Jessica Nabongo has traveled to all 195 countries in the world – as the first black woman. On the Internet and now also in the book, she reports on her experiences. But she keeps some things to herself on purpose.

A total of 195 countries are recognized by the United Nations – 193 members and the two permanent observer states Vatican and Palestine. The names of many countries are often not even known. But around 400 people have even traveled all of them. Jessica Nabongo is one of this small group.

On October 6, 2019, Nabongo fulfilled this dream with a flight to the Seychelles. Friends and family joined her as she became the first Black woman to visit every country in the world. Her goal was to reach that mark by her 35th birthday—it ended up taking a few months longer. Altogether, Nabongo made more than 450 flights for this purpose. Her book “The Catch Me If You Can” has just been published, in which she reports on her travels.

The view of the world as a black woman

In it, Nabongo gives insights into 100 countries that she has visited. The book is named after her successful blog, and the 38-year-old, who was born in Detroit, is also followed by more than 200,000 people on Instagram. In her book she shows her view of these countries – the view of a black woman. “We are so used to seeing the world through the eyes of white men,” complains the travel influencer, who has family roots in Uganda, in an interview with US broadcaster CNN. Often she is the only black person on a plane, sometimes she doesn’t see any other black people for weeks on her travels.

For Nabongo, it’s about representing people of her skin color, but also about using her book to advertise countries that often don’t have a good image, especially in the West. “It’s important to me to tell stories about places most people will never travel to and use my platform to make them appear in a more positive light,” she says. “I’ve found a lot of beauty in places where most people probably wouldn’t have expected it.”

Not everything ends up on Instagram

On her blog and Instagram page, Nabongo shares beautiful pictures from around the world and gives travel tips. But she prefers to keep some things to herself. As an influencer with a large audience, she also feels a responsibility: sometimes she only posts pictures, but not the name or geodata of the location, so that it is not overrun by holidaymakers and possibly destroyed.

However, Nabongo can elicit a few insider tips. She raves about “blind travel,” something that has become almost impossible in modern times: visiting places you’ve never seen a picture of before, where you don’t know what to expect. “Everyone travels to Bali or Morocco and does the same things there. I’m not interested in that,” she says. Instead, she recommends countries like Yemen, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia or South Sudan. “There are so many countries that people don’t think are valuable in terms of tourism, but I had a great time there,” she says. However: If you actually want to travel to the countries mentioned, you should first find out about the security situation on site.

Sources: CNN / “The Catch Me If You Can” / Jessica Nabongo on Instagram