Gunnar Garfors has crammed more than a lifetime of travels in just 37 years.
After visiting Cape Verde, the nation off the northwest coast of African, in 2013, Garfors because one of the youngest people in the world to travel all 198 countries (193 U.N. members including the Vatican, Kosovo, Palestine, Western Sahara and Taiwan) in the world.
The Norwegian native says that his very first international trip was to Greece when he was just one year old. He might not remember anything from that inaugural journey but he's had the travel bug for years.
As the head of a global media company, Garfours was able to work while on the road. While he recognizes that not everyone may have the luxury of traveling all the time, he believes there are simple things any one can do if they want to get out more.
Since returning from his final trips—which included a whirlwind day in which he was able to cram in a visit to five continents—Garfors has penned a travel memoir “198: How I Ran Out Of Countries.” In it, he shares advice about his travels, tips for budgeting, avoiding local run ins with the law and countless other tales from a life on the road.
Despite having quite literally seen it all, the native Norwegian still considers his home country to have some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
“Both the midnight sun (in summer) and the northern light (in winter) in Northern Norway are incredible experiences that everyone should try,” Garfors told FoxNews.com. “The scenery is truly fantastic too, with fjords, glaciers, mountains and islands all over – only interrupted by the occasional village, town or city.”
Garfors shared a few tidbits from his travels with FoxNews.com.
FoxNews.com: When did you decide you wanted to travel to every country in the world?
Gunnar Garfors: It was while visiting countries outside the beaten path, even countries most people haven’t heard about that triggered the curiosity for me. My first such trips were to Kenya, Tanzania, China and India. But it wasn’t until I discovered Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan with my brother Øystein in 2004 that I was hooked.
With the hospitality of all the people we met and the jaw-dropping scenery we encountered, I decided there and then to travel to all the “Stan countries.” I eyed the finish line of that goal in 2008, when I had visited 85 countries, and I then decided to visit each and every country in the world. There were 197 countries back then (South Sudan has still become independent), and a friend even challenged me through a bet. He was sure that I would never make it by the time I was 40, and he bet me one beer for each country on the list. He admitted defeat in April, 2013, when I only had one country left.
(Garfours received 197 beers and a bottle of rum from his friend which he shared with friends and family at a party after completing his travels.)
FoxNews.com: What are some of the must-see places in the world?
Gunnar Garfors: The Door to Hell in Turkmenistan is the most amazing tourist attraction I have seen. It is in the middle of the desert, about a three to four hour drive from capital Ashgabad. It is really nothing but a hole in the ground, but gas streaming from the ground has been on fire since the 70s, making an incredible sight – especially at night. That there are NO tourists there also helps.
I also recommend travel to one of the lesser known Pacific islands: Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon Islands. I love it there…so peaceful, yet the people live with the threat of “sinking” as they put it – due to possible increasing ocean levels.
FoxNews.com: Any tips for people hesitant to travel?
Gunnar Garfors: I just have to say one thing. Like Nike says “Just do it.” The sports company’s logo says it all.
It is all just about seizing the opportunity. Travelling to different cultures is really eye opening and it will teach you a lot about other people – and yourself. Just realizing that we live in a safe and pretty nice “bubble” in the industrialized world is quite bizarre. Not everyone can afford to travel, of course, but a little bit of planning and using Internet services such as couch surfing (sleep on someone’s sofa for free), getting food in markets and grocery stores instead of eating out all the time and travelling outside tourist seasons (and not necessarily only by planes) will help everyone stretch their budget quite far.
Need more inspiration? Check out Garfors blog.