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Is It Possible to Visit Every Country in the World?

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Whenever I tell someone I want to visit every country in the world, they usually give me a blank stare and say something about North Korea.

It doesn’t seem overly appealing to the average human, yet it’s become my main goal and driver of my life trajectory. And as a digital nomad, it’s never been easier to visit every country without having piles of savings – as you can earn money while working remotely and slowly travel the world.

In this post, I will answer why it’s a goal of mine to visit every country and the logistics of accomplishing this lofty goal.

What is my motivation to visit every country in the world?

It’s driven mainly by curiosity. I grew up on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (Newfoundland) and spent most of my younger years looking at maps and dreaming of faraway places.

As far as I can remember, I’ve strongly desired to see as much of the world as possible. It’s fascinating to me to see the differences and similarities in how people live.

lora on a red kayak in newfoundland, she is wearing a life jacket and paddling through the scenic atlantic ocean with hills and colorful homes in the backdrop
Kayaking in Newfoundland

Even after 14 years of travel, I still love it. Crossing borders, meeting new people, learning languages, trying new foods, navigating a new transport system – It’s an addiction. But hey, there could be worse things to be addicted to, right?

I believe that every country has something to offer, and I want to discover what makes each place unique. Not just the most popular tourist places. No single objective captures this spirit better than visiting all recognized countries!

More to that, I want to show people that the world isn’t as scary as the media portrays it. There’s kindness everywhere.

Most people think it’s too dangerous to travel to many countries, especially solo, and I don’t believe that.

My travel experiences have been overwhelmingly positive, and I want to share that with the world to encourage others to visit these places.

lora and malawi local
A kind friend I made in Malawi helped me travel overland to Zambia!

I also hope to empower women to travel solo. The list of people who have traveled to every country is made up of predominantly white men, and I would like to change this.

Whenever someone tells me it’s too dangerous to travel the world solo as a female, it motivates me more.

How many people have visited every country in the world?

According to Conde Nast Traveller, there are probably only 400 people throughout history to have visited every country, which is insane to me.

To put this in perspective, more people have gone to space.

However, as travel becomes more attainable, the number grows yearly.

lora Watching elephants up close on a Udawalawe National Park Safari
Watching elephants up close on a Udawalawe National Park Safari

What counts as a country?

What counts as a country is one of the most debated questions in the community, and there are a few different commonly accepted answers.

One of the most widely accepted definitions of a country is the United Nations (UN) member states.

The UN has 193 official members, but this number does not include Taiwan, Palestine, and Vatican City – all generally considered countries in their own right. 

This is the definition I have chosen to go by, although I will include Taiwan, Palestine, and Vatican City, bringing it up to 196 countries.

surf in Costa Rica
Learning to surf in Costa Rica

Another widely used source is the Traveler’s Century Club (TCC). It started as an organization for people who had visited 100 or more of the world’s countries and territories.

They list 329 countries and territories as of 2019, as some places are removed from their home country if they are distinctly different—for example, an island owned by France in the Caribbean.

I like the TCC separation of country and territory and would love to eventually visit each of these 329 places in addition to the UN list.

Most Traveled People (MTP) breaks the world into 891 places, including countries, states, provinces, and island groups. They have an app that keeps track of each place you visit which is fun to use, but 891 places is a lofty goal – even for a lifetime.

lora in balloon mexico city
Celebrating my 32 birthday in Mexico City

How many countries have I visited so far?

Out of the 196 countries, I’ve visited 71 across six continents as of June 2023. In the last two years, I’ve slowed down a lot because of the pandemic and getting older. I’ve embraced the joys of slowmading, revisiting some of my favorite places, and making a base in Mexico.

The regions I’ve spent the most time in so far are Central America, Canada, South America, and Europe. In the future, I plan to travel more of Africa.

How long do I have to spend in each country?

This is a tricky question. I can say with certainty that airport layovers do not count, nor does stepping foot in the country and stepping out.

I haven’t put a specific time frame on how long because that really depends on the place.

For example, a day in Vatican City (the smallest country in the world) is a considerable amount of time there, whereas the two months I spent in India felt, although I barely scratched the surface.

architecture in jaipur, india
Admiring the gorgeous pink architecture of Jaipur, India.

Ideally, I would like to spend a few weeks in each country, making my journey take significantly longer than it could.

Of course, as I start traveling to more dangerous countries, I will need to put my safety first and may not be able to spend as much time as I’d like.

With all these considerations, I don’t see the point in putting a specific number on the amount of time I need to spend in each place.

Essentially, I want to ‘feel’ the country before leaving. It’s not a box-ticking exercise for me; it’s about experiencing what makes the country unique.

Do I have a timeline to visit every country in the world?

Not really. There are so many headlines of people racing to be the fastest person to visit every country, or the youngest person of x nationality to do it, and I don’t understand the appeal.

I’m not doing this to achieve a title; I’m doing it to gain a deeper understanding of the world. Why would I want to rush through these incredible places for the sake of ticking a box?

That’s why I haven’t been overly motivated to put a time constraint on this goal. However, there are a few reasons why I would rather accomplish it sooner than later.

lora overlooking Hunza Valley Pakistan
Hunza Valley, Pakistan August 2019

For one, the future is uncertain. After watching my dad pass away the year after retirement, it solidified that there are no guarantees in life.

I refuse to spend my life working a 9-5 and traveling during retirement. That has to be one of the biggest lies in society.

I’m a young, healthy adult now, and I hope that continues throughout my life, but anything could happen. So I’d rather travel as much as possible now, knowing my body is capable.

Plus, traveling is exhausting. I’m always tired in my 30’s, so I can’t imagine how I will feel when I’m older.

That said, I’ve met many incredible humans in their 70s and 80s throughout my travels, hiking 3000m+ mountains and doing all kinds of amazing things. I hope to be one of them.

aerial shot of San Blas Islands in Panama. sand bar surrounded by turquoise water and reefs.
San Blas Islands in Panama

Aside from my physical limitations, there’s also the question of what the world will look like in the future. As much as I love to be an optimist, there’s no denying we are in a climate crisis.

It’s terrifying to think about the natural disasters that will happen in our lifetimes. Some countries are at risk of disappearing entirely in the coming decades because of rising sea levels.

The world is constantly changing around me, and some things are out of my control. The Covid-19 pandemic made this goal more challenging, with many countries shutting their borders entirely.

I also need to consider my safety. For example, a few years ago, Afghanistan was an achievable country to visit, but after watching the horrifying events of the last year unfold, I don’t know when it will be possible to go there again.

Considering all of this, I plan to travel as much as possible in the next decade, but I don’t have a specific date or age to accomplish this.

lora in hammock Philippines island
Relaxing in the Philippines

How am I going to fund this?

I’m not even sure how much I’ve spent so far on pursuing this goal because my life is travel. I don’t have a permanent home base, so my living expenses have become my travel expenses. Do you know how much you’ve spent living in the last decade?

If I weren’t working remotely and spending my savings traveling the world, I would be more concerned with this question.

Fortunately, over the last few years, I’ve found a way to make a living creating travel content for myself and others that now supports my travels.

And the best part about working for yourself is there’s no limit on how much income you can make.

I plan to grow my income and blog as I go through this journey, so that’s my plan for funding it, along with my favorite travel hacks like housesitting and using points and miles for flights.

Is visiting every country in the world something that appeals to you?


  • Lora Pope

    Lora is a full-time digital nomad on a quest to visit every country in the world and pet as many dogs as she can along the way. Over the last 15 years, she has traveled to 70+ countries and six continents solo. She currently calls Puerto Vallarta, Mexico home and enjoys ending each day with sunset and tacos on the beach.

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