Canadian Globetrotter Heads Home After Ends 23-Year Trek

A superla­tive like ‘World’s Most Trav­eled Man’ might sound inher­ent­ly unof­fi­cial, but few peo­ple on the plan­et can match the globe-trot­ting exploits of Mike Spencer Bown. Ear­li­er this month, the 44-year-old man returned to his home­town of Cal­gary for the first time since 1990. Dur­ing his absence, Bown says he set foot in more than 190 coun­tries ― but num­bers don’t even begin to describe his experience.

Bown’s trav­els were so exten­sive that he recent­ly post­ed a guest blog on Back­pack­ol­o­gy that detailed the ‘Top 80 High­lights’ he encoun­tered through­out the world. His list (which may cause feel­ings of inse­cu­ri­ty and self-doubt among read­ers) includes the fol­low­ing entries:

  • “Look­ing down upon the world from Mt. Ever­est Base Camp”

  • “Liv­ing in a leaf hut with an African Pygmy tribe, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of Congo”

  • “Check­ing out the “Red Neck” Inu­it bar scene, Nook, Greenland”

  • “Trekking through rain­forests vil­lages to the lost city of the Taironas [in Colombia]”

  • “Island hop­ping past steam­ing vol­ca­noes and Komo­do drag­ons in Nusa Teng­gara, Indonesia”

Seri­ous­ly, the entire list reads like this. Bown also told Back­pack­ol­o­gy that he has been arrest­ed “more times than he can count” dur­ing his world­wide trek, though his time behind bars cer­tain­ly did­n’t damp­en his atti­tude toward any of the places he vis­it­ed. When asked what his favorite coun­try was, Bown cir­cum­vent­ed the ques­tion by stat­ing that “a true trav­el­er” should vis­it every place. “Every­one should even go to Azer­bai­jan?” asked Back­pack­ol­o­gy founder Steve McDon­ald. “Espe­cial­ly Azer­bai­jan,” Bown replied.

Bown even man­aged to vis­it a few places that are gen­er­al­ly con­sid­ered off-lim­its for West­ern trav­el­ers. He famous­ly stymied Soma­li immi­gra­tion offi­cials when he touched down in Mogadishu in 2010; one of the cus­toms agents lat­er told the Asso­ci­at­ed For­eign Press that Bown was the “first per­son to come to Mogadishu” as a tourist. He also vis­it­ed Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sudan dur­ing his time abroad. 

Bown’s home­town paper, The Cal­gary Sun, recent­ly award­ed him the title of ‘most exten­sive­ly trav­elled per­son in human his­to­ry’. When asked what he learned dur­ing his trav­els, he replied: “Peo­ple are basi­cal­ly good and worth know­ing what­ev­er the race or cul­ture they hail from”.

No word yet on whether Dos Equis has approached him about becom­ing their new spokesman.