How to travel five continents in one day

How to travel five continents in one day

During one 29-hour-long Monday, Gunnar Garfors accomplished the ultimate travel challenge
Gunnar Garfors
One day, five continents, job done.

Most of us will have only vague memories about what we got up to last Monday, June 18. But not Gunnar Garfors.

He earned a place in history (although his feat has yet to be verified by Guinness World Records), by traveling to five continents within a single day.

The idea grew into a plan when the 37-year-old Norwegian visited Istanbul a few years ago, a city that straddles two continents, and wondered: if you can visit two continents in a matter of seconds, how many can you visit in a whole day?

Five, it turned out, "as long as there are no flight delays!" he says.

So on June 18, Garfors, the CEO of Norwegian Mobile TV Corporation teamed up with British Adelia Television director Adrian Butterworth on a "continent run."

The trip took around 29 hours to complete, but with time zone changes they managed to do it within the same "day." 

The trip took them through Istanbul (Asia), Casablanca (Africa), Paris (Europe), Punta Cana (North America) and Caracas (South America).

See a trailer to a movie he produced about the extreme commute above, and read his thoughts on the experience below. 

More on CNNGo: Where the hell is Matt now? And what the hell is he up to?

Gunnar Garfors in Chile -- one of his less hurried trips. He has his footprints all over the world -- 174 countries in total.

CNNGo: What did you do to prepare for the day?

Most of the planning involved flight searches. When that was finally sorted out, I started getting in touch with local people that we could interview in each destination.

I primarily found them via the Internet and they all turned out to be spot on, helping us to see great places and tell us insider tales about what to do and what not to do in each place.

Part of the idea was not to use guidebooks but to only rely on those we met. 

CNNGo: What was the most memorable part of the day? 

Almost being arrested in Casablanca for doing an interview just outside the mosque.

We were first given a warning by the police, we then moved outside the mosque area and managed to do a five-minute interview before the police lost their temper and "kindly" asked us to [get lost].

CNNGo: What was the thing that drove you crazy? 

Haha, it's hard to drive me crazy. The only stress factor was the possibility of flight delays.  

Most people call me crazy for doing this though, including my brother. He called the trip "systemized madness" in an interview with a Norwegian newspaper.

CNNGo: Did you actually leave the airports each time?

Yes, and this was a very important part of the journey.

We had the shortest time in Paris (an hour and 55 minutes), but we still managed to leave the airport. Only to the train station though, but the architecture there was worth it.

We also did stand-ups in all the locations, none of them at the airport. And we got our passports stamped in each country.

We had to practically beg for them in France, as we both carry European passports. The French arrogance never ceases to surprise me.

Gunnar Garfors 5 continents 1 dayGunnar Garfors meeting locals in Punta Cana, where he managed to touch the water before taking off again.

CNNGo: Any interesting/weird conversations? 

Nawal [the local contact in Casablanca] talked us out of the police incident in Casablanca. She also ran every red light in town after picking us up from the airport. "You are in a hurry, aren't you?" she asked.

The same thing happened in Caracas where Angie [the local contact in Caracas] must also have an allergy against green traffic lights. She said it was because of security. "I'll rather get arrested than kidnapped. We can't stay around these green lights all night."

The same experiences the same day, but for different reasons in Africa and South America, was intriguing. 

CNNGo: What did you learn about the places you visited? 

Dominican Republic is amazing with its underground caves and crystal-clear pools with "endless" visibility.

The hospitality of our new friends in Caracas made us appreciate "the murder capital" of the world. People just walked up to us and started talking, always with a smile.

And in Caracas everything "takes 15 minutes…depending on traffic." Hehe…no one ever kept their appointments on time, but they always showed up eventually.

Istanbul is an incredible city! We were "warned" about the Asian side as there would be "nothing" to see there.

That was not true at all, it showed a less hectic side of the biggest city in Turkey, with a surprisingly vibrant nightlife and amazing cuisine. 

Adrian Butterworth (left) and GarforsDirector Adrian Butterworth (left) and Garfors may have missed dinner, but they got a world record.

CNNGo: What was the closest moment to missing the target? 

The last flight of the day from Punta Cana to Caracas. It boarded 30 minutes early, without calling us on the PA system.

Adrian Butterworth, the television producer and filmmaker documenting the trip, had to leave the meal he had ordered and run. I would have tortured him slowly had we missed the flight because of that.

CNNGo: What went through your mind when you finally finished? 

We had to fill out three forms to get into Caracas. I suddenly had the idea that they would for some reasons not let us in. The police officer even called a colleague over before he stamped the passport. That was two minutes that felt like 15.

When we finally got through it was this unique sensation! It was almost unreal. Two to three years of an unborn idea finally saw the light.

CNNGo: How have people reacted to the record?

Our contact Angie met us with four friends, all super enthusiastic and so excited about the record. That ended up as a proper celebration like a "New Year's party."

So the longest Monday ever didn't stop at midnight.

The Norwegian press went mad about this. Over 50 newspapers, radio stations and TV broadcasters covered it back home and the phone never stood still. Øystein, one of my brothers, came home and took care of most of the PR stuff for me.  

CNNGo: What's next? 

I am on a quest to visit all 198 countries of the world (193 UN countries, Vatican, Kosovo, Palestine, Western Sahara and Taiwan). I've been to 174 of them and plan to visit more next year.

Then again, we would like to visit all seven continents in one day too, but that calls for some sponsorship. We'll need a decommissioned Concorde. Hehe…we are eagerly awaiting sponsorship offers.


Hiufu Wong is CNN Travel's staff writer.

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