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10 Year Plan

My dream is to visit all the countries of the world, even the crappy ones. Some won't be easy, but I've got a 10-year plan to do it! Moreover, I'm writing the WanderLearn book series, which is about what we can learn from all the regions of the world. I am sharing these experiences to inspire others, bring world peace, and give myself something to do.

There are about 203 countries, and I've been to 80+ countries, so I've got a long way to go. I've visited over 40% of the world's countries and below is the 10-year plan to see the other 60%! Check out the interactive map below:

Francis Tapon jumping in the Greek island of CorfuWhat's with the obsession of traveling to every country?

I just love to travel. A lot. My wanderlust is an incurable disease. But I'm in denial, so I call it WanderLearn. Tongue out

What's the point? Why not visit a few and get to know them well?

Travel (and life) is about trade-offs. When choosing between spending one year traveling in one country or one year in 12 countries, I prefer 12. I'd love to spend one year (or 10 years!) in each country of the world, but I can't bet on living 192 (or 1,920) years. Others prefer to spend their whole life in one village and not moving at all. My way isn't better than any other. Hike your own hike.

When does one truly know a country?

I'm not sure. Not all countries are equal: one day in Lichtenstein is far more revealing than one day in Russia.

Moreover, an old American in Wyoming, who hasn't left his country, may know the US less well than an observant traveler from Norway, who spent several intense months traveling all over America.

When can you say you've been to a country?

It's debatable. Most (including me) don't count an airplane stopover. However, does stepping out of the terminal count? What if, after sneaking across the border to Guatemala, I had returned to Mexico? Could I have claimed to have been to Guatemala? No? Well then what if I bought a souvenir and then returned? Does spending a day in Paris mean you can say you've been to France? How about a week?Ducks in Bled, Slovenia on a winter day - photo by Francis Tapon

As you see, it's all arbitrary. Indeed, the whole goal of traveling to all the countries in the world is arbitrary. What's worse is that it's practically impossible to prove that you've done it. Many countries don't stamp your passport. And even if they do, I've lost my passport twice. I didn't take pictures or video when I spent a week in Colombia in 1995. Does that mean I did not go there?

Although I'm pretty lenient in judging when someone has been to a country, I usually spend weeks or even months in each country. Yet no matter how much time I spend, perhaps I will never truly know the country. Each country is like a giant onion with an infinite number of layers to peel. The reason is that countries are not static: they're always changing and evolving. That's why it's fun to revisit a country.

Ultimately, I'm pursuing this quest for my own pleasure. I share my insights and lessons with anyone who cares. If you think my goal is stupid, childish, and meaningless, then hike your own hike. For me, it's simply a way to measure that I'm making a comprehensive effort to explore and write about this enchanting planet we live on.

The Ten Year Plan (and a bit of history)

Communism had its five year plans, so here's my ten year plan! Remember, the communists were never accurate either....

2001: Thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (inspiration to write Hike Your Own Hike)

2004: 5-month trip to all 25 countries in Eastern Europe.

2006: Thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail.

2007: Yo-yo the Continental Divide Trail.

2008: Visited Central America, the Netherlands, Norway, and then returned to Eastern Europe to spend 3 years there.

2009: Revisited most of Europe (40 countries). Soloed Mont Blanc in trail runners. Walked across Spain twice.

2010: Traveled in every country in Eastern Europe again.

2011: Wrote The Hidden Europe in Croatia and Slovenia. Revise Hike Your Own Hike and make it available as a ePub and audiobook.

2012: Publish The Hidden Europe and promote it. 

2013: Start Africa trip and spending most of it in eastern Africa.

2014: Continue African trip, spending most of it on the southern Africa.

2015: Continue Africa trip, spending most of it in western Africa.

2016: Finish Africa trip in northern Africa. Write book on Africa and appear on Oprah's TV Network (hey, I can dream!).

2017: Travel in the Middle East.I want to summit Mt. Everest before I die. So if I summit it and then die on the mountain, that's cool.

2018: Write and publish the Middle East book.

2019: Travel Asia.

2020: Write and publish Asia book.

2021: Travel to all the countries in the Pacific Ocean and visit Antarctica

2022: Write and publish book about the Pacific and Antarctica

2023: Travel South America.

2024: Write and publish South America book.

2025: Travel to any leftover or new countries. Get a dog and retire. :)

At some point, I want to summit Mt. Everest (that mountain in the photo). I may wait until they build an escalator to the top, but if you hear of any expeditions that you think I should be a part of, please contact me.

What will I do after visiting all the countries in the world? Pray for World War III, so that afterwards there will be new countries to visit! If that doesn't work, then I'll start building a spaceship.

My dream video

Amazon and Lincoln Mercury were looking for the person who best typified the dream of traveling the world. The picked me and shot this short video over two days.

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