Two hundred flights, 120,000 air miles, 400 hours in flight, 220 different airports, 12.5 days waiting for flights and 140 different beds. Imagine the check-in hassles, the different airline meals and the jet lag! In November 2002 two travel-crazy New Zealanders set off to conquer the Guinness Book of Records for travel – 193 countries in 150 days while promoting the Save the Children charity. And they called it the All Nations Quest !

John Bougen did spend a lot of time in airplanes visiting every country on earth in 150 days

John Bougen did spend a lot of time in airplanes visiting every country on earth in 150 days

Driven by the passion of Auckland businessman John Bougen to explore the unknown, and even scare himself a little they succeeded in completing their ‘Absolutely Outrageous Adventure’. They successfully entered the Guiness Book of Records for fastest visitors of every country in the world.

All Nations Quest Inspired by mother in law

John Bougen is a well-off New Zealand business man  who made his fortunes building shopping malls in the land of the Kiwi. This gave him the financial foundation to pursue a crazy hobby “to visit every country int the world in as little time as possible”.
The travel bug and All Nations Quest idea he caught from his mother in law:

“I had the best mother-in-law in the world. The two of us got on really well and Barbara inspired me. She was one of the first New Zealand women to visit Nepal, and it was nothing to her to charter a plane. She was the ultimate traveller. She really inspired me to explore the world outside of New Zealand”

His odyssey to visit every country on earth began in 2002, when, sparked by his mother-in-law’s enthusiasm, he worked out he had only visited 34 countries, mainly on research trips for his business, building shopping centres. Drinking with his cousin, James, one night he wondered aloud if it was possible to visit all the countries in the world in a single journey. Within half an hour, they had decided to try.

Nine months later, after preparing the logistics thoroughly – which meant having 50 visas pre-arranged in their passport in NZ and a further 40 pending – they were off. During the next 150 days they country hopped around the world often spending more time in the airport hall and at customs than in the country itself.

25 minutes in Tajikistan & 17 minutes in Tuvalu

The longest time he has spent in any one country on his All Nations Quest is six nights, which to him seemed “an inordinate amount of time”. He spent just 25 minutes in Tajikistan, having a cup of tea with the border guards. “They spoke no English and I don’t speak Russian but I had a lovely time,” he says. Even that was quite a lengthy journey compared to the 17 minutes he spent in Tuvalu. He got off the plane, had a cigarette while his passport was being stamped, and then boarded again for the next Pacific island destination.

Traveling light

Bougen is an expert in traveling with only carry on luggage, to make his transfers as swift as possible. He travels with just one small backpack, containing five safari shirts, five pairs of underpants and socks, a pair of brogues and a world almanac. Logically he has gotten very good at negotiating hotel room rates, and he always wins games of Trivial Pursuit.

John Bougen with his standard carry on luggage trolly - All Nations Quest

John Bougen with his standard carry on luggage trolly during his All Nations Quest

Breaking Bougen’s record?!

In a streak of 150 days he managed to visit each single country that is a UN member, 193 in total setting an almost unbreakable record. However, considering that three Norwegians recently broke the world record for most visited countries in one day by visiting 19 countries in 23 hours and 33 minutes you start thinking it could be doable.

The account of John Bougen’s record travels around the world have been written down in a book aptly named “An Absolutely Outrageous Adventure. Recommended for aspiring record-breaking travelers.

All Nations Quest: an absolutely outrageous adventure

All Nations Quest: an absolutely outrageous adventure

It is the account of their kickass journey, the places they visited and, in particular, the people they met. They were angered, humbled, scared and tired – but never bored. In fact, John Bougen would like to do it all over again!

Sources: Amazon, Bol.com, TVNZ.co.nz