Gunnar Garfors is a Norwegian traveller who is one of the most travelled people in the world and the only person who is known for (at the time of this article) having visited every country in the world twice.
What are three of your favourite countries and why?
Every country in the world is among my favourites in one way or another, but let me pick three countries on different continents for this one.
Madagascar is called the eighth continent for a reason. The country’s diversity is just wild. Not only can it boast of incredible scenery and very hospitable people, but the food is also world-class and comes with a very low price tag.
South Korea is one of the most undervalued countries in Asia, often neglected or forgotten when it comes to discussions about where to go on holiday. I love the long history, the slick innovation when it comes to technology, their never-stopping party genes and the stark contrasts between Seoul and towns and villages elsewhere. Their food is also mouth-watering.
Chile is so long and narrow that almost everything in terms of nature can be found here. I particularly love the southern part that includes the Patagonia region it shares with Argentina and its fun and thriving capital Santiago. People are also super friendly, and they sure know how to party here too.
What are three of your best travel tips?
Go jogging wherever you go
To go for a run is an excellent way to get to know a new place and to discover hidden treasures such as restaurants, bars, parks, beaches and hidden paths that you would otherwise never have found. Many of these are worth revisiting later when wearing different kinds of shoes. As a foreigner, you will usually stand out, also when you jog. Use this to your advantage and get in touch with locals and fellow travellers alike.
This especially applies if you smile to those that you pass on your run. Also, when you are on vacation, many of us sit still more than usual, whether in plane seats or on beach chairs. This tends to show on your waistline after your holiday. And finally, if you bring a smartphone or a camera, you are almost guaranteed to come across good photo ops, places you would otherwise never have seen had it not been for your run.
Don’t use guidebooks
Then you’re putting your travel experiences in the hands of some random traveller that visited your destination at some point in time, most likely stayed for a short time and only spoke to a few people. The info is most probably outdated, and you will end up doing the tourist walk of shame, doing exactly the same thing as “everyone” else. Merely following what some random person has written in a guidebook is like plagiarising another person’s holiday. It isn’t illegal, but man, how unoriginal. Live your own holiday!
Furthermore, the owners of the bars, cafés and restaurants aren’t stupid. When they one lovely day notice, by an increased number of foreign visitors, that they have in fact been listed in, i.e. Rough Guides, they will naturally hike their prices. Of course! Wouldn’t you have? With brigades of well-off foreigners coming from nowhere into your business? I mean, travellers are often pretty well off and might not mind or care if prices go up 30%. But locals do, of course. So, you will end up in places that accommodate foreigners. And of course, those wanting to hook up with foreigners, trying to get you to buy them drinks. Finally, it doesn’t exactly make you seem like a friendly person, sitting on the bus or a bench with your nose into a guidebook, instead of actually engaging with locals, asking them what you should do.
Travel with hand luggage only
It makes your trip so much more flexible, better for the environment and fun. Instead of buying clothes back home, wash your clothes locally and buy new local products. That boosts the local economy. Any wannabe robber can see that I can’t possibly be carrying much of value, so they are less likely to bother. It is also more relaxed as I look less serious with hand luggage only and I might not even be considered a tourist. It looks like I’m just chillin’ and that I presumably know what I am doing, even in a new place. “He doesn’t even have a big suitcase. He must have been here before.”
Never turn down the possibility to travel, whether domestically or abroad. Your only bad trip (unless you do hard drugs) will be the one you didn’t go on.