you wouldn’t pick Seychelles for last – it’s a true heaven on Earth.

    What a life!

  • Mitchell Roth says:

    Thanks for the Reliefweb tip! Always enjoy learning about new possibilities to give back.

    This year I am slowly traveling south from North Dakota through Central and South America. Destination is the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The first major adventure will be sea kayaking along the coast of Mexico, the gulf coast side. I’ve never kayaked, but it will truly be an adventure!

  • Benny says:

    But if you ended in Guinea Bissau, they’d probably throw you a parade. 🙂

  • Jean Burman says:

    Wow… this is timely. I am off to Europe to paint and write and just kick around the countryside for awhile. It sounds easy doesn’t it? But the butterflies in my tummy have set up camp and are currently pounding around on my insides busting to get out LOL

    I’m excited. But yes… taking the plunge required decisive action and the mindset to go anyway… whether you’re scared or not… whether you think you can… or not. Because in the end… what’s the downside? What have you got to lose… really? Nothing [and of course there is the small matter of my return ticket sitting at the bottom of your carry on luggage [somewhere] LOL]

    Thanks Chris… this was the nudge I needed to settle the butterflies somewhat 🙂

  • Jean Burman says:

    Oops… that should have read “at the bottom of MY carry on luggage somewhere”. Let’s face it… I’m in serious trouble if you have my return ticket (((chuckles)))

  • Butterfly Jewel says:

    Congratulations on your accomplishments and upcoming book release! This is a very encouraging article. There’s nothing holding me back from getting back on the road or across the skies again. It just takes action, making a choice. Thanks for sharing your stories!

  • Crystal says:


  • Sharon Olsommer says:

    About 7 years ago, I read Tales of a Female Nomad, about a middle aged woman who bagged it all to travel the world. I took an early retirement, taught in Kenya and all over Thailand, am now 60 years old teaching in Bangkok and loving it.

    I only wish I could convince others of the sense of empowerment I feel by traveling solo (female.)

    My advice to newbie travelers would be – “Baby steps.” I try to solve or understand or learn something new everyday. After a while you look back and wonder, why did I ever think that was a problem?

  • Tim says:

    I can’t beleive that of all the places you’ve gone to, there are a couple on the list of places that you haven’t been to, that I have; Norway and Kiribati.
    Opposites in every way.
    I hope you in enjoy the experience in Kiribati before it sinks.

  • Marian says:

    Your first suggestion: Does it matter? That resonates! My version of that is “Start anywhere”. I was taught that by a writing mentor and apply it to travel, writing and life. My next travel looks like it will be to all of the states where my son wants to trial for a US soccer college scholarship. A bit of an adventure from Australia.

  • Beverley Golden says:

    Stepping outside my comfort zone and going to Peru with a wonderful charitable org, to see and write about the work they do building self-sufficient communities. Then I’m off on an adventure of the unscripted kind with a healer and spiritual guide, letting the journey unfold as we go along.

    This post reminded me that it is easy to let whatever fears crop up, stop us from stepping in and doing it! All the best to all those who leap, trusting that the net will appear.

  • Brett Holt says:

    Great post! I agree that there are many ways to serve. My wife and I did the Peace Corps together and enjoyed a part of the world we never thought of previously.

  • Efrutik says:

    Germany and Berlin + Potsdam to be precise. Because I need a little bit of all of these “take a pilgrimage, a sabbatical, an escape-my-life, whatever you need to do.” Which I am hoping once the mind is at peace and cleared up a bit will turn into other things and open opportunities. Thank you for continuous support !

  • Vilma says:

    Weekend in Italy (from Norway)! 🙂

  • Josh says:

    I’m in the middle of a trip through SE Asia, currently in Singapore waiting for my flight to India. Apparently just missed Maneesh in Angkor. Next trip: Iceland-Sweden!

  • Olli Havel says:

    Thank you Chris for your inspiring newsletters^^ (was time so say that XD)

    By now I should study or work but after my gap year in brasil I decided to have another few gap years and started travelling without any pressure of time.

    I am actuallly travelling for more than 14 weeks and all in all spent about 350 euro.

    The first three month I hitch-hiked with a good friend of mine from Germany to south Portugal. Then I bought a cheap flight from Porto to Italy and went on alone. Right now I’m in Italy and on the 6th of may I have another low cost flight to Greece. I always stay at couchsurfer’s places or camp somewhere and usually use hitch-hiking to get to the next place. If you like you can have a look at my website for lot’s of pictures and stories…you also find informations about low-budget travelling and hopefully some extra motivation to go for your own adventures.
    Good luck for your travels

  • carolina says:

    I’m hoping to make a solo trip to Nepal this year to teach English and I’M SO EXCITED AND NERVOUS 🙂

  • Jeanne @soultravelers3 says:

    So true Chris!! My only advice is take your family with you if you have kids..the best possible education in the world. 😉 We’ve traveled the world non-stop as a family for the last 6 years & still loving it!! Priceless!

    “Traveling in the company of those we love is home in motion” – Hunt

  • Stephanie - The Travel Chica says:

    Great post! My next destination is home because I’ve been on the road for 1.5 years. Amazing to think it has been that long.

  • AndHeDrew says:

    Yes, mentality is really important. For many people, traveling just seems like too big of a risk to attempt: instead of an adventure, they see everything that could go wrong.

  • Andrea says:

    In exactly 18 days my husband I will be on a plane to Italy. We live in Toronto, and this is a trip I have wanted to do for years. We finally got the opportunity to do it (after pulling ourselves out from a devastating year of unemployment). Funny enough, the timing couldn’t be better. Things are getting a little stressful around the workplace again, and a long break is exactly what is needed right now. Funny how things work out when you take a chance.

  • Stuart says:

    Great post as usual. I’m leaving for 3 weeks in Turkey a week from now and already planning my next trip.

  • Adam Costa says:

    Without a doubt the best post on travel planning, ever.

    But planning does serve an important function.

    Planning is similar to “dreaming”. As I sit here in Ecuador there is a giant map of South America, marked up with my alleged route.

    However, these “plans” change daily, so as a tool to actually get somewhere they fail… but dreaming is often the fuel which drives the “doing”.

    Congratulations on closing in on your goal. I just discovered your blog and really dig where you’re coming from (and going).



    P.S. – Strangely enough, I just finished an eBook for Vagabondish called “How to Travel Everywhere” too… and you cut straight to the heart of the matter in a single blog post 😉

  • Pamela P says:

    I am getting up to the Colorado Mountains this weekend to finish a very important manuscript (mine.)

    After that it will be a road trip through the American Southwest with my dad. He is retracing a road trip he made with his parents 50 years ago.

    And I recently got back from France…I took that trip using frequent flyer miles.

  • Drew says:

    A bit out of necessity, I had to figure out how to move about so as to take advantages of opportunities in nine different cities in six different states in the last three years, and all while at the poverty line or lower. I realized that if I could make that happen on virtually no resources, then I can go anywhere I want to with the average person’s resources. So last Christmas, I visited 21 states by train, and this weekend I’m climbing aboard to see another four!

    Mentality has made all of the difference in the world – thanks for putting it so concisely, Chris. And best wishes on the road! Hope to get to see you in Atlanta next month for the book tour!

  • Mónia Camacho says:

    About travelling the writer José Saramago wrote some lines that I will try to translate:
    The journey/travel never ends. Only travellers do. And even these can be preserved in memories, in a story. When the traveller sat on the beach in sand he said: “There is nothing else to see”, but he knew it was not true. The end of a journey/travel is the beginning of another. It is necessary to see what haven’t been seen, see again what we have seen, see in Spring what we only saw in Summer, see in day light what we only saw at night, see with sun what we saw with rain, see the harvest while green, the fruit when it is mature, the stone that changed place, the shadow that was not here. It is necessary to go back to the steps once taken, to repeat them, or simply start new ones from there. It is necessary to start the jouney. Always”.

    This is my concept of travelling. For me it is not important that i see all the countries in the world, but simply that every place that i go to allows me to experience things and by that experience becomes a little part of my personal history and life. And although i always prefer new places to go, i found out the same place can give us different experiences.

  • Alexa Meisler says:

    I never realized fully that traveling can involve many things including helping people. This post is certainly an eye-opener.

    “I haven’t been everywhere yet, but it’s on my list.” -Susan Sontag

    The quote really got me because I feel the exact same way.

  • Astrid says:

    I think it is hillarious that Norway is THE LAST place on earth you are going to visit!



  • Erik says:

    How could you have not gone to Norway by now?? Saving the best for last, I hope 🙂

    It’s beautiful!!! You’ll love it!

  • EJ Juen Jr says:

    Wow! You just a few more left in your list and you’re done. I hope NASA will sponsor you and help you get to the moon as well as a bonus. 🙂

  • Katherine says:

    Voy a Espana!

  • Janice says:

    I want to go everywhere and see everything and be there to help people!
    I’m off to Cambodia in February to teach children for a few weeks and then to Europe this summer!
    I like that you encouraged people to just go for it–everyone should.

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