I am a passionate traveler, hiker and runner!
I am trying to visit every country in the world (defined as the 193 UN member nations plus Taiwan, Kosovo, Palestine and the Vatican = 197) and so far have made it to 193. I am on track to visit most of the rest by early 2019 (with Yemen yet to plan). Mostly I travel solo, as while I have a terrific husband, he doesn’t get as many holidays as I do, and frankly he thinks it is bonkers to want to go to some of the places I go.
When I am not travelling, I spend a lot of time hiking. In 2016 I hiked over 3000 km, including 600km with 24,000m of climbing on the GR5 from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean in 14 days, 480km on the Kungsleden trail across Swedish Lapland in 12 days, 100km on the Teton Crest Trail, and many more kms on trails in South West USA and NZ.
I live in London with my wonderful hubby and two cats (Billie and Barry). Professionally, I work in retail strategy, am a trustee of Beat (the UK’s largest eating disorder charity) and a board member of Manaia and Whakaako.
Why all the countries in the world?
I made my first overseas trip from my native New Zealand when I was 14, visiting neighbouring Australia to play football. I loved it! – seeing new things, having new experiences and meeting new people. At the earliest opportunity I spent my available university student loan funds on travelling around Europe by train. I drank my body weight in cheap liquor, stayed in some truly dodgy hostels and made lots of friends. The backpacking was addictive and I met my hubby on a bus in Peru when I was travelling overland from NZ to Chicago to start my MBA. In my twenties and thirties as a management consultant I was lucky enough to live and work all over the world – working with retailers in France, the UK, Denmark, Czech, Australia, Argentina and China, and consumer goods companies in South Africa, Colombia, the Netherlands and the US.
My ambition really ramped up in 2010 when I started working for myself and realised I had already visited 35% of the world, so why not really go for it. Since then, I have been extremely opportunistic at finding opportunities to visit new countries while working, so it might be a side trip to Uruguay when I am in Sao Paolo on business, or an indirect flight back to London from Miami via Jamaica. I also take the long way home almost every time I go to NZ, and therefore have become at expert at finding unusual flight connections (my favourite so far was constructing a London to Auckland itinerary via Brunei, East Timor, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati and Tonga!). I also take off with my lovely hubby on nice trips to visit places we are both excited about – eating in Japan or hiking in the US National parks. Very occasionally I am blessed with a friend joining me on a voyage (thanks Tamara for meeting me in Ethiopia, Rob for coming to Uzbekistan and Lena to North Korea) but mostly I am happy travelling solo. I also enjoy re-visiting places (notably South Africa, Thailand, Colombia, Argentina, and Uzbekistan), and when the weather is fine it is hard for me to resist putting on my backpack and hiking in NZ or in the french alps.
As far as I can tell somewhere between 100-150 people have travelled to all the UN member states (thebesttravelled.com), so I certainly won’t be the first. But I might be the first NZ and maori woman to do so