Feel free to share with other readers … my own notes are below.
Every year as part of the Annual Review, I look back on where I’ve been.
As usual, this year’s list is fairly long—though not as long as some previous years in terms of new countries. This year has been more of a clean-up mission, where I’ve visited a number of places that have eluded me over the previous few years.
In 2012 I made it to the following countries, in rough chronological order:
Tajikistan, Chad, Eritrea, Vanuatu, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Turkmenistan, Sudan, Republic of Congo, Yemen, Seychelles, Kiribati, Sao Tome, Guinea Bissau
Note: this is the list of new countries. I also visited 15+ countries I’ve been to before.
A Few Highlights
- Early in the year, I was officially deported from a country for the first time. (Readers then had a no-holds-barred debate over whether this trip should ‘count’ as an official visit. Fortunately, a large majority agreed that it should.)
- In May I went on the road to meet readers for The $100 Startup launch and first tour to 25 cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. (Later I went back out to 6 more U.S. cities, in addition to a U.K. launch in London and two reader meetups in Australia.)
- I ran the Chicago Marathon, then got on a plane the next night and flew to Australia—a long flight! Then I went to Kiribati, where I was stuck in makeshift exile after the Air Pacific plane failed to return from Fiji. I finally made it out and spent the night back in Sydney, probably my favorite city in the world… especially after being stuck on a tiny island.
- I also got stuck in the Seychelles, which led to an observation: when you’re stuck, it doesn’t matter if you’re in paradise—you’re still stuck. Eventually I made it out of there too and up to Barcelona, where I was speaking at an event.
- I visited Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, my final “stans” and both surprisingly fun places. Before I traveled in Central Asia, I was intimidated by it. Now that I’ve had several visits there, I’m much more comfortable in the region and hope to return at some point.
- Right after Thanksgiving, I went on a two-week tour of India with Jolie.
- I finally made it to Guinea Bissau, country #191 and the place I’ve been flummoxed by in several previous attempts. Like the Chicago Marathon, all’s well that ends well.
- Lastly, the way I travel began to change this year. I spoke at dozens of events and meetups, including invitations from Google, Evernote, and probably 15 different co-working spaces and small businesses throughout North America. It’s been fun to combine this kind of work with the more solitary travel I’ve done for years. As I look ahead to the future, I expect I’ll be doing this kind of travel more often.
Every Country in the World
I’m almost done! There are only two countries left! Next week I’m going to Tuvalu, and if all goes well there will be a small party in Norway next April. I don’t want to jinx it, so I’ll save my thoughts on the last final efforts for later.
For now: thanks to everyone who has been such a huge part of the journey for the past five (!) years.
Travel Hacking Around the World
Regular readers know that I pay for many of my trips through travel hacking—the art of using Frequent Flyer miles and other low-cost travel strategies to see the world on an affordable budget. A quick look at the earlier list of countries brings to mind a number of especially good opportunities. Miles allowed me to visit at least half of the new countries on my list. I also began a Round-the-World ticket from Sudan, which (at the time) offered the lowest price of origin anywhere in the world.
In addition, I benefited from elite status with American Airlines (equivalent to the OneWorld Emerald level) as well as Hyatt, Hilton, and Starwood hotels. Many of my transit flights came from miles on other carriers—two Upper Class flights on Virgin Atlantic, a First Class Qantas flight to Melbourne on the A380, and at least twenty other flights. It really does work!
Public Service Announcement
You can learn about travel hacking a number of ways, including reading the many free posts on AONC as well as other blogs that are more specialized on the topic. Alternatively, you can check out one of our paid resources:
Travel Hacking Cartel: where we’ve served nearly 15,000 members since beginning last year
Frequent Flyer Master: the original guide to travel hacking (a revised version is coming soon, which will be free to all current owners)
Even as the quest to “go everywhere” winds down, I hope to keep traveling and travel hacking for years to come.
That’s My Story … What About You?
Feel free to share your full or partial list of travel adventures.
By the way, don’t worry if your list of 2012 trips doesn’t include being deported or visiting 30 countries. I’ve been doing this a while.