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Global first: Brit visits all 201 states without flying

Graham Hughes says Iraq and Afghanistan were easy. Islands like Nauru were the real challenges.

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Graham Hughes flashes his South Sudan visa while walking past a South Sudanese ministry building. Hughes has spent the better part of the past four years traveling overland to every country in the world, with South Sudan - the world's newest country - being the last on his list.

Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin

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A British adventurer has become the first person to travel to all 201 sovereign states in the world without flying, ending his four-year odyssey early Monday when he arrived in South Sudan, the world’s newest nation.

Graham Hughes has used buses, boats, taxis, trains, and his own two feet – but never an airplane – to travel 160,000 miles in exactly 1,426 days, spending an average of less than $100 a week. 

“I love travel, and I guess my reason for doing it was I wanted to see if this could be done, by one person traveling on a shoestring,” Mr. Hughes tells the Monitor Monday by telephone from Juba, South Sudan’s capital. “I think I also wanted to show that the world is not some big, scary place, but in fact is full of people who want to help you even if you are a stranger.”

Hughes, 33, set out from his home in Liverpool in northern England on New Year’s Day 2009. 

Since then, he has visited all 193 United Nations member states plus Taiwan, Vatican City, Palestine, Kosovo, Western Sahara, and the four home nations of the United Kingdom.

Guinness confirmed

Guinness World Records have confirmed that Hughes, who has been filming the trip for a documentary and raising money for a charity called Water Aid, is the first person to achieve this feat without flying. 

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