52 Countries in 1 year!

Travel Forums Round the World Travel 52 Countries in 1 year!

1. Posted by ManicDave (Budding Member 6 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Yeah, I know it sounds ridiculous to spend only 1 week in each country, but that's the way I travel and I love it!

I just did 10 countries in 10 weeks through Africa - and I was OK with that, but then again I am an African Mzungu - you can read all about it at http://manicmissions.travellerspoint.com/ [snip]

These are the 52 Countries (in 52 weeks) I'm gonna see very soon.

So I start and finish in Cape Town and am still working on how to get to Brazil (maybe Cape to Rio Yacht Race), maybe stowaway on a container ship, maybe win the lotto and buy a first class RTW ticket!

I am gonna do this one with my backpack and tent, and mainly on public transport, hitch hiking, bicycle, walking and crawling (when it comes down to that).

Thrifty is the word - $20 per day MAX, that's hopefully gonna be under US$ 7,000.

As for the rest, I'd like to be around for Carnival in Latin America, spring time in Alaska, Olympics in BeiJing and avoid general bad weather or natural disaster periods on my route.

If any of you can shed some light as to which of the countries below I should avoid in a particular month, I would be eternally grateful.

From Brazil to Alaska I hope to ride on a Yamaha XT 600 Tenere, sell it in Alaska and then do Asia and Europe overland on public transport.

North Africa I'll hitch a ride with some overlanders (hopefully I'll meet them on TP) and then public transport and bicycle through West and Southern Africa.

I will go quickly through the USA and Canada (I've seen 31 of the States and Eastern and Western Canada, and they're expensive).

Japan is probably going to be the biggest budget breaker, but I hope to stay with contacts and utilise some sponsors.


Here are the Continents (with number of countries in brackets)

South America (7)
January: Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina
February: Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia

Central America (5)
March: Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala

North America (3)
April: Mexico, United States of America, Canada

Far East Asia (8)
May: Russia, Japan, South Korea, China
June: Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand

South Asia (5)
July: Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Iran

Europe (3)
August: Turkey, Greece, Italy

North Africa (5)
September: Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal,

West Africa (11)
October: The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Côte D’Ivoire, Ghana
November: Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon

Southern Africa (5)
December: Congo, DRC, Angola, Namibia, South Africa

I am looking for information on getting from Africa to South America without flying (no, I do fly, but it's too expensive and I have a motorbike).
So a container ship or fishing vessel etc is the way - I've put out some tentacles into the shipping industry and am patiently waiting.

Has anyone ever done such a journey and if so what was the cost?

It will probably take 3 weeks, and it's not part of my 52, so I don't mind how long it takes and how uncomfortable it will be.

As for other ocean journeys, any ideas on how I get from Anchorage to Russia/Japan? No bike this time. Also South Korea to China to Taiwan and then on to the Phillippines?

Is there any hope for the Myanmar situation resolving itself in a year's time?


Too many questions

I will try asking future ones with specifics in mind, like "what's the bus journey like from Hyderabad to Nagpur?"



[ Edit: Advertising of private products is against TP forum rules ]

2. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Fast paced travel is my style of travel as well, but 52 countries in 1 year that is just totally rediculous!

Really your whole thing for May is just crazy! Russia (the worlds largest country covering 12 timezones, 17,075,200 sq km (approx 1.8 times the size of USA). Russia has at least two of the most beautiful cities in the world each has so many amazing things to see that a week is barely enough to see St Petersburg let alone Moscow and anywhere else. What is the point of applying for a visa which is such a pain in the rear end to get, is very time consuming and costs quite a lot of money, and all that to see the country for one week!

China is the 4th largest country in the world (slightly smaller than USA), it has SOOOOO many amazing things to see and do across most the country particularly a hike along the Great Wall of China. On top of this the fact you want to be there when the olympics are on which means your whole week would probably be taken up just in Beijing. I spent a week just in Beijing and I still didn't see even close to everything worth seeing and that wasn't when the olympics or any major event was on to make getting about, finding accommodation etc a total nightmare.

Japan is one of the nicer (although more expensive) countries particularly when the cherry blossoms are on. Tokyo deserves 4-5 days, Kyoto deserves at least 3-4 days and that is just two cities! You've got loads more great places to see in a small country like Japan. All these last 3 countries in one month!

Instead of wearing yourself and mind totally numb, why not try and get sponsors to charter you a helicopter to the north pole, then when landing on the ice at the point where the sign marks the geographical north pole, run totally around the sign in a small circle. Then you could lay claim to having been around the world on foot in less than 5 seconds! That's about as rediculous thing to do as doing 52 countries in 1 year!

Hope your trip is a good one, but you are going to be so stuffed by the end of it!

[ Edit: Edited on May 25, 2007, at 12:55 AM by aharrold45 ]

3. Posted by ManicDave (Budding Member 6 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Thanks Allan for your words of wisdom.

Yep, it is ridiculous!

This is not my first RTW and it is definately not going to be my last.

I've done the flying around the world staying in luxury resorts in Canada/Whistler, Hawaii/Kauai, OZ/Sydney

I've also driven for months at a time in single countries!

I'm 32, I want to go through the 52 countries and come back to a few of the gems. I don't like tourists (yes, I know I am one, and I am also a hippocrate) or touristy destinations that have lost their charm.
I want to stay away from big cities and experience the cultures, staying with locals in their homes and eating their food.
I will have an hors' de oevre of many countries (nouvelle cousine style) and return to my favorites for the main course (as a glutton).

About Russia: How difficult is it to get a visa?

If it's too much hassle then I'll skip her.

I plan on doing a Scandinavian/Eastern European/Northern Asia tour at another stage, involving primarily train and animal travel, but that's another story.

I have some Latvian and Lithuanian blood in me and want to spend at least a month in each of: Russia, China, Finland, Norway and the baltics. St P and Moscow will definately need a week each, but not on this trip.

BeiJing (and probably all of China) is probably not going to feature on the trip, as I'm in the vicinity in May, and BeiJing is in mid-August, and I now realise that an Olympic Games is no place for a budget backpacker!

I will definately spend as much time in Japan as I can afford to!

You are very right, I will be "stuffed" at the end of it, but hey, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger!

Can I have your permission to quote Allan Harrold in my next book:

Instead of wearing yourself and mind totally numb, why not try and get sponsors to charter you a helicopter to the north pole, then when landing on the ice at the point where the sign marks the geographical north pole, run totally around the sign in a small circle. Then you could lay claim to having been around the world on foot in less than 5 seconds! That's about as re(i)diculous thing to do as doing 52 countries in 1 year!

I love it, though I think my 1 year journey might cost less than the helicopter thing.

Speaking about sponsors, has anyone ever tried getting anything from:


The HTC is a mind blowing multifunction PDA/Phone/GPS/Camera/MP3/Movie device that I have to have - it weighs less than my Footprint South American Handbook! I must somehow get a free one...

I am hoping I can visit 100 MoneyGram/WesternUnion offices and do a story about it, in exchange for zero charges to accept money transfers. That way I don't have to carry too much cash and will always get local currency. Maybe they will contribute a percentage - inshallah!

Thuraya is the Sattelite handset manufacturer whom I hope would like me to test their latest phone in the remote places I intend visiting.

Anyone got any other ideas on possible sponsors?

Post 4 was removed by a moderator
5. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Given your type of trip and how you will not be spending much time in each place, Russia should be cut off your itinerary, Iran is even harder and more time consuming to get a visa for.

For Russia you need to get a visa invitation which costs about $30US I think (something like that) and then you are meant to pre book all your accommodation (although you can get around this). You are meant to state every city where you are going to and have pre booked all accommodation. If you stay in any place for more than 72 hours you are required by law to register and you are required to take your passport with you everywhere you go, if you have been in Russia for over 72 hours and haven't registered due to not spending more than 72 hours in each place, you need some form of proof to show you have not been in that city for more than 72 hours ie a train ticket. If you didn't have that proof and the police stopped you to check your passport you'd be in trouble but undoubtedly you could bribe them because that's what they usually want when they speak to foreigners. I got the cheapest visa for Russia and that cost me $85 and took 4 weeks to process but for the priority processing visa it was $400! So if you want to pay up big for your visa you can get it done quicker, but I don't think a budget of $20US max a day will cover you for such over the top expenses for a visa.

I haven't applied for a visa to Iran yet, but from all reports I have heard that is about the 2nd most nightmarish place to get a visa for. In my visa guide it warns people to apply for the visa at least 6 weeks prior to arrival and even then just hope that you will be issued the visa because it is very frequent that they will refuse applications. I did read a while ago that someone got a visa in Berne/Switzerland for Iran and it was issued very quickly but he also held a Swiss passport, but that appears to have been an isolated case. So If it is possible applying for a visa for Iran and if you decide to continue with Russia there as well, before you leave would be a must. Between those two countries unless you pay an absolute fortune for priority processing you are likely to need over two months to get the two visas processed and seeing you wont have more than a few days in each place, when you are on the go is just not going to happen.

I too wanted to do an adventure of a similar type to yours i.e. staying with local families, but using sites like hospitalityclub and couchsurfing etc is not as easy as it may appear with finding a place to stay. I'd contact like a dozen people and if I was lucky I'd get 2 people reply and only a couple of times in my whole 7 month trip I managed to stay with local families so you may find this bit of your plan not as easy as it seems. I've also thought about doing my example of the North Pole but preferably spend more than just 5 seconds up there! I would really love to do something like a huge hike in Greenland or far northern Canada to the geographically north pole (hopefully not eaten by a Polar Bear! Doing an extremely long trek from the edge of the Antarctic continent to the geographical south Pole is also on my agenda, but I need to win lotto first because an expedition like that to the South Pole was going to set me back over $100,000.00US!
Skip Russia this trip and do it again when you can spend more time, then you will see that the hassles to get the visa are worth it but only when you can properly explore St Petersburg and Moscow. I don't usually like the Big cities for the same sorts of reasons as you, but St Petersburg, Rome and Moscow are not like your reasons, they do have culture and amongst some of the most amazing things you are likely to see anywhere in the world. The history in Moscow and St Petersburg are very interesting. Culture in India is something that even for well travelled people hits you like a tonne of bricks. It is a huge culture shock with all the poverty there and skin covered human skeletons (the people who have nearly starved themselves to death on every street of Mumbai and most regions of India I went to). Depending on which 10 African countries you went to, you may have seen some of that so it may not be as shocking.

Something else you may or may not be aware of is with Myanmar on your list, you have to fly in to Myanmar as no land/border crossings for foreigners exist and flying in and out is the only option. Also you are not allowed things like foreign Mobile phones in the country (they wouldn't work anyway). Even using everyday websites like hotmail, yahoo, Google etc is illegal!!! How could anyone live life without those websites in this modern day and age?! Some areas of the country (normally ones tourists wouldn't want to go but on an adventure like yours you may) need permits to enter which are costly and hard to get. You can supposedly purchase a mobile phone in Myanmar but it'll set you back the mere price of approx $2000US plus obscene monthly fees! If you have a mobile or similar device unless things have recently changed, you will be asked to leave it at the airport and then when you depart the country you can collect it. So that whole section in July is going to be very difficult if not impossible on a motorbike without breaking many laws and cutting out Myanmar unless you fly in and out. I find it hard to imagine anything will change in the near future because the government of that country is so twisted and stupid (sort of like the Russian and Iranian governments) and don't realise just how much of a difference to the countries economy it would make if they made it far more accessible and less of a nightmare for foreigners to enter.

A while back I had a bit of a look in to going from Africa-South America and it appears a flight costs an absolute fortune and getting there by land is obviously impossible and getting a cargo ship, yacht etc is also almost impossible. You could swim or buy a dingy and row, but it may take a while!

For your trip, you should also consider getting hold of a digital photo storage bank (a device which will let you backup your digital camera memory card without the need for a computer until you want to reduce the content that you've double or triple backed up along the way between putting the photos to CD).

Goodluck with your adventure and finding sponsors.

6. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5774 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Like I mentioned in another topic from you (introductions) I can only say it is a real challenge, and although might be very difficult, I still would say do it! Just for the challenge and satisfaction. Travelling is not all about staying long in countries and visiting different parts and really 'getting to know' the country, it's also about travelling itself. sometimes travelling is better than arriving.

But you could make it yourself easier by visiting all countries in Europe and few more just outside Europe. Which would make 52 countries as well aprox. You won't need a week in Liechtenstein, Monaco, Vatican city, San Marino and Andorra! ;)

By the way, for citizens of several countries it is possible to get a visa on arrival on Teheran airport only. It's a 7-day visa and extending is impossible but a week is all you need....don't know about south africans having that opportunity, you should check.

[ Edit: Edited on May 28, 2007, at 11:32 AM by Utrecht ]

7. Posted by madpoet (Respected Member 415 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

For some countries, like Costa Rica, 1 week would be adequate. But it takes almost a whole week just to travel by train across Russia. Unless you plan to fly, your May schedule (Russia, China, Japan and South Korea in one month) is barely possible. Still, you could go from Moscow across Russia on the TransSiberian to Beijing, then to Dalian or Qingdao, China, by ferry to Incheon, South Korea, by train to Busan, then ferry across to Fukuyama, Japan, and on to Tokyo, etc.

8. Posted by ManicDave (Budding Member 6 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Thanks Madpoet

I have changed my plans slightly.

I'm starting by going up west africa and then through eastern europe up to scandinavia. then spend time (at least a week) in St Petersburg and Moscow.
I plan to take the Trans Siberian through Mongolia, Kazakhstan and then to BeiJing, like you suggested.

Can you give me some more details about your suggestions:

Dalian or Qingdao, China, by ferry to Incheon, South Korea, by train to Busan, then ferry across to Fukuyama, Japan, and on to Tokyo, etc.
Names of trains, approx fairs, have you been on them, the cities, etc.
I can check it all out in books, but if you've already been there and done that then I'd rather hear it from the horse's mouth...

What you recommend is exactly what I want to do!!!

I might still do the journey in reverse, which means south america to north america to alaska to Japan, then backtracking through Busan, S.Korea, China, Russia etc.

I am definately going to skip out south east asia (indonesia, thailand, india etc), as although it's cheap, I would need to spend way more time there!
I'll make up the countries in Eastern Europe (thanks Utrecht)