But for Jessica Nabongo, a UN employee turned travel blogger, becoming the first black woman to visit every country on Earth isn’t just about getting her name in a record book – it’s about paving the way for women and people of color to do the same.
Nabongo’s experiences traveling the world undercut many of the exhortations travel brands have to “live like a local,” being able to seamlessly blend in anywhere simply by changing clothes or ordering coffee a certain way. Often, as the only person of color in a crowd, she stood out whether she wanted to or not. Nabongo also has dark skin and shaves her head.
To date, there are about 150 known people who have been to every country, the majority of whom are white men traveling on European passports – the ones who have the option to “blend in” in more places.
As of April 2018, there were 193 recognized countries in the United Nations, plus two with “non-observer status.”
Since she began her project in earnest in 2016, Nabongo has been to 109 of them. Her goal is to reach 172 by the end of 2018, and the remaining countries by summer 2019.