I've traveled to over 70 countries and backpacked over 20,000 km (12,500 miles) in the wilderness. Although some think this is some perverted form of wanderlust, the truth is that I'm just running from the police.
My goal is not only to keep evading the authorities, but also to visit all 203 countries of the world, So far, I've been to 80+ countries, which is 40% of the world's countries!
To see where I've been, where I've lived, and where I want to go, check out the interactive map. After a while I got tired of indicating all the places I wanted to go. So if it's blank, I want to go there too.
Currently, I'm exploring all 54 African countries for three years. I plan to finish the trip in 2016 and write a book the experience.
In 2004 and 2008-2011, I explore all 25 countries in Eastern Europe. That inspired me to write my book, The Hidden Europe.
Between 2001-2007, I backpacked over three long trails, known as the Triple Crown:
Fewer than five people have hiked all the Triple Crown southbound, mostly because it's a bit more challenging than going northbound. Thru-hiking the AT was special between it was my first long trail and it inspired me to write Hike Your Own Hike.
However, my most notable hike was the CDT because I became the first person to ever yo-yo that trail. To yo-yo a trail means doing a round-trip on it. I encourage you to see the 4 minute video on the CDT yo-yo! It's not everyday that you can see a 7 months adventure summed up in 4 minutes!
And if you like that, then check out the other video that sums up some of my adventures before doing the PCT. You'll see my adventures in Olympic National Park, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, and the Appalachian Trail in that 3 minute video!
To learn more about each hike, including photos and videos, please select one of the links on the right!
Below is a two minute video that sums up my dream of traveling the world!
Francis Tapon's Dream of Traveling the World from Francis Tapon on Vimeo.
TripWolf interviewed me and posted it on the TripWolf blog. However, due to space limitations, weren't able to publish the whole email interview. I've included it below, if you're curious...
1) You are a passionate traveler - when did you first get itchy feet and discovered your travel bug?
I was born with a travel bug—it’s in my genes. My Chilean mother and French father immigrated to America at an early age. My dad’s business involved constant trips to South America. By 13 years old, I had already been to six countries. However, I didn’t become conscious of my love for travel until I was 22 and traveled for 75 days throughout Western Europe. At that point, the travel bug became a travel beast.
2) What was your biggest adventure in your live so far?
Becoming the first person to yo-yo the Continental Divide Trail. I hiked from Mexico to Canada, and back, along the continental divide. I walked over 9,000 kilometers of mountains in less than seven months. I slept every night in the woods, sometimes in the snow, and I went 45 days without a shower. So nowadays I rarely complain about much when I travel.
3) Tell us about your Continental Divide Trail hike - did you do the entire trip just by yourself? Did you feel lonely? What went through your mind hiking so many miles through nature every day?
I was alone 99% of the time, but I only felt lonely in the first week. I quickly learned to enjoy the solitude. I fed my mind by listening to audio books, Mandarin courses, and educational podcasts on my MP3 player. I also contemplated global warming, what it means to be human, and why I love Ben and Jerry’s ice cream so much.
4) Where are you going on this trip? How long are you going to be on the road and what's your motivation for this trip?
I’m back in Eastern Europe for at least 6 months. I have no set plan, except that I will revisit Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, and Moldova—all countries I felt I didn’t spend enough time in last time I visited. I’ll also make a special trip to little known part of Russia called Kaliningrad.
Along the way, I plan to revisit countries I have already done great research, but would like to see again: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, and East Germany. I also plan to hit some of Western Europe (San Marino, Lichtenstein, Andorra, Switzerland, France, and Spain).
The motivation of my trip is to compare how Eastern Europe has changed from 2004 (when I visited all 20 Eastern European countries). I’ll finish my book, The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us, sometime in 2009. It will be the second book in my WanderLearn Series, which is based on the simple premise that when you wander you not only learn about the world, but about yourself.
5) Tell us about your greatest experience on the road meeting other travelers.
In 2004 I took a ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn and met Maiu Reismann, an Estonian traveler who was heading back home. By the end of 90 minute boat ride, she invited me to stay with her family and showed me around Estonia. Eventually, she hiked with me over 4,200 km on the Pacific Crest Trail. Who would believe such a brief encounter would yield all that?
6) You have published a book and DVD about hikes - gives us a little insight - what's the story and what are the next publications you are working on?
The DVD shows 630 photos and videos about my CDT adventure. It gives you an idea what such a crazy trip entailed. My first book, Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America, is about the lessons I learned from backpacking 3,500 kilometers on the Appalachian Trail. The insights don’t just apply to backpacking and traveling, but to life itself. It’s a self-help book with a travelogue as its core. It will inspire all but the most close-minded to improve their lives by stepping outside their cubical and exploring the planet (and themselves). I donate half of my book royalty to the National Scenic Trails in the United States, so it’s nice to buy it even if you’re only mildly interested.