We are approaching the end of the year and wanted to finish it with an extraordinary interview. So we decided to contact someone who was on our list for a long time but we had never dared to get in touch with. After all, it’s almost Christmas so anything is possible!

  • Soundtrack of the report
  • This Is Home
  • Switchfoot

Chris Guillebeau is one of those people who has decided to make his life extraordinary by defying the “widespread acceptance of mediocrity” as he states in his manifesto. He’s a hero for us because of his current quest to visit every single country of the world by the time he turns 35. And he’s doing pretty well as he’s only missing 19 (as of 12/12/2011) and still has a year and a half to accomplish his goal.

You can find all the details of his quest on this page of his really interesting blog. The blog includes a diary of his adventures, like this narration of his two first years of travel. He also writes about how you could, and should, do the same. For instance, in this fantastic article “100 countries or an SUV”, he explains how he calculated that it would cost as much money to travel to 100 countries as it would to buy an SUV. This is a perfect example of Chris’ philosophy and a main reason why we admire him so much.

And Chris Guillebeau is not only a fascinating traveler, he’s an extremely inspiring person who created an entire philosophy called the Art of Non Conformity. He made it his mission to change the world by inspiring people to lead a remarkable life, which is the recurring theme of all his writing. Sometimes it can sound a bit too much as over positive autosuggestion but it’s possibly the best, if not only, way to achieve this goal.

A good starting point is his manifesto, which I recently read again and is very inspiring for sure. Chris also published a book called the Art of Non Conformity that you might want to read if you liked his manifesto and is online writings.

 

When we contacted him, Chris was extremely nice and approachable. He accepted to answer our questions to give us more details about his travels which we’d like to thank him a lot for. Here they are:

1. How did you become a traveler?

First, I grew up in a lot of different places: Virginia, Montana, Alabama, and the Philippines, among others. Those experiences gave me a good perspective about transition, as well as the fact that people aren’t the same everywhere you go. Then, as a young adult I moved to West Africa—that experience really gave me some perspective. After four years of volunteering for a charity working in the region, I was ready to see more of the world.

2. If you could travel back in time, what would you tell your 16-year old self?

I was a juvenile delinquent and high-school dropout. I’m not sure I’d tell my 16-year-old self to stay in high school, since I don’t think that would have mattered much. But I might say, “Be careful about stealing the red Honda Civic.” That was the end of my attempts to succeed as a young criminal.

3. What is the goal of travelling to as many countries as possible?

I love travel and I enjoy goal-setting, so I put the two together and that’s what I came up with. I also enjoy the quest aspect of it… I feel like I’m on a personal mission of self-discovery and challenge.

4. What is your favourite memory of travel that you usually keep to yourself?

I don’t have a single memory; it’s more like a continual series of memories that I often think of. Right now I’m writing you from the back of a taxi going from Abu Dhabi to Dubai. I came in from JFK and slept most of the flight away, which was good since I was exhausted. However, it’s now 9pm and I’m wide awake. I suspect I’ll be up for most of the night, so I’ll have more memories of the Emirates and of my strange, multiple-time-zones world after I leave her to go on to South Sudan tomorrow.

Chris Guilleabeau

5. What would be your ideal mode of transport, real or invented?

My ideal mode of transport would vary. I’d fly Cathay Pacific First Class, stop off in the cabanas at the HKG lounge, but then—somehow—land in a place like Zimbabwe. Then I’d travel by bush taxi for a few hours, just to be sure I hadn’t softened up too much.

6. How the art of non-conformity applies during your travels?

AONC is my world; it goes with me everywhere. I’m constantly working and connecting with people. I’m also constantly thinking about my own motivations, what I want, and how I can do something that matters.

7. Who would you like to travel with?

I usually travel alone, but for my big trip to Norway in 2013 (country #193), I’m thinking of taking a group along. Fingers crossed.

8. Any cultural practices you’ve learned in travel you use in your own life?

I’d like to say I’ve learned to stop judging other people, but it’s a work in progress. I’ve certainly gained much more respect for different ways of life, culture, and faith.

9. Having traveled to 168/193 countries, have you found what you were looking for?

I wasn’t looking for something specific; I was drawn to the journey itself. The journey continues.

Note: Chris has managed to visit 6 more countries before this interview was actually published and is now at 174/193.

10. How do you imagine your life will change after April 2013? Do you have a new project?

That’s a good question. I’m sure my life will change, but I don’t know exactly how. I’ll keep traveling, of course, and I’ll keep writing. But I also understand that some things will be different, and I’m still trying to understand what that means.