Uganda’s Jessica Nabongo has become the first black woman to visit all 195 countries in the world.
Some people set records by jumping the highest or running the fastest.
But for Jessica Nabongo, a UN employee turned travel blogger, it’s by becoming the first black woman to visit every country on Earth.
She set out to visit all 193 countries in the world in 2016, and on October 6 arrived the last on her list, Seychelles, according to a post on her Instagram page. She also clocked up a couple of what the UN calls “non-observer status” territories, taking her total to 195.
“Welcome to the Seychelles!! Country 195 of 195! So much to say but for now I will just say thank you to this entire community for all of your support. This was our journey and thanks to all of you who came along for the ride!!,” she wrote.
Born in Detroit to Ugandan parents and holding two passports, Nabongo’s epic odyssey hasn’t just been about getting her name in a record book.
She’s hoping to pave the way for women and people of color to do the same.
Although she felt like she’d achieved “the American dream” by landing a six-figure job at a pharmaceutical company after college and buying her own place in the Motor City, the work didn’t satisfy her.
She began renting out her condo to make money, then hit the road — first, teaching English in Japan, then grad school at the London School of Economics, followed by a job at the United Nations that took her to Benin and then Italy. But that wasn’t enough to sate the travel bug.
But simply being able to afford a ticket doesn’t mean that travel is easy or seamless.
Nabongo’s experience traveling the world undercut many of the exhortations travel brands have to “live like a local,” being able to seamlessly blend in anywhere simply by changing clothes or ordering coffee a certain way.
Often, as the only person of color in a crowd, she stood out whether she wanted to or not. Nabongo also has dark skin and shaves her head.
To date, there are about 150 known people who have been to every country, the majority of whom are white men traveling on European passports — the ones who have the option to “blend in” in more places.
As of April 2018, there were 193 recognized countries in the United Nations, plus two with “non-observer status.”
Nabongo visited them all. Her passports have stamps from places as far-flung as Nigeria, Cuba, Turkey and Laos.
Having started travelling at the age of six, Nabongo who is now 34, made history on Sunday when she arrived in the last country on her list, Seychelles.
The travel entrepreneur uses her Instagram account to share her experience and tip her followers who have a desire to venture out of their comfort zones.
Nabongo, who travelled to Seychelles with over 50 friends and family, took to social media to thank her community of followers.
Nabongo only decided to take on the goal of visiting all the countries in the world in 2017. At the time, she had travelled to 60 countries.
She has consequently visited 135 countries in just two and a half years.
Nabongo’s journey across the world has not been without awesome experiences on the African continent, from visiting her family in Uganda, to experiencing unexpected kindness in South Africa, and a trip in Mali that started out as terrible and ended up being a fantastic experience.