Dane Henrik Jeppesen is barely 28 years old, but the Danish travel blogger has already visited every country in the world. It's a dream every wanderluster has, but few manage to accomplish. What makes this feat even more incredible is that Henrik comes from a tiny town in Denmark with a population of just 40,000 people. We checked in to see how he did it, and what he thought about his time in Croatia.
Where did your journey begin?
Denmark. I grew up in the Thy-district of Northwestern Jutland, where Denmark got its first national park called Ty.
How do you afford all this globetrotting?
I kept track of my spending. Staying with locals. Eating cheap food at supermarkets often instead of restaurants. Hitchhiking (more than 1,000 times) or local buses instead of taxis whenever possible. Hotel points and air miles helps as well. On many days I spent less than 5 dollars. It’s much cheaper to visit every country in the world than people think, but you must be willing to live like a local on a budget, not like a tourist. Almost anyone can do it but it takes time and effort. When I visited 50 countries, I began getting sponsorships from hotels and when I visited 100 countries, I began to get sponsorships from airlines. It made a big difference in visiting all 193 countries in the world.
What was the first and the last country that you visited?
The first was Denmark as I was born here. The first country outside Denmark must have been Germany. The last country I visited was Eritrea in April last year. Eritrea is number one on the list of countries with least amount of press freedom. North Korea is number two. That gives you an idea about what kind of country it is. It is actually pleasant to visit for a traveller, and I actually enjoyed my final country.
You must’ve been to some pretty dangerous places?
I would say the most dangerous was Syria because of the war. It was a surreal experience visiting it and was told I was the only tourist there. The rocess to get the visa took many months, but even with the visa, it was hard to get in as the border staff had a hard time believing I was there as a tourist. With Libya, many of their embassies refused to help me, but got in with help from a representative of foreign press and even met the Prime Minister in Tripoli. Other so-called dangerous places would include places like the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Yemen and Iraq.
What's the most underrated country?
Rwanda is one of my favourite countries in the world. The land of a thousand hills is a beautiful experience. The infrastructure is fantastic by African standards making it very enjoyable. I first travelled from Kigali to Gisenyi and back. Then from Kigali to Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. All trips were spectacular. While the scenery is the highlight, I also liked when people ran after the bus to sell stuff like elsewhere in Africa and interacting with locals.
And the most difficult countries to visit?
Saudi Arabia, Angola, Syria, Equatorial Guinea and Libya. None of the Libyan embassies was able to help me with a visa, so I contacted Danish journalist, Rasmus Tantholdt instead. He provided me with a contact of the responsible for foreign media in Libya. Within 20 minutes of adding him to Whatsapp, he had already guaranteed me a visa and called the airline to offer me a free ticket. Incredible help. In Libya, he took excellent care of me and took me to a press conference where I met the Prime Minister.
What was the scariest experience?
Probably the only time I feared for my life. Sikkim is a special region in India that has border control. I tried to hitchhike back to West Bengal, but nobody wanted to take me. I decided to tell my story to an office, and he then asked a driver to take me. I get in the car with this man that didn’t speak English and ahead were some of the most dangerous roads that in itself made my nervous. What made me a lot more nervous was that he stopped the car after just a few kilometres. He then took out a bottle of vodka and drank it all in one go. If I left the car, I would be standing alone on extremely dangerous roads, so I decided to stay. It was very scary, but I got safely to a town in West Bengal after a couple of hours. I should have paid for a taxi, but I had the mindset of saving wherever possible at the time to increase the chance of completing the project of visiting every country.
How easy is it to travel Croatia a budget?
It is not easy to travel on a very low budget, but it is possible. First of all, flying in on a low-cost airline is easy. Secondly, there are many places to stay for free through Couchsurfing or cheap stays through Airbnb. Transport isn't the cheapest in the region, but if you save on the other things, it should be possible to do Croatia on a fairly low budget.
What do you think of Croatian food?
How friendly were Croatian people?
They were great. Very friendly and hospitable people. I have been all over Croatia, but I'll definitely be back soon for more.
Did you have any preconceptions of Croatia before coming?
I was surprised to see that the country has so much to offer. Although I have been several times, I feel like you would have to travel for many months, maybe even years to properly see it all.
What's next for you?
Now that I have visited every country in the world, I am trying to set a new world record by visiting all 325 countries, territories and unique destinations defined by Travelers' Century Club. I currently have 36 left, but they're really difficult ones so I will have to do my absolute best for a chance to get there.