Henrik, originally from Denmark, has been travelling for the past 10 years. He is attempting to visit all 324 countries and territories in the world as recognised by the Traveler’s Century Club and set a new world record for being the youngest person to accomplish this. The current title holder was 37, and Henrik is only 27, so with less than 20 countries to go, he is well on his way to accomplishing his mission.
Henrik recently returned to Thailand to stay at the luxurious Angsana Laguna Phuket resort in Cherng Talay, where The Phuket News was fortunate enough to catch up with him for a chat.
Henrik explains how ever since he was young, he didn’t show an interest in routine and how the locals in his hometown lived.
“I decided that I needed to do something else with my life. I started travelling when I was just 17 years old and absolutely loved it. So it was then I decided that I needed to travel everywhere… The last five years, I’ve been travelling daily, so in that sense you get to see a lot. Every day is an adventure. Now I get to be excited every single day of my life,” he says.
Indeed it would seem that Henrik has lived an adventurous life, but how does he afford it one would ask?
It all started off with a simple travellers’ budget, but after a few years and an organised routine, Henrik soon gained sponsorships from various hotels and airlines where he was then able to pursue his dream of travelling the world.
Henrik’s agreement with the hotels and airlines is that he completes all countries in the world. And because he receives so much media attention and social media followers, it’s been a fairly easy deal giving these companies a little PR. So with 250 sponsorships and an independent website with a collection of some of the world’s best hotels he’s stayed in, his project became possible.
That’s not to say that Henrik has been given a free ride, he has still had to pay his way for visas, for example.
“I meet a lot of people who are afraid to travel. It’s sometimes about the cost, and sometimes it’s the fear of the unknown. But as soon as you overcome that fear of travelling, it just gets easier and easier. Then you start travelling usually in places with a good infrastructure to travel, then over time you slowly start travelling to the less developed areas.
“It’s all about travelling somewhere with great deals. For example, Air Asia have some really cheap flights and in Europe you can travel on EasyJet. The main factor is flights and accommodation, so if you can stay with locals then you can travel anywhere. You just need to have that mindset.
“It’s all about doing research. Find out if it’s safe to travel. When I was in Haiti for example, I was in a bullet-proof car because we went into one of the most dangerous areas in the world. And when I was in Afghanistan I had an armed guard at all times.”
Indeed, it really was mind blowing to meet someone with so much courage and integrity, to be able to explore these dangerous areas and still have the confidence to continue. Of course, that does not mean one should travel freely with no care or awareness. However, what I find so captivating about Henrik’s story is that he is only 27 and he took the initiative to do this all himself. No one forced him, no one told him to go to those countries. He decided to make the most of what is out there and really get a feel of other cultures and lifestyles, even if that may be within the deepest, darkest, and most dangerous streets in the world.
“Now that I’ve travelled so much, for me personally there isn’t anywhere that I wouldn’t travel.
“The best thing someone can do is to travel, and gain a better perspective on life. You get to know about countries and their cultures. You learn about their values and how they may differ. Some go to church every Sunday, some live a very minimalistic life, they don’t spend much time on their phones. They’re much more social, they talk to each other face to face, not through a screen for example. It’s an eye-opener. You just see that people can be equally happier anywhere.”
Henrik has travelled alone, but at time his family have visited along the way just for a few days or so. When asked if he ever feels alone or fed up of travelling, considering he’s constantly on the move, Henrik replied: “Sometimes I get stressed out say for example if I haven’t got my hotels organised. I’ve stayed in everywhere you can think of, from airports, to bus stations, to streets, but now I am just so used to it.”
Some of these locations would not be so popular with the female ratio of the world, as Henrik tells me about how when he was once in Philadelphia Airport, where extremely loud music is played at night, he took himself to the car park and crashed out there. “It’s not the safest place but by that point you don’t care.”
“One bus station in Africa, at 45 degrees celius was definitely not my favourite. With malaria, and a lot of people around sleeping, it wasn’t the most comfortable of places. When I walked in, I thought people were dead! I thought: “Wow, I have to sleep here tonight.’”
You can read the rest of Henrik’s story in next week’s issue.