Graham Hughes Interview: First Man To Visit Every Country in the World Without A Plane

For nigh on four years, director Graham Hughes has been slap-dashing his name into the record books for exploits more…

Andy Scott


For nigh on four years, director Graham Hughes has been slap-dashing his name into the record books for exploits more worthy of a silver screen treatment than getting eaten by sharks or cutting your own hand off ever could be. “What on earth could be more interesting than somebody hacking off their own hand in a freak climbing incident?” I hear you say, and I applaud your prescient wording of the question. On 26th November 2012 Graham Hughes set foot in his last – and the world’s newest – country in a long line of countries. Before this date, he’d already visited 200 other countries to become the first person EVER to have visited all of the countries on EARTH! And he did it all without flying! Plus he raised a whole bunch of money for the charity Water Aid in the process.

“Who the hell can afford something like that?!” I hear you ask and, I beg of you, please stop interrupting with questions, there’ll be plenty of time and room for that later in the comments box! He mustered up a pittance from various jobs and even managed to bleed some money out of TV executives at National Geographic in order to film the exploits of his travels. Combine this pittance with a love of and some ingenious tactics from his very own Travel Yoda and he’s managed to do the whole thing whilst skirting the rim of penury.

We at WhatCulture caught up with him after he arrived in South Sudan and he took some precious time out of his sprint back to Liverpool, from whence he came, to answer some of our questions. So in true ‘High Fidelity’ style we’ve put together a Top Five Top Fives from the mind of the great man himself.


Top Five Movies That Most Inspired You To Travel


WC: As a self-confessed movie junkie, can you tell us what paradigms of popular culture twisted your youthful mind into thinking it’d be a great idea to live a nomadic existence travelling the world?

GH: “Easy!

1)      Around the World in Eighty Days

2)      Raiders of the Lost Ark

3)      Stand By Me

4)      Easy Rider

5)      And any Bond movie you’d care to mention!”


Top Five Movies That Can Broaden Your Mind As Much As Travel!


WC: It’s said that some movies can broaden your mind as much as travelling; seeing as you’re one of, if not THE most travelled person on the planet, can you think of 5 movies that have come close to this dictum?

GH: “Hmmm … tricky. I think I’m going to have to get all political here and go with:

1)      Lord of War

2)      Hotel Rwanda

3)      Schindler’s List

4)      The Killing Fields

5)      And, yes, An Inconvenient Truth


Top Five Travelling Emotions And Movies You Watched With Them


WC: A movie for every mood! You’ve been on the road for the past three years and this kind of solitude and sense of urgency incurs a lot of raw emotion. Can you think of 5 movies you decided to watch based on your emotion of the hour?


1)      Political: Blood Diamond (after visiting Sierra Leone)

2)      Frustrated: Fight Club

3)      Just Said Goodbye To The Woman I love: Casablanca

4)      Mad As Hell And I Ain’t Gonna Take It Anymore: Network

5)      Sad: Grave Of The Fireflies

  1. a.       Oh, and “Jovial”: Planes, Trains & Automobiles! Classic!


Top 5 Cast Members To Star In ‘Graham’s Odyssey: The Movie’


WC: A movie deal of your life story has to be inevitable (if 50 Cent got one surely …) so considerable thought is necessary concerning who you would have play YOU and what other cameos/cast members would you love?


1)      Me: “I get called ‘Ginger Seth Rogen’ a lot, I guess it’s an obvious choice

2)      Mandy (My Ex-Girlfriend): Zooey Deschanel

3)      Casey (My Current Girlfriend): Karen Gillan

4)      My Dad: Harrison Ford

5)      My Mum: Meryl Streep


Top Pointers For Budding Directors


WC: As a self-shooting director with more than an arm’s length of laudable successes, what would be the best advice you could give someone hoping to make similar T.V. shows and/or get into filming professionally?

GH : “Come up with a great idea, get a production company interested in it and tell them you’re going to do it with or without them! Worked for me!”



For more advice, guidance and general hilarity don’t forget to check out his blog on and follow the final leg of his leviathan journey through every country in the world and back again @EveryCountry!