35-year-old Jessica Nabongo visited every country in the world that is 195 UN member countries and some states such as Palestine and Vatican and became the first black woman to visit all the countries in just 2 and a half years. She dived off the coast of Colombia, did private jetting to Art Basel in Miami and explored Buddhist pagodas in Burma.
She ended her journey in Seychelles, off the coast of East Africa. She documented her journey on her Instagram account and blog, “Catch Me If You Can”. She posted, “Welcome to the Seychelles!! Country 195 of 195! So much to say but for now I will just say thank you to this entire community for all of your support. This was our journey and thanks to all of you who came along for the ride!!”
In Seychelles, her family and friends joined her for celebrating her achievement. Her achievement is more significant in terms of representation and she never wants to take it for granted. Jessica Nabongo used her Instagram account to educate her followers about xenophobia, condemn rac-ism, ethical travel and self-care in the busy lifestyle.
She said in an interview that she always wanted to travel the world and was a huge geography nerd and travel has always been a part of her life. She always used to say that she would do it by her 40th birthday, but then in 2017, she finally decided to do it by 2019, when she was 35.
By 2017, she has already visited 40 countries. But she never told anyone her plan, she didn’t want anyone to beat her for this and she went with her quest publically in 2018.
When Jessica Nabongo was 4 years old she traveled to Canada and by the age of 18, she has already visited Jamaica, the UK, the Cayman Islands and Uganda.Jessica Nabongo grew up in Detroitand has both US and Ugandan passports, which has helped her to visit the nations, which were not amenable to American tourists. Jessica Nabongo has been writing a travel blog since 2009, for keeping her friends and family updated and now she uses her Instagram account which has more than 90,000 followers.
She said, “People look at a photo of me in Bali and they say, ‘That’s cool, I want to go to Bali.’ But everyone needs to ask themselves, ‘What is your why? Why do you want to do what it is you want to do?’ I hope people would be more reflective than reactive. Not just like, ‘Oh Bali, that’s a cute picture, I want to go.’”
On being asked, what makes it to her Instagram, she said, is “a fraction of my life. There’s a lot of really things that go on behind the scenes.” She recounted her visit to the Eastern European Nation and said that she never wants to visit that place again, not because it is a poor country, or she got ripped off while exchanging money, or taxi driver charged her double, it’s because the reception was not friendly. She said that she is a seasoned traveler, being a foreigner, she was always taken advantage of, especially in poor countries, but now, she doesn’t mind it. Some people even helped her, when she would tell them what is she trying to achieve. She ended her quest on 6th October, which was her father’s birthday. She said, “Had he not gotten a scholarship to Western Michigan, none of this would be happening.”