Graham Hughes

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Graham Hughes
Graham-Hughes 2.jpg
Hughes in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 2010
Born Liverpool, England

Graham David Hughes is a British adventurer, filmmaker, television presenter and Guinness World Record holder. Hughes was the first person to visit all 193 United Nations member states and several other territories across the world without flying.[1] He did so over a period of nearly four years and completed the task in November 2012.[2]

While on his journey he presented the television program Graham's World on the National Geographic Adventure channel, a weekly look into his ongoing quest to break multiple world records by visiting every country on earth without flying.[3] In May 2017, he stood to be a Member of Parliament in the constituency of Liverpool West Derby, receiving 0.7% of the votes.[4][5]

Early life[edit]

Graham Hughes was born in Liverpool in 1979. He attended Blackmoor Park School and the Liverpool Blue Coat School, studying English, General Studies, History, and Politics at A-Level. He read Politics and Modern History at the University of Manchester and graduated with a 2:1 BA Honours degree in 2000. He moved to Orrell Park and set up a video production company firstly in Dale Street and then in the Baltic Triangle.[4]

The Odyssey Expedition[edit]

The Odyssey Expedition was a quest to drop in on every one of the 193 UN member states. For the United Kingdom, Hughes visited all of the four constituent countries that make up the kingdom, and counted the UN member state as four separate countries. Hughes also visited the non-member state of Vatican City, as well as the partially recognized non-member states of Palestine, Western Sahara, Kosovo, and Taiwan, for a total of 201 "countries" without flying. He says people tend to wonder how he got into the further-out countries like North Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan, but claims "they were the easy ones".[2][6]

Before embarking on the journey, Hughes contacted Guinness World Records to agree in advance the rules of his unique journey. They were: no flying as part of the journey, no private taxis over long distances (shared "bush" taxis were okay), no hitch-hiking, Hughes could not drive a vehicle or ride a motorbike as part of the journey (Guinness World Records does not permit people to "race" on public roads in private vehicles in order to set or break records), he must set foot on dry land (sailing into territorial waters did not count) and no travelling to far flung territories and counting them as a visit to the motherland. Private transport was permitted over short distances (such as taking a private taxi across town), private transport was also permitted over water and he was allowed to take a break from the journey for personal reasons so long as he did not fly as part of the journey and he returned to the exact spot from which he left, something he did twice on his landmark journey. It was agreed that the clock would not stop.[7]

Highlights of the trip included imprisonment in the Republic of the Congo, getting caught sneaking into Russia, and running the blockade into Cuba. He was arrested in Estonia and Cameroon and spent jail time in Congo[8] and Cape Verde.[9]

Hughes completed his expedition on Monday 26 November 2012 after entering South Sudan. He travelled overland back to his hometown of Liverpool to keep the spirit of The Odyssey.

Guinness World Records were reportedly unhappy with his entry into Russia as it was the only country he entered without passing an official border post.[10] In January 2013 Hughes returned to Russia, this time with an official visa.

While on The Odyssey Expedition, Hughes helped raise funds and awareness for the charity WaterAid.[11]

Graham's World[edit]

Hughes's personal video log of the first year of his expedition was made into an eight-part television series called "Graham's World" or "Lonely Planet's The Odyssey". It was commissioned by the National Geographic Adventure channel, produced by Lonely Planet and distributed by BBC Worldwide.[12] It has been broadcast in over 50 countries, including China, India, Australia and the USA (on Travel Channel).

World records[edit]

Hughes set a new Guinness World Record by visiting "133 countries in one year by scheduled ground transport"[13][14] during the first year of his four-year journey.

In February 2014, it was announced that Guinness World Records had confirmed Hughes's Odyssey Expedition was "The fastest time to visit all countries by public surface transport" (4 years and 31 days) after an extraordinarily long verification process. Marco Frigatti, Head of Records at Guinness World Records was quoted as saying "I can't remember a more absorbing record to verify in recent years."[15]

Global Scouse Day[edit]

Hughes is regarded as the founder of Global Scouse Day, a celebration of "all things Liverpool" held every year in his home town on his birthday.[16]

SOS Island[edit]

On 12 December 2013, Hughes was declared the winner of SOS Island,[17] a Survivor-like show featuring Les Stroud which relied on social media to promote Samsung products on a desert island setting. The prize was $100,000 towards a future island adventure of his choice.[18] He chose to buy an island in Bocas Del Toro, Panama, from fellow British adventurer Ian Usher. Hughes renamed it "Jinja Island" and lived there off-grid for the best part of three years.[19]

Anti-Brexit Activism[edit]

In the wake of the Brexit referendum, Hughes wrote to his local Labour Party MP, Stephen Twigg, threatening to stand against him in an upcoming election if he voted with the Conservative Party to activate Article 50 without any protection for EU citizens living in the UK or British citizens living in the EU (against the expressed wishes of his constituents). When Theresa May called a snap election in April 2017, Hughes, true to his word, returned to the UK to run against Twigg as an independent candidate.[20]

Since then, Hughes has been a vocal advocate of remaining in the European Union, leading and emceeing the "People's March For Europe" in September 2017.[21] He stood as a candidate for the Liberal Democrats in the 2018 local government elections for his home ward of Knotty Ash, Liverpool and came third with just over 6% of the vote.[22]

Film and music videos[edit]

With his company, Hydra Studios, he has written and directed a number of short films and won the inaugural Liverpool 48 Hour Film Challenge in 2006. Hughes has worked for World Challenge Expeditions, producing several travel videos. He has also been heavily involved in the Liverpool music scene, shooting or producing videos for Hot Club De Paris, The Dead 60s, The Basement, (We are) Performance, Peter And The Wolf, Lyons And Tigers, China Crisis, The Coral, The Real Kicks, The Sonic Hearts, Metro Manila Aide, White Rose Movement and filming for the release of the Arctic Monkeys second album, Favourite Worst Nightmare.[23]

In the summer of 2013, Hughes's "One Second Every Country" YouTube video went viral,[24] amassing almost one million views in just a few weeks, which led to appearances on BBC News [25] and CBS This Morning [26] as well as articles about his travels on Buzzfeed[27] and Esquire.[28]


  1. ^ "Fastest time to visit all countries by public surface transport". Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Blake, Matt (27 November 2012). "British man becomes first person to visit all 201 countries... WITHOUT using a plane". Daily Mail. 
  3. ^ "Graham's World". National Geographic Channel - Videos, TV Shows & Photos - Asia. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Graham David Hughes - Back to Save the World". Retrieved 9 May 2017. 
  5. ^ "BBC Election Results". Retrieved 10 June 2017. 
  6. ^ "I am the FIRST (and ONLY) person to visit EVERY COUNTRY in the world WITHOUT FLYING. I now live on a private island in the Caribbean. ASK ME ANYTHING!!! : IAmA". reddit. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  7. ^ " Video Player". Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "BBC News - Global filmmaker arrested again". Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  9. ^ "Fears for arrested round-world filmmaker". The Independent. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  10. ^ Luke Traynor. "Graham Hughes: Guinness World Records won't count adventurer's trip round the globe - Mirror Online". mirror. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  11. ^ "WaterAid - News". Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ Guinness World Records. "Most Countries Visited In One Year By Scheduled Ground Transport - Guinness World Records". Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  14. ^ "The Japan Times - News on Japan, Business News, Opinion, Sports, Entertainment and More". The Japan Times. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  15. ^ "Every country without a flight: trip gets Guinness record". Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  16. ^ Wright, Jade (2016-02-28). "Happy Global Scouse day! Get ready to tuck into a bowl of the good stuff..." liverpoolecho. Retrieved 2018-02-02. 
  17. ^ "Fun Stuff and Competitions - heatworld". heatworld. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  18. ^ "The Winner of "SOS Island" Survival Series 2013 is… Graham Hughes!". Archived from the original on 2013-12-30. 
  19. ^ Hughes, Graham. "Cheap Travel: 10 Secrets Of A World-Record Globetrotter". Bankrate. Retrieved 2018-02-02. 
  20. ^ Traynor, Luke (2017-05-17). "Explorer leaves his private South American island - to run as Liverpool MP". liverpoolecho. Retrieved 2018-02-02. 
  21. ^ "Tens of thousands of anti-Brexit activists march to Parliament". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2018-02-02. 
  22. ^ "Liverpool City Council election, 2018". Wikipedia. 2018-05-05. 
  23. ^ [2] Archived February 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ "BBC News - Round-the-world trip film goes viral". BBC News. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  25. ^ "BBC News - Graham Hughes travelled the world without flying or driving". BBC News. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  26. ^ "Globetrotter hits 201 countries on shoestring budget, without air travel". Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  27. ^ Dan Martin. "This Is What Every Single Country In The World Looks Like For One Second". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 
  28. ^ "Meet the Guy Who Circumnavigated the Globe Without Taking a Plane". Esquire. Retrieved 1 December 2014. 

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