Gunnar Garfors has travelled to every single country in the world — all 198 of them.
And he did it by the time he turned 37 years old, a pretty impressive accomplishment considering all the obscure countries he had to visit.
It’s thanks to three very simple items that Garfors made it through these countries: a printed out itinerary, a small notepad, and a pen.
His itinerary included all the details of his trip, from the addresses of the hotels he was staying at to the official exchange rate for that country’s currency.
Here’s why Garfors never travels without these things.
1. Carrying around a piece of paper is safer than carrying around a laptop or iPad.
Garfors points out that if locals in poor countries notice a foreigner toting expensive gadgets such as a phone, iPad, or laptop, they’re more likely to try and steal from that tourist. Plus, you might end up paying more for certain services.
“If I come to a poor country it can be a faraway place. Of course I have everything on my laptop or iPad, but if you show this to the taxi driver, this is probably twice his yearly wage and if he sees you have this expensive gear, he might overcharge you. Other people who see this, you’re likely to be robbed by them because you’re displaying really expensive gear to them,” Garfors explains.
2. Some airports don’t accept electronic tickets.
Garfors remembers an airport he encountered in India that does not allow people in unless they have a printed out ticket for their flight. Garfors was forced to return to the city, find an Internet cafe, and print his ticket. For that reason, he makes sure to print his tickets out as a part of his itinerary.
3. You might encounter people who don’t speak English.
Garfors brings a small notepad with him in case he’s trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak his language (and Garfors doesn’t speak theirs). That way, he can draw what he’s trying to say.
“I did this in Iran, I had to draw my dinner in order to get served, and I’m a horrible drawer. I had chicken for me and a cow for my brother, and we actually got served what I managed to draw,” Garfors says.
4. If you don’t have a pen, you’ll end up waiting to fill out forms.
According to Garfors, many of the countries he visited throughout his travels require visitors to fill out certain forms in order to enter the country. This process can be especially slow when you don’t have a pen handy and need to wait to borrow someone else’s.
“If you don’t have a pen you’re going to be the last one in the line to enter the country. You’re going to have to wait two or three hours because everyone has their own pen and you have to borrow from the security guard or passport control officer,” Garfors says.
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