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Around the world in 325 ways

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When he was 17, Henrik Jeppesen travelled from Denmark to Egypt. The trip was part of his plan to become the first person to see all of the world's 325 countries and territories.

In 2014, eight years later, he checked Bermuda off his list.

“It was fantastic,” he said. “I went to New York City. It was on my bucket list. From there I wanted to go to the Caribbean islands, but it was a long way.

“The easier solution was to go to Bermuda to get the world-class beaches.”

In his experience, Bermuda is one of the top three islands in the “Caribbean” region, alongside Cayman and St Barts.

Mr Jeppesen keeps a record of his travels and reviews the attractions and hotels he visits on his website, www.henriktravel.com. Hotels and airlines often help finance his journeys, hoping for some good publicity.

His trip here was sponsored by JetBlue, the Hamilton Princess and Elbow Beach Hotel.

The 28-year-old grew up in rural Denmark. His parents rarely went further than the nearest small town, Thy in Jutland.

“As a child I was afraid of just going to Copenhagen, the capital of my own country,” Mr Jeppesen said. “I couldn't stand seeing so many people.”

But in his late teens he longed for more. “Thy is a great place, but there wasn't a lot to do when I was growing up,” he said. “Most people are just happy to have a very safe, stable life. For me I wanted to travel to experience things.”

His vacation in Egypt was the first one he went on by himself.

“In hindsight, I don't think I was ready for such a big trip,” he said. “At the airport I didn't even know where the plane was. I didn't know how the check-in process worked. I just asked people for help and slowly I learnt how things worked in an airport.”

His advice to others thinking of travelling for the first time — start on a much smaller scale.

“Go to the nearest big city or country,” he said. “Take small steps.”

He couldn't believe it when he got into Syria.

His “fixer” had to do a lot of fast talking to get him into the war-torn country which was number 180 on his list.

“It was December 2015 and the capital, Damascus, was controlled by the government,” he said. “When I saw the smoke from the bombs falling outside the control area, I did ask myself ‘What am I doing here?'”

Travelling the world is his only job, which makes the times he has had to pay for himself quite difficult.

“I have tried to sleep in a bus station in Nigeria,” he said. “That was quite hard. I have slept in airports many times.

“I have also slept in the shower of a hotel. I was staying in the hotel the night before. I asked them if I could use their facilities when I checked out; they didn't say how long I could use the facilities.”

To save on costs he hitches rides wherever it seems safe.

“I love exploring islands,” he said. “They have their own unique culture and it is easy to hitchhike.

“You can't really do that in big cities. In many western countries they look down on it, don't understand why you're doing it, but it's a great way to save money. I have never felt threatened while doing it.”

He often has a harder time with food. It took him six months to fully recover from a fish curry he ate in India.

“I have been food poisoned several times which can be horrible,” he said.

His scariest time was in South Sudan. “There, my taxi driver went to prison for taking a photograph of me,” he said. “It was supposed to be some building in the background. For some reason that wasn't allowed.

“He took the photo and the secret service came and were angry at me. They asked if I was a journalist.

“I said, ‘No I am a tourist'. I was so scared. They checked my camera. I couldn't keep the photo. I was allowed to go, but the taxi driver went to prison.

“His brothers sent me an e-mail later saying how they got him out. That was really hard.”

Mr Jeppesen has 36 territories left before his task is done.

“I am hoping to go the Antarctic in March,” he said. “Seven of the territories I have left are there. The trips there are very expensive.

“I'm hoping to get more followers to my website. Companies look at social media and followers before they invest in you.”

Travelling so much can be very lonely, he added.

“There are sacrifices to this,” he said. “You spend a lot of time alone. You have to be happy about being uncomfortable. Travelling the world sounds amazing to other people, but you have to know the other side of things.”

To see what he has written about Bermuda, go to www.henriktravel.com/the-fairmont-southampton-bermuda and www.henriktravel.com/elbow-beach-bermuda. Look for him on Facebook and Instagram: Henriktravel

World traveller Henrik Jeppesen (Photograph supplied)
The Bermuda stamp in Henrik Jeppesen's passport (Photograph supplied)
Henrik Jeppesen thinks Bermuda has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean (Photograph supplied)
Henrik Jeppesen's view from the Fairmont Hamilton Princess (Photograph supplied)
John Smith Bay taken by Henrik Jeppesen (Photograph supplied)
Travelling man: Henrik Jeppesen on the island of Socotra in the Arabian Sea
Nature watch: Henrik Jeppesen watching wildlife in South Africa

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Published February 09, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated February 09, 2017 at 7:59 am)

Around the world in 325 ways

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