10 More Countries To Go…

During my trip to Niger in November 2015, it dawned on me that I was just 10 countries away from my ultimate goal to visit every UN-country in the world – 193 in total. That was a major milestone, because I could now count the remaining countries on the fingers of my two hands. An ideal moment to look back in wonder.

In 2008, I decided to visit every country in the world. I made a list of all the countries I hadn’t visited, classified per continent, more than 70 in total. For a while, it was pretty easy to choose my next destination, because there were still plenty of countries on the list. But it gradually started getting more complicated.

Headache countries

Some of the countries gave me a headache, because they were unsafe and had been marked “red” by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Some of those countries were still on my To-Visit list and I kept obsessing about how I could get in and out safely, preferably with a camera full of pictures. In 2014, I decided to give these countries priority, which helped relieve the headache.


And so I headed off to Iraq, Somalia, the eastern part of the DR Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. In some of these countries, travelling wasn’t too much of a problem, in others I had to keep my wits about me and needed a fair amount of luck to get around. You can read about this in my blog “15 passports and 75 visas”.

Saving the party for the last country

When I started thinking about the last countries a couple of years ago, I knew: the final country has to be special. The thought of being alone when I got that last stamp in my passport seemed slightly tragic, so I decided I’d like to celebrate it with my (travel) friends and family, whom I’ve abandoned so often during my globetrotting years.


I eventually chose Ireland as the final country. It’s close to my home in the Netherlands and pretty easy to reach for family and friends. Many people think it’s hilarious when I tell them about my mission and they ask which countries are left on the list: “Ireland?! That’s a 90-minute flight from Amsterdam! Even I have been there!”.

The other nine

I’m really looking forward to visiting the other nine countries before I get to Ireland. Some are so big – Madagascar, Mongolia, Chad, Papua New Guinea – that I’ll need to spend an entire holiday there. Others could do with shorter visits (Liberia, Botswana, Palau, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands). Now that there are so few countries left, I need to plan my visits carefully, taking the climate and travel seasons into account.


The question I get most is: “What will you do once you’ve crossed Ireland off the list? Stop travelling? Or start from the beginning again?” I’m certainly not the kind of person who’ll sit around at home and I see no reason to start all over again. My travels have made me even more aware of the fact that we live on a magnificent planet and that it is fascinating to spend time with the many different cultures that share this tiny piece of the universe.

Do I ever get tired of traveling?

Colleagues often ask if the travelling doesn’t wear me down. Many cabin attendants see their holiday as an opportunity to spend time at home. But when I spend two days at a destination, I often find myself longing to spend more time there. In short, my job gives me a great chance to check out possible destinations for longer trips.


Looking forward to a nice, easy country

During my travels, I compiled a second list of countries I’d like to revisit, for all sorts of reasons. There are some I’d like to see more of, such as Russia, Nepal, Turkey, Norway and the Philippines. And then there are others, such as Afghanistan, Cyprus and Tunisia, for which I have no photos on my site, for various reasons. I’m also looking forward to a nice, easy country, where travelling isn’t a problem, where I don’t need a visa and speak the language. Italy sounds like a great idea, or a road trip through the US and Canada, where I’ve mainly seen the big cities and would love to spend some time viewing the spectacular landscape.


But they’ll have to wait, because I still have 10 countries to go. I have a big map of the world hanging in my house. My nieces suggested that I stick little magnets on the countries I still have to visit. Every time I get home, I remove one of those magnets. The countdown to Ireland has begun!

Posted by:   Boris  | 
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Als KLM bemanningslid is dit niet zo’n geweldige prestatie. Ik wil graag wijzen op Dirk van der Wal die ik op een van mijn reizen mocht ontmoeten. Hij heeft het beoogde doel van Boris al eerder behaald. Zie http://www.volkskrant.nl/leven/meneer-van-der-wal-is-overal-echt-overal-geweest~a1827262/
Ik ben zelf ook aardig op weg, maar mijn doelstelling is nog steeds om mooie dingen te zien en dat gaat boven het doel om alle landen te zien (meerdere keren naar China staat hoger op het lijstje dan meer landen).
Boris, je website wordt genoemd, maar geen enkele verwijzing, waar staat hij?
Onze website: http://www.reisverslagen.net.


martijn, ben een beetje verbaasd dat je dit geen geweldige prestatie vindt – alleen omdat ik KLM bemanningslid ben? graag wijs ik je er op dat ik vrijwel alle landen privé heb bezocht. daarbij ben ik vele malen teruggekomen in dezelfde landen, omdat er inderdaad altijd meer te zien is. dat is tenslotte de drijvende kracht achter reizen: ontdekken hoe de wereld eruit ziet! het gaat mij dan ook niet om de prestatie maar vooral om nieuwsgierigheid naar het onbekende. overigens was dirk vd wal onderwijzer waardoor hij weer veel meer vrije tijd had dan anderen. maar dat maakt zijn reizen niet minder indrukwekkend in mijn ogen.


I think you are competing with Floortje Dessing also from the Netherlands who is presenting a lot of travel broadcasts for Dutch TV. I think Floortje has visited also almost every country on earth by now. As a Dutchman you have to know her.


Hi Boris. If you plan to return for more extensive travel in the U.S. and Canada then you must visit the Pacific Northwest — Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Portland — and see the Canadian Rockies and the U.S. Rockies, and the mountains of the Cascade Range, and so much more!

Maria Eugenia


PERU…very nice country and best food ever ;) …revisiting would be a nice choice.


To be honest, I thought you would’ve kept Belgium on your mind as the last country to be conquered. Anyway, I wish you lots of inspiring Irish spirits and lovely memories. As an old crew member of KLM I admire every globetrotter. Cheers.

Maria Rant

I hope you ll enjoy your visit to Philippines.. Filipinos speak english more than other asian countries.. Be streetwise in Manila but enjoy the people and hopefully you will meet new friends when u are there.. If u need some contact to help you when you are there just email me and i have some friends who you can trust and help you to enjoy more and be safe.


Sure they do but lets not forget how dangerous can your streets be from thefts. Tourists are always ripped off. being an australian, manila is the worst destination for me in SE Asia.

Mary ann

Hi, It’s true that its a bit dangerous going around not only in Manila but other part of the Philippines. The secret is you must be with a local ( a filipino) who has a full knowledge getting into different places in there. I grew up in Philippines and had many friends from Norway and relatives too that enjoyed their vacation in my homeland. It is the worst Yes! but also the best place too :)

Meenakshi Sen

You are leaving put India totlay by your bucket list ..it seems … Not a bad place .


If u want to see whole world visit all the 28 states in India ,unity in diversity


A trip. Ryanair now flies to Ireland from Schiphol airport for very low prices. You can take your whole family.

Leonora Carroll



You could take geocaching as a hobby, revisit the countries and find caches in every country…


Ha, thanks for all the suggestions! The risk of making a list is that you inevitably leave out options; in this case, I picked a few countries as an example and yes, I realize there are many more that are interesting enough to go back to. Currently, I have 28 countries on my shortlist for after completion of the current one that holds 10. Philippines, India, Peru, Rwanda are all on that list. Thanks, Gary, for your input about the Pacific Northwest!
Yes, I know Floortje Dessing, but as far as I know, she has more countries to go to visit all countries in the world – and I am not sure this is her personal goal.
As for reaching Ireland: considering the current airline situation, in my position as Senior Purser for KLM it would be pretty bad to fly Ryanair!

Lolita M. Balboa

CONGRATULATIONS! How I wish I could also do what you’re doing. At least you’re connected with KLM and it is easier for your to achieve your goals. It is also my dream of visiting countries and I hope in the future I can visit again other parts of the world.
Visit the Philippines – and experience the kindness and hospitality of the Filipinos.

Reymon rafAl

Just wanted to know. I’m saving as much as I can but which continent can my money stretch longer Asia or Latin America? N which continent can I see more historical landmarks. Still debating. About six months long. Thanks

Rio Marcelo

Re-visit The Philippines! It’s like The Netherlands it has “THE” affixed all the time


You forgot to visit my beautiful and exoctic country ” The land below the wind'” Borneo. ;)


@rio: haha, i like that connection! i definitely want to see more of the philippines: i think it is one of those heavily underrated countries overlooked by too many.
@reymon: i would say asia can cost less than south america. that said, it really depends on what you want to do, and how you want to do it. one of the biggest misconceptions about travel is that it is expensive. yes, it can definitely be, but if you are not too picky, don’t mind traveling slowly (ie., public transport, sleeping in simple accommodation, etc) it can actually be quite economical. big plus: your experience is likely to be more authentic! this is not really the appropriate place to discuss your private travels; feel free to contact me directly through my website.
@lolita: i am convinced that if you want to live your dream, and set yourself to it, you have a good chance to actually achieve it as well. dare to dream – and dare to make that dream come true! good luck!


@christina: i am currently striving to visit all UN countries in the world, and Borneo is not one of them. but i definitely want to see more of the region, and Borneo is high on my list. if you have any suggestions, please let me know!

Gopalan Nair

Borneo is not a country. Countries on the island include Malaysia (East Malaysian states of Sabah & Sarawak)), Brunei and Indonesia (Kalimantan state).


@Nair you are right part of North Borneo is Malaysia States and South is under Kilimantan but as a native. .I proud to say I am from Borneo rather then Malaysian.


@ Boris you can do claiming the higest Mountain in South Asia “gunung kinabalu “,. and visit the famous “Sepilok orang utan” in Sandakan. Only 15 min from city Kota kinabalu lay manukan, gaya and sapi Island where you can diving, or just relax;) . In Sarawak you can visit “rumah panjang ” its mean long house and also visit the tropical jungler;) The people in Sabah&Sarawak always smile and helpfull and we speak also English very well; ) Good luck and enjoy yours trip


Hi Boris, is Brunei not on the UN list? Have you been there? Situated in North West Borneo, its a beautiful small country between the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak


yes, brunei is a UN country and yes, i have been there. but it is just a slice of borneo which definitely deserves another visit!


Nice going Boris!! Almost there buddy. Bon voyage!


I’m so happy that you step out of usa to visit other countries,,,more opportunities to learn and discovery differents cultures and that will make you more powerful and intelligent when you are with people,,
I’m so glade you did it and wishing you more courage and wonderful good trip for the rest of your tour,,,
Thank you to share all of your trips pics,,


rolland: thanks for your kind words!


oooh! this message is the best for my eyes, Uganda is the next to be visited by you in the next shift. Mt Rwenzori, Elgon, and with their animals together with their birds are all waiting for you.


emma, i have been to uganda, actually: several times already!


I hope you enjoyed the DRC? I went last year to the East and it is the best place I’ve been (albeit, I’m only on less than 40 countries!). The landscapes were spectacular.

Can I ask; how did you get a visa for Equatorial.Guinea? I’ve always wanted to go, but the bureaucracy seems a nightmare. I might go to Sao Tome or Guinea Bissau instead.


i completely agree that the landscapes (and wildlife) of DRC are spectacular. check out my blog about DRC as one of the not-to-miss destinations: https://blog.klm.com/impossible-not-to-love-7-bucket-list-worthy-destinations/
ah, the visa for EG actually WAS a nightmare! i strongly recommend STP (sao tome and principe) which will give you total peace of mind instead!

Orford Ness

Hi Boris great story – great travels. How do you manage to combine work and travel?
And social life and some R & R ? Or are you just moving on all the time?

As an aside — what font is the unusual letter as in here “During four years as a computer programmer/analyst,”
with the letter O jumping up and down?

Just curious

Greetz Orford


orford – the challenge of all this travelling (and being away from home) is keeping in touch with relatives and friends. fortunately, the internet has made this much easier than just a decade or two ago. i do not have a family, which already makes a big difference. and yes, i am on the road much of the time!
i don’t see anything special in the “o” – hopefully it was a temporary thing?


Congratulations on your tour of nations, and good luck with the remaining countries on your list. Just curious, why no pictures from Cyprus?



nick: you are a sharp observer! a couple of countries i have been to are missing on my website because i didn’t take pictures yet (in the case of cyprus and a few others), or (in the case of mauritius) because my camera and rolls were stolen. a good reason to go back to them!


i wish you the best I was just planning to do 90 countries .you now inspired me to do more,meanwhile please be careful don’t be careless in easy countries .the more easy it is the more careful you should be thanks Bon voyage.hanif


bon voyage yo you, hanif! and you are right, the concept of “easy” versus “dangerous” country is not as easy to make as some people think. we need to keep our eyes open all the time!


Well done and good luck on getting the last 10 done.

Unfortunately, I don’t think you’ll be able to get that last stamp in your passport, as EU states can’t/shouldn’t stamp EU passports [due to no limit in how long you can stay]…


i know it is difficult to get stamps in EU countries. but i will try anyway, and explain the reason for my request. otherwise, i will just put a shamrock in my passport as a souvenir ;-)


come see us in Canada,you could spend a lifetime and never see it all. Cheers man.


Have you ever been to Taiwan? Althought it is not in the list of UN country, it is totally a country you must visit !!!
And I know KLM has direct flight to there.


andy – yes, been there, and i liked it a lot! one of the places often overlooked by many, but still so much worth a visit. it has breathtaking nature, plenty of culture and history, it is clean, easy to travel around, and well – the great food alone is already a good enough reason to visit!

Itumeleng Mokgakala

I would say Afghanistan…till is peacefully and I can enjoy the mountains


Hello there! May I know, did you stick a world map onto a large magnetic board ? I have a national geo world map but I would like to know how I can stick my travel magnets on it.


@evon: good question! actually, I bought the magnetic board map as is – not only is it magnetic, you can also write on it with markers. the downside, however, is that there is no glass protecting it, and the colours of the countries fade (you can see how the americas have faded a lot (most sunlight) while east asia is still quite colourful…)

Paul Burns

Glad to see you’re leaving the best country to the last. You should contact RTE radio or Today FM in Dublin, I’m sure they would love to interview you. Good luck and happy travels

kessenaemuakpeje@gma (@kessenaemuakpej)


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