Drew Binsky: Just Going to 197 Countries

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Vlogger Drew Binsky rides a camel in front of the pyramids of Giza. Drew Binksky photo.

Meet the Young Man Who Visited 197 Nations
By Age 30: Drew Binsky

By Sarah Arksey
Associate Writer

In 2021, acclaimed travel vlogger Drew Binsky made headlines when he completed his goal of visiting every country in the world– at just 30 years old!

With over a decade of international travel under his belt, Binsky has built a successful brand and shared his experiences with more than 12 million followers across all of his social media platforms.

Binsky’s first trip abroad was in 2009 when he visited Israel as part of the Birthright program, which subsidizes trips for young Jewish people from around the world.

However, he caught the travel bug during his junior year of college, when he studied abroad in Prague and subsequently chose to move to South Korea to teach English upon graduation.

Seoul is where he began his blog, initially called the “Hungry Partier”- which, as one may expect, focused on restaurants and nightlife. Binsky’s traveling became more intentional when he met Lee Abbamonte, a fellow globetrotter who visited every country in the world by the age of 31.

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Read Drew Binsky’s Bestselling Book: Just Go

Abbamonte had a similar travel origin story, beginning his journey with a junior year study abroad stint in London.

“I wanted to beat his record,” Binsky relayed, “We have traveled to several countries together, and he really helped show me the way for traveling”.

To this day, Binsky considers Abbamonte a “good friend and mentor”.

Final Country: Saudi Arabia

The final country Binsky touched down in was Saudi Arabia. Binsky says that one of the most fulfilling aspects of travel is getting to visit parts of the world that have been labeled as “dangerous” on the international stage.

One experience that has stuck with him took place at a busy market square in Iran: “I walked around and bought some things and everything was fine.

But as I was walking out, I suddenly got chased down the street by some guy who was sprinting after me. At first, I was pretty alarmed and thought to myself, ‘What the hell is going on?’ When I turned to face him, I noticed that he was waving money at me—the equivalent of 50 US cents.

And he’s like, ‘man, you forgot your change!’” This experience opened Binsky’s eyes to the above-and-beyond integrity of the people of Iran– a country which he feels that many Americans fear, “because of their perception based on political views”.

Talking with the Pres

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Binsky’s new friend Bashar shows him around Mogadishu, Somalia.

Binsky has spoken to fascinating people worldwide, including breathwork leader Wim Hof, the president of Belize, and an Aghori cannibal. When asked which conversation has stuck with him the most, he took me through his experience in Somalia’s capital city, Mogadishu, where he met a local man named Bashar.

“When I told him of my plans to visit Somalia, he offered to not only help me obtain a visa but also offered to give me a personal tour of his country. He kept me safe– and he showed me a side of Mogadishu that no one has ever seen,” Binsky reminisced, giving full credit to Bashar for his Somalian chapter– “If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get the visa or experience his country through his eyes”.

Binsky stresses that connecting with locals is perhaps the most integral piece of any international journey. “It changes the whole experience and makes everything just that much better! I cannot [emphasize enough] how vital it is to intentionally connect with the locals, no matter where you are.”

Benefits of Befriending Locals

He goes on to highlight the many benefits of befriending locals– including assistance with directions, translation, and safety, help finding the city’s “hidden gems”, and the opportunity to “learn about their culture and customs from an insider’s perspective.” His number one tip for connecting with locals? “Remember to smile! Everyone smiles in the same language.”

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Drew holds some of his vlogging equipment in Saudi Arabia.

Binsky reiterates his passion for breaking the perception that visiting certain countries should induce fear: “The world is safer than you think.

And 99.999% of people in the world are good, positive, happy, and uplifting people that want to share their countries, culture, and stories with those visiting in the hope of making a new friend or three at the same time.”

Some of his favorite “dangerous” countries include Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Venezuela.

What’s Next?

When someone has seen the entire world at such a young age, one may wonder: what’s next?

‘Binsky prioritizes quality over quantity– “Instead of focusing on the countries I travel to, I want to focus on stories and experiences of the people I meet during my travels.  Whether I’m going to Montana or Michigan or Mexico or Madagascar. I want to find and share the impactful and powerful stories that inspire me along the way.”

When pried specifically about his next travel move, he revealed that a return to northwestern China is next on the docket. He’s headed to Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) the only part of China with a majority Muslim population.

“This region is home to many ethnic groups who practice Islam, including the Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Hui and the Uyghurs” the latter of which have been practicing Islam since the 10th century. “I’m looking forward to exploring the aspects of this phenomenal culture, which has been overlooked by most of the world.”

Making Connections

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Binsky rides a rickshaw in Amritsar, India.

With his unique perspective of having traveled internationally before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic, Binsky believes that– against all odds– the world is becoming more connected than ever before. He credits social media for this– specifically, the rise of platforms like Meetup and Couchsurfing, which “provide a way to connect with local people no matter where you travel to.” 

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Binsky speaks in Los Angeles.

With all of this being said– where in the world is Drew Binsky now?

“I’m currently in the middle of a 10-city book tour for Just Go, which kicked off in Berlin and will end in Manila, with eight U.S. cities in between. I’m hoping that this tour will provide an opportunity for me to meet people, and hopefully inspire them to travel more.”

The title of his book is also his motto– “Those are the two words I wear across my chest every day.

Whether it’s driving to a neighboring town, buying your first plane ticket or traveling to a place you’ve always dreamt of visiting, take a leap of faith and “just go!”

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Sarah Arksey

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