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Henrik Jeppesen

27 years old, and with a goal to become the next ‘World's Youngest Traveler’, Henrik Jeppesen from Denmark is a mere 20 countries away from fulfilling his dream, he told me over a cup of coffee at Angsana Laguna Phuket where he was staying.

September 2015

Tell us something about yourself.
I was born in 1988 in the Danish countryside, a place where nothing much happens. I knew early on that travelling would be my passion. When I was a boy I dreamed of visiting 50 European countries because I thought the world outside of Europe was a dangerous place [laughs].

Once I grew older, my dream of travelling to many places came true and by 2010 I'd set a new goal: to visit 100 countries. That’s when I started my hotel blog and began to travel on a full-time basis.

What led you to start the blog about hotels? And when did you decide to pursue the world record?
When I first started the project it was all about exploring the world’s luxurious hotels and best dining options, partnering with the best places and featuring them on my website. But at one point few years back I realised that I’d already been to more countries than an average person, so visiting every country and territory in the world became the next step. The current Youngest Traveler was 37 when he set the record, so my odds are really good since I have only 20 countries left. After that, I’ll keep visiting places at a somewhat slower pace.

How do you go about visiting all those countries?
For five years now I’ve been travelling almost every single day. Starting the project wasn’t easy and it required an investment before the hotels came fully on board. So by 2012 I’d used up my entire bank loan and I’ve been on a very low budget ever since.

I go through about 200 emails a day and getting everything organised – booking flights, communicating with hotels, arranging visas and airport pick-ups – is quite demanding as I do it all myself. As I have no income, my budget decides how I go about each trip; right now I’m in Thailand where I’ve been many times before because my visa for another country is being sorted out.

Do you find travelling to all these places risky?
I’ve been through various challenges at times and I’ve also had great, unexpected, positive human experiences. For instance, in Somalia I didn’t pay for my visa and that saved me a precious US$100. When we landed, I purposely left the aircraft last and told the immigration officers about my mission. That was a risky move on my part but it ended well. I believe in treating people honestly and kindly, and I trust what my intuition says about people.

What are the best and worst aspects your lifestyle?
Of course, the best thing is that I get to explore the world, meet people and get to know their culture. But also I only have a few friends and the odds are high that I’ll never meet the people
I connected with during my trips again. It’s a solitary life.

How do you handle constantly being on the go?
I’ve got a lot of patience; over time I’ve found peace in my body and mind. At one point in the past I was very stressed out and even miserable, and then I learned about utilising the pressure points in my body. In fact, I studied old Buddhist techniques that help me relax.

What advice can you give those who’d like to do what you're doing?
The best advice I have to give is to cut out all the extra costs, to drop everything that isn’t necessary. I travel with very little;
I have almost no luggage. But I actually believe that the biggest challenge is first having the courage to go out and do it!

How can people travel cheaply?
One of the key things is utilising low-cost companies as well as their last-minute deals that include tickets for just a few US dollars. Rather than choosing as few flights as possible to destinations, opt for a slower and longer trip, pick cheaper interconnecting flights and allow yourself a few days at each of the stops for exploration. Here in Thailand, AirAsia – for example – offers fantastic deals every so often.

You’ve seen most of the world; do you have a favourite place?
My favourite place in the world is Cape Town in South Africa – I’m even planning to move there sometime next year. South Africa has beautiful people and there’s so much to see and do; you can live such a rich life there. There’s a lot of diversity and all kinds of fantastic food for just pennies. Of course it isn’t ideal, we all know about their crime rates. But I choose to be an optimist – why not believe that over time we can make things better? In the end, no matter where you live, there are things to like and dislike.

What will you do once you’ve set the record?
In the future I’d like to experience a more stable life, a life that has a base. I’ll still travel a lot but in a more ‘human’ way, exploring the places I really like; there’s always something new to see. But I do think that having a home, friends and relationships, as well as an income, is all very important. Perhaps I’ll write travel books, as sharing the knowledge I’ve gained on my travels will always be important to me.

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