Eric Thanh Nam Nguyen entered Eritrea this morning, becoming the youngest person to to visit every country in the world. Eric is 24 years and 175 days old.
The son of Vietnamese refugees to the United States, Eric deferred the start of medical school to finish his quest.
Journalist Jakob Øster has an excellent introductory piece on Eric.
Gunnar Garfors, himself a holder of travel records, is an inspiration to Eric and has the first word and photos from Eric out of his final country, Eritrea. Eritrea is one of the most closed off countries in the world, with limited, censored and very slow internet access.
To gain a flavor of Eric’s extreme read World Record Chaser: – I am kind of stuck in Yemen, also by Mr. Garfors. En route to Eritrea from Venezuela, Eric toured Mogadishu. Eric is not an airport transit traveler. He goes all in.
Travel Records and Those Who Chase Them
Ms. Elliott also explores the recent publicity machine around reality TV performer Cassie DePecol’s effort to become the fastest person to travel to every country. Ms. DePecol’s disingenuous claims to be first ‘documented’ women to travel to every country, using criteria and verification known only to her, are a matter I had something to say about as well. Check out the Counting Countries interview with Audrey Walsworth, one of the pioneering women who preceded Ms. DePecol:
Eric’s journey did not come with a sponsorship machine attached. His future plans involve medical school and possibly combining his love of the world and medicine with an organization such as Doctors Without Borders or the United Nations.
Not the Stereotype
Country Collecting can appear the preserve of rich country white men. In reality, there are people of all backgrounds chasing every country in the world. Each traveler has their own experience shaped in ways by their appearance and their passport.
Eric is a particular inspiration to those who see some of themselves in him. His honest reporting of his travels is an education for us all. For instance, attempting to get on a boat to Socotra, Yemen:
Country Collecting and Extreme Travel
I run a facebook group called Every Passport Stamp that welcomes all who dream of traveling everywhere. We share travel news and tips from around world. Whether you’ve been to one country or them all, we welcome those who share a passion for travel and learning.