Hello – I’m Timm. Many years ago, I was fascinated by traveling to distant countries with my backpack. After several trips it has become a passion and I set myself the goal to explore all countries of the world. With my full-time job, I’m traveling from time to time in Europe, otherwise I use every opportunity to travel.
Step by step to the goal:
- 2015: Traveled to all 5 continents with the age of 25.
- 2017: Traveled to all 47 countries of Europe with the age of 28.
How did you come up with the goal of traveling to all countries?
When I came back from my trip to Australia in 2012, I came up with the idea of traveling to all continents before turning 30. But with that came the question: “How many continents are there?” I did not find a golden answer, it depends on how we count. Basically, there are five continents: America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. America can be divided into North and South America and with Antarctica there are seven. Since there is no right or wrong, I have chosen the simplest way and set the goal to travel the first 5 continents.
My travel progress was already good in 2012. As a child, I traveled to some countries in European and was in Egypt and Tunisia, which are in Africa. With my stay in Australia I have been on three out of five continents. In America, I was on my first backpacking trip to the US and Canada in 2013. In 2015, I spent more than a month in India and thus in Asia. At 25, I had reached my goal – well before 30.
Time to set a new goal: I decided to travel to all 7 continents, so South America and Antarctica are on my list. Research has shown that the only way to Antarctica is by ship from Ushuaia (Argentina). Perfect, I thought so and I can combine this with a trip to South America. During my search for my ship connection, I literally fell off the chair when I saw the prices. Worthwhile offers started at over 5000 €, which is almost half the price of a small new car. With luck, it’s cheaper: You can go to Ushuaia and try to get a last-minute spot on the ground. That sounds good, but it takes time, which unfortunately I do not have at the moment because I worked full time.
It was time to set a new goal that I would like to achieve by 30. At that time, I was already in many European countries and how about exploring all European countries? After a search, I was once again shocked, because in 2015 I had explored only 18 of 47 countries in Europe. A big goal: to visit 29 countries in just 5 years. To achieve this, I knew I had to combine several countries. In 2016, I did a backpacking trip to North East Europe to visit Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The next trip took me to Eastern Europe with Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. This was followed by South-Eastern Europe with Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania. On a business trip to Barcelona I extended the weekend and was in Andorra. It’s the end of 2016, and I was in 11 new countries. That’s 29 of 47 countries. At the beginning of 2017, I have set myself a tight plan: to travel throughout Europe as early as 2017. I love challenges, let’s go! At the beginning of the year I was in Malta and in Portugal, followed by a trip to San Marino, Vatican and Italy (here I was before).
It was April 2017 and I realized that I would be able to achieve my goal of traveling to all European countries before 30. I thought about setting a new goal again. It should be challenging and fun. How about traveling to all countries in the world? That sounds crazy – the perfect goal for me. A goal without a time frame is not a goal. It is impossible before 30 – my goal is to explore the highlights of the countries and not to run through them. Realistically is 40 and a new goal is born. After the research I was shocked again. Who would have thought that, as with the continents, there is no official number? As described below, I have chosen 197 countries. Phew, that’s a lot. So far, I have been in 39 countries, so 158 are still missing.
It went on exploring Europe. At Easter, I did a road trip with friends to Slovenia. In the summer of 2017, Eastern Europe was on the list and a journey from St. Petersburg to Istanbul. I was in Moldova, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. At the beginning of September, I went to Switzerland on business and for the weekend I went to Liechtenstein. In addition, I was able to combine a weekend in Slovakia with a business trip to Austria. In the middle of September, it was time for the planned trip to Iceland months ago. I drove around the island with a buddy for a week by car. For this I have bought a drone for aerial photography. In mid-October, it went to Prague for business, and thus to the Czech Republic. In addition, in October I went from cold Germany to Cyprus, which I combined with my first countries from the Middle East: Israel, Palestine and Jordan. The year is coming to an end and my 33rd plane took me to my last country in Europe in mid-December: Ireland. I did it! I explored all the countries of Europe and this already in 2017 at the age of 28.
The next destination is to travel to the 7 continents before 30. The planning for Antarctica and South America has started.
How many countries are there?
The answer to this seemingly simple question is that it depends on whom you ask and how you count. For example, the United Nations recognizes more than 240 countries and territories. Of these, 193 are members of the United Nations.
In fact, there are two more members with limited status at the United Nations. Both the Vatican (officially known as the “Holy See”), which is an independent nation, and Palestine, which is a quasi-governmental entity, have maintained a permanent monitoring status at the United Nations. They can participate in all UN official activities but are not allowed to vote at the General Assembly.
Similarly, there are some nations or regions that have declared their independence and are recognized by a majority of countries but are not part of the United Nations. These are Kosovo, a region of Serbia that declared independence in 2008, and Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China. Both fulfill the requirements for an independent state. However, all but a handful of nations refuse to recognize Taiwan as an independent nation.
So we can say that the total number of independent states in the world is 197:
- 193 members of the United Nations
- Vatican City and Palestine have the status of permanent observation of the United Nations
- Kosovo is recognized by the majority of UN members
- Taiwan is recognized by many countries as a state
What is your goal per country?
Exploring a country takes weeks and months. Since my goal is to travel to all countries, I focus on the highlights. It’s like the cake buffet of a wedding. It is impossible to eat a piece of every cake, but you can have the highlight of each one. So I focus on the highlights of each country.
For each country I search the highlights from different sources:
- Narration and experiences of other travelers
- The 7 wonders of the world
- Places of interest from the Lonely Planet World
- Filming locations
- Places with unique activities For example, riding a camel in the Sahara
So I don’t just set foot on a land or take a connecting flight.
Where do you take the time to travel so much?
I have a full-time job and work over 40 hours a week. Sounds like little time to travel? It is not! It’s not a normal job where I spend all day in the office. I work in technical sales and responsible for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Mainly, I travel in these countries for several days a week. Since my company is international and has offices scattered all over the world, I have been to training and meetings in London, Barcelona, Prague, New York and other cities. I have 30 days of vacation and use them with the public holidays to travel a lot with a good planning at the beginning of the year.
If there are any questions left, I’m looking forward to your E-Mail.