Henrik Jeppesen, a 28-year-old Danish national, has travelled to every country in the world* . He says he started his journey in 2006 when he visited Egypt, and concluded his mission by visiting Eritrea few months ago. Jeppesen was also in Nepal, the ‘100th-or-so’ country he visited for two days. Jeppesen, who went about his mission on a shoe-string budget, now wants to travel to remote territories in the world. He recently talked to Onlinekhabar over Skype on his adventure, his tips for travelling around the world on a budget, and his plans to ‘settle down.’
Let’s begin with your trip to Kathmandu. How was it?
Well, I am very embarrassed I stayed in Kathmandu just for two days. I stayed at a hotel, they showed me around the city. It’s a beautiful place and the people were very hospitable and warm. That is what has left the best impression on me. The food was also interesting. But it was quite spicy for my stomach.
How did the trip to Nepal happen? Where did you come from?
I guess it was around 2012, I was just travelling, and I arrived in Bangladesh. I took a direct flight from Dhaka. Two days is just not enough to explore a country. Usually, I stay more at any place, but because of logistical reasons, I couldn’t do it. It’s not the case with countries like India where there’s a lot of tourism, and it’s easy to move around. In the future, I would like to get to Mt Everest.
But what I want to do more is to explore the culture and meet new people. I might go to Paris and see the Eiffel Tower, but what would be more exciting would be to meet new people.
How much did you spend in Kathmandu?
I didn’t spend a cent, actually. The hotel was free, the transport was free and the food was free!
How did you manage to do that?
My project was done on very little money. More than a hundred airlines and 1,200 hotels sponsored me. I just contacted them and told them about my dream, and offered them a chance to be a part of it.
(Clockwise) Meeting with the Prime Minister of Libya; in Namibia; in Brazzaville; in Sierra Leone.
Ok, now let’s get the early days of the project.
In 2005 I visited Egypt alone. I was around 17 years old then. I went back to my studies for a while after that. But since 2010, I have travelled almost every day. I have spent over 3,000 days travelling to all the 193 UN member countries. Nepal was around 100-105th country I visited.
Which was the last country you travelled to?
The last one I travelled was Eretria. I had a local contact there. It was not very easy to get a visa there. The country has the least press freedom in the world; number two is North Korea. I spent some time there, but did not give any interviews, I maintained a low profile.
So, the other thing we wanted to talk about was your tips on travelling on a budget. How can other people follow in your footsteps?
Yes, that is what I am passionate about. I want to inspire people to travel more. It’s not that everyone needs to travel all the countries, but there are things you could do even on a limited budget. In my case, what I did was I stayed with the local people completely for free. In the early days, I did not have any hotel sponsors. If you take the local transport, it’s not very expensive. I have hitchhiked with over 1,00 cars, never been threatened. What I want to tell people is that you do not need to be rich to travel. But when you do not have the money to pay for the hotels, you need to be a little more creative, and be ready to be little uncomfortable at times. Well, there’s risk to it, but walking on the street is also risky, then.
Jeppesen during a safari in South Africa.
In Nepal, there are many people, who want to travel around the world. But the visa issue is a big letdown. Do you think you had an advantage because you had Danish passport?
Yes that’s correct. I have done a lot of research on this issue. So from what I know, a Nepali passport holder can visit 38 countries without a visa or get a visa on arrival. Your passport is ranked 98th in the world. That’s not bad. It’s not zero.
Then how can we make full use of that ?
For a Nepali citizen, it is easy to go to countries like Indonesia. I know that getting a visa from the home country is very hard. But getting a visa while on the road is easier. Well, why don’t you go to Tanzania, you get a visa on arrival there. From then on, you could go to other countries in Africa. The flight to Africa would be a bit expensive, but that’s all that you’d need to be worried about.
Now tell us about yourself. Why did you decide to travel the world?
I come from Thy, a remote countryside in Denmark. When I was young, I thought I would become the parking ticket guy, and inspect cars. But watching foreign movies changed my life. My parents have not travelled much. They are part of a different culture. In our culture, people drink a lot, go out til 6 in the morning. The alcohol is not cheap. I’d rather spend the money on travelling. For the last six years, I have not been home for good. I have always been travelling. I got my driving license just a few days ago!
Well, it is very important for people to travel to understand the world. They say that the world is a book and people, who do not travel are only reading a page of the book. You need to experience a lot to understand the world. Travelling makes you a more creative person. Take my example, it gave me a bigger dream, and made me think bigger.
You said after travelling the world over, you are working on a new project. Could you please elaborate?
I want to visit some of the remotest islands in the world. There are places where ships go to every 30 years. There are many uninhabited islands in the world. I want to visit them all.
When you are done with your dream project, where do you want to settle?
I do not think I would ever want to settle down. I want to wake up every day with a great feeling.
I am single and as long as I haven’t found a girlfriend, I will definitely not settle down. I hope to find a girlfriend at some point in my travels. She’s got to be out there somewhere. She might be out there in Kathmandu, or in Russia. But when I meet here, I will think of settling down with her. But I haven’t met her so far.
You have travelled the world. What is your conclusion about people in general?
Almost all people in the world are hospitable and very friendly. You need to get out there and experience it. There may be bad people in all countries, but they make up less than 0.00001 per cent. More than 99.999 per cent of the people are good in any country. They are willing to help anyone.