One crazy travel adventure remembered ….. and how I eventually discovered Bhutan!

One crazy travel adventure remembered ….. and how I eventually discovered Bhutan!

Bhutan & Beyond in the cockpit of TACA Airlines
TACA tech crew were happy to welcome us to the cockpit out of San Salvador

One crazy travel adventure remembered ….. and how I eventually discovered Bhutan!

Now that international travel is all but impossible I thought it timely to recall a little journey my cousin John Bougen and I took 18 years ago – ‘The All Nations Quest’. The idea was John’s; simply put, travel to every nation in the world as fast as possible and in support of ‘Save The Children’. I (being James Irving of Bhutan & Beyond) was roped along for my longtime travel agency legacy to aid and abet this process. John was fortunately funding this feat!

The Stats

One of our 5 log books required by Guinness World Records
One of our 5 log books required by Guinness World Records
  • Departed Auckland, NZ, on 28AUG 2002
  • Terminated Auckland, on 12FEB 2003
  • 167 days, 15 hours and 39 mins travel time
  • Traveled to 191 of the (then) 193 nations as advised by Guinness
    (the two we missed will make for another story!)
  • 191 flight sectors plus a myriad of coach/taxi/train/ferry sectors
  • Flew on 104 different airlines
  • Awarded 3 separate Guinness World Records
  • We travelled with 3 passports each, John with 3 concurrent Kiwi passports (first person to ever have been provided that) and I with two Aussie and one Kiwi passport.
  • Two books were produced from the journey and sales remuneration passed to Save The Children

Damned Hard Work

James Irving With the 'Save The Children' crew & villagers in Quelimane, Mozambique
With the ‘Save The Children’ crew & villagers in Quelimane, Mozambique

The ‘All Nations Quest’ may sound like the most fabulous journey of a liftetime. While it most certainly was the ‘journey of a lifetime’ it was incredibly stressful, despite our happy smiles above. We averaged 3-4 hours sleep a night for 6 months, sometimes flew 5 sectors in a day and in every nation we had to find a small child to photograph and ask the question ‘If any dream could come true what would it be?’ That was the basis for our book ‘Listen to the Children’ (more on that in a future blog). As many of our nation stopovers were under 2 hours that was itself a major challenge at times. Because we were often ‘running on empty’ due lack of food & sleep.

More to come in a week or so.

Article by James Irving – Bhutan Travel Expert

James Irving Bhutan Travel Expert

James has worked in the travel industry for over 40 years & has been involved in the leisure, corporate, group, sport, incentive & wholesale travel genres.

James loves rugby union, and keenly supports the Queensland Reds and the Australian Wallabies.