Published On: Sun, Nov 19th, 2023
Education | 4,343 views

‘I’m attempting to visit every country in the world in record time’ | Travel News | Travel

Michael Zervos

Michael Zervos is attempting to break the world record for visiting every country the fastest (Image: Michael Zervos)

Various reports suggest differing numbers and countless unverified attempts making it somewhat impossible to determine just how many people have completed the gargantuan task.

It is safe to say that the number is incredibly low, and certainly no higher than 600 or so people in history.

However, it is one thing to visit every country in the world, but it is an entirely different prospect to visit them all as fast as possible.

That colossal feat is being attempted by Michael Zervos, a director, producer, and storyteller from Detroit, Michigan.

Michael is attempting to become the fastest person in history to visit every country in the world as part of Project Kosmos, his race across the world where he is aiming to ask people in every country one simple question: “What is the happiest moment of your life?”

The parameters for visiting every country in the world are set out by Guinness World Records, setting the target of 195 – “the 193 UN Member States as of December 2018, the Vatican, a non-member observer State, and Chinese Taipei, which does not have member status but is effectively sovereign.”

The current fastest time to visit all sovereign countries (overall) is one year and 189 days, set by Taylor Demonbreun in 2018.

Michael will be attempting to beat that time when he begins his record-breaking journey in the beginning of 2024.

Michael is an experienced traveller, having visited 55 countries throughout his life, and he’ll be leaning on his past adventures to help him with the challenging logistical side of his global challenge.

Michael told “I am an adrenaline junkie, drawn to extreme challenges of the mind and body.

“The travel is very much a large puzzle, with many angles to consider. It cannot simply be ‘improvised’, lest you find yourself stuck in a country interminably waiting for a visa or flight.”

Meeting people from around the world is what Michael is most looking forward to on his journey, adding: “This project has always been people-centric, not about the pretty pictures or the food or the art or politics or anything else.

“It isn’t that I’m not interested in these things, but the travel world is inundated by material around these topics to the point of commoditization and devaluation.

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“So simply being able to meet and listen to stories from all sorts of people will be wonderful. It also gives me a good excuse to approach random strangers!” the budding record-breaker added.

As previously mentioned, Michael’s record attempt – Project Kosmos – is focussed around the question “what is the happiest moment of your life?”, a topic close to Michael’s heart following personal experiences in his life leading up to and during the pandemic.

The director and producer explained: “I realised how critical it was that some of the entertainment created after that be positive, uplifting, and inspirational because others were going through the same thing. Sometimes much worse.

“I knew I wanted to explore happiness on a global level, but in a more narrative-driven context rather than a systematic, sociological one,” Michael continued.

“I developed the question so that I could create storytellers out of the people I met who could draw upon their own life experiences rather than any external expertise.

“In other words, it’s a personal question with a lot of depth,” summarised Michael, before adding: “We’ll see how well the question is received once I start travelling.”

Although he has already visited 55 out of the 195 countries he is attempting to complete – with Greece, Brazil, and Morocco being particular highlights – that still leaves 140 brand-new countries for Michael to experience.

His best advice for fellow travellers visiting a new country, remember: “You’re a guest in someone’s home. Everyone should tread with that same kind of humility and deference.”

The most important item that Michael is taking with him on his adventure, and every previous trip is a spare battery or power bank.

“For better or worse, our phones run our lives…especially when we’re travelling in unfamiliar places. If it dies, things will get complicated fast.” Michael explained.

“I hope that everyone who follows my project will find at least one story that makes them smile, and perhaps makes them pause and consider the wonder of life.”

You can follow Michael’s epic record-breaking journey on Instagram (@theprojectkosmos) or on his website.

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