Out & About: Chris of The Art of Non-Conformity

out and about

From those putting their hearts out on the field to those exploring the road less traveled, the SunglassWarehouse.com crew is pumped to introduce our latest series, where we highlight men and women committed to seizing the day and going Out & About. Check back each month as we interview individuals who have played, explored, lived, and gone the distance in the great outdoors. 

Today we’re excited to bring you our interview with writer, traveler, and entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau. From 2002-2013 Chris visited every country in the world, often thanks to travel hacking. He wrote The $100 Startup and has also traveled to meet readers in every state, every Canadian province, and many countries. You can learn more about Chris, his work, and his travels by checking out his blog: The Art of Non-Conformity.

Chris Guillebeau in Bhutan

Chris on a trip to Bhutan

You set out on an inspiring mission to visit every country in the world. What inspired you to create such a goal and pursue it?

Chris: I began with a love of travel. It wasn’t like I hadn’t been anywhere and then said, “OK, I’m ready to visit 193 countries.” I just started visiting a lot of places, and when I had made it to more than 50 countries, I set a goal to visit 100. As I got closer to 100, I realized a more challenging goal would be to visit all of them.

What country did you visit first, and what was the last stop on your trip? Was there any significance to the order in which you visited each country?

Chris: The Philippines was my first overseas country, and Norway was the last on my 35th birthday. It wasn’t highly strategic, at least not until the last 50 or so countries. For the first 150 I was just traveling.

Chris in Bhutan

Chris in Bhutan

What has been your favorite and least favorite place to visit and why? Can you share a few highlights from your travels?

Chris: I don’t have a least favorite. As for favorites, there are several: South Africa, Liberia, Hong Kong, Lithuania, Laos — the list could go on. I spent four years living on a hospital ship in West Africa, and that served as a good foundation for everything else that came next.

During your travels, did you ever find yourself in a situation where you thought, “How did I end up here?”

Chris: Yes, many times. Once I was in Somalia, riding as the only foreigner in a minibus of other passengers. Another bus ride was 36 hours (!) from Kampala, Uganda, to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. There were a lot of experiences like that which helped me appreciate how big the world really is.

Chris at a AONC Small Army Meetup

Chris at an AONC Small Army Meetup

You have obviously been bitten by the travel bug and already accomplished an incredible feat. What (or where) is next for you?

Chris: I plan to keep traveling! These days, though, much more of my work is oriented around community and involving others. Every year I host the World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative people in Portland, Oregon. I’m also planning a major tour for my next book and running my online store, Unconventional Guides.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start traveling?

Chris: Just start. Pick a place and go — don’t worry about preparing much. Oh, and frequent flyer miles can help a great deal. Every year I earn more than a million miles and points, and that’s what has allowed me to see the world without spending a lot of money.

We are a sunglass store, after all, so we have to ask: Which pair of Sunglass Warehouse sunglasses would make for your perfect travel companion?

Chris: Hmmm, they all look great! Maybe one of these?

Thanks again to Chris for taking the time to chat with us! Be sure to check out his website for more on his travels.