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Utah man traveling to every country in the world in record time

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SALT LAKE CITY — It is the dream of many to see the world, but very few actually get the chance to make it their reality. A Utah man is living that fantasy, and he's inviting anyone willing to come along for the ride.

Eric Hill of Salt Lake City caught the travel bug when he was just a kid. In 2010, the BYU graduate dreamed up the idea of visiting all 194 UN-recognized countries — in record time.

"I realized if I was going to do it, I had to do it now in life," he said. "This is something that if I traveled to every country in the world in a short amount of time, this is about the last time in life that I can do that."

In a world full of news that wants to scare you outside of anything outside your own border, I want to be the one telling everybody that even in the craziest places, awesome exists.

–Eric Hill, The Global Odyssey

Hill's dream took shape in the form of The Global Odyssey — a project created to "show that awesome exists in every country, especially with the people." From the time of the project's conception, Hill spent hundreds of hours researching, mapping and planning the details and logistics for his one-of-a-kind journey around the globe.

The official project launched in October of last year, and Hill has been globetrotting ever since. His goal is to make it to all 194 countries in three years — a new world record.

In order to keep costs low and experiences true, Hill skips hotels when he can — opting instead to stay with locals and experience life as a citizen of each country he visits. He said he's more than happy to sacrifice comfort for authenticity.

"I'll sleep in a sweaty desert with cockroaches crawling all over me on a dirt floor in somebody's hut, and that's what I love the most," he said.

Hill, who has more than 500 fans on Facebook, is documenting his adventures on social media. He and his team produce photos, video, tweets and blog posts featuring his daily adventures with travel, food, animals, extreme sports and culture.

Hill said the power of social media has been unparalleled in helping him find places to stay and things to do.

"One contact leads to another, and then somebody finds out that I haven't been to this country so I'll get an invite out to there," he said.

Eric's Journey: By the numbers
Goals of The Global Odyssey:
  • 194 countries
  • 150 flights
  • 145,000 miles traveled
  • 800 days away from home
  • 150 passport stamps
  • 8 immunizations
  • 100,000 pictures taken
  • 180 ways Eric says "hello"

Interactive maps on his website allow fans to track his current location, where he's been and where he's headed next.

Hill is even taking the project a step further — inviting fans to vote on Facebook and his website about what he should be doing with his time in each place. If fans vote for him to feast on a meal of scorpions, Hill said he'll grab his fork. Find him a waterfall from which to dive, and he'll suit up.

Hill said he wants to make a difference while realizing his own dream. The Global Odyssey has teamed up with several charities in various parts of the world to raise awareness and funds for projects improving the lives of people across the globe.

"We have the opportunity to do it all over the world and pick the best of the best," he said. "That part of it is really fun too."

Hill said the plan is to eventually produce a full-feature documentary, as well as collect 150 stamps in his passport. If he accomplishes his goal, he'll also become the youngest person to attempt this feat.

"In a world full of news that wants to scare you outside of anything outside your own border, I want to be the one telling everybody that even in the craziest places, awesome exists," he said.

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Jessica Ivins


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