Smack in the midst of a Guinness World Record attempt to be the first man to visit every sovereign nation on Earth without flying, Graham Hughes is a hard man to pin down. But as he’s currently stranded in Sri Lanka, his 198th destination, with no way of getting over to the Maldives, we sit down for a conversation with the ‘ginger headed scouser’.
Born in that city of ships, Liverpool, Graham Hughes is a British film-maker, television producer, presenter, writer, Guinness World Record holder and above all-adventurer. In his 33 years he has travelled more and met more people than most men can hope to in 33 lifetimes, and he’s got the stories to show for it.
His love for travel began with ‘mad camping trips’ his family would take around Europe. “My dad-he’s the original loafer,” Graham grins. “He would drag the entire family not just to the cheesy tourist destinations -we’d visit East Europe, the off-the-map locations no one sane would take a holiday in! So when I went back to school, I was the cool kid who had holidayed in places nobody could even pronounce, let alone have heard of.”
So by the time he hit 20, he had already been to over 70 countries. And it was on this tour that he ‘picked up’ his sassy Australian girlfriend Mandy from Egypt, when they met in front of the pyramids.
The decision to travel the world, and do it without leaving the ground came from the realization that he could, says Graham. Leaving behind a life of comfort for roughing it out is no easy decision to make. His film company Hydra Studios was just getting off the ground and life in general was good. To drop it all and travel is exactly the kind of impulsive decision that he was being warned against. So drop it all and travel he did.
The expedition that started on the first day of 2009 has taken him to places and people over great continents and across stormy seas. Starting off in the great landmass of the Americas, he toured South America in just under two weeks (having already holidayed there before, it was just a matter of stepping one foot over a border, getting his passport stamped and then making his way onto another country!). There on followed Canada, Iceland, and Europe-fairly ordinary excursions for the seasoned traveller.