American world traveler ends his globe-trotting days in Saudi Arabia

Tue, 2021-11-02 00:48

JEDDAH: “October 29, 2021 at 1:31 a.m. — I crossed the border into Saudi Arabia, my 197th & FINAL country!” After 10 years touring the world, American travel blogger Drew Binsky successfully reached his finish line in the Kingdom, posting the above words to his Facebook account.

Landing at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Binsky, from Arizona, posted his final travel vlog to his social media platforms, saying: “I finally made it to every country in the world.”
His decade-long journey kicked off while spending a semester abroad in Prague, visiting 20 European countries. Years later and while working as an English instructor in Seoul, South Korea, he decided to go even further.
A world traveler and content creator, Binsky visited 197 countries and told stories about their peoples and cultures to his online community of 9 million followers through his vlog. He has over 4 billion video views.
Saving the best for last, he was welcomed by a cheering crowd of supporters at the Gathering Café in the heart of Jeddah.
“It’s been amazing. The kindness of strangers and the support of everybody has been incredible,” he said to his Saudi and expat followers, who waited for hours to meet him.
After having toured the world, Binsky told his fans that he was happy to be in Saudi Arabia: “I wanted to conclude my journey in Saudi Arabia because I heard so much about it and I knew it has been changing so rapidly. So far, I have not seen it all but I’m looking forward to seeing other parts of the country during my two-week stay here.”
On his first visit to Saudi Arabia, Binsky spent two days in Jeddah, exploring the city and sharing his experiences with his followers.
When a young Saudi asked him what his first impression of Saudi Arabia was, Binsky replied that he had “received nothing but warm hospitality (and) incredible food” and was “really enjoying” his stay.
He told the packed meeting room that he was looking forward to discovering tourist attractions in the Kingdom and that he was planning to travel to the northern and southern parts of Saudi Arabia, in addition to Riyadh and AlUla.

FASTFACTS

• Drew Binsky’s decade-long journey kicked off while spending a semester abroad in Prague, visiting 20 European countries.

• He was welcomed by a cheering crowd of supporters at the Gathering Café in the heart of Jeddah.

Speaking to Arab News about why he chose Saudi Arabia as his last destination, Binsky explained: “Two years ago, I had 30 countries left in my journey. I looked at the map and said to myself that I really love the hospitality of the Middle East and the culture of the Islamic world. So, I figured that Saudi Arabia should be my last destination because it is the home of Islam and, as far as I know, it is the most powerful country in the region. It is also the country that most people from my part of the world do not know much about.”
He also expressed his admiration for the developments that the Kingdom has been undergoing: “I believe that the coming years will hold a bright future for the country, and I expect that Saudi Arabia will be different because I see the government is working hard to make it a tourist hub. As far as I see, there’s definitely potential.”
He told Arab News that he wants to inspire people to travel, to introduce them to new places and cultures and to break stereotypes. “I like to get to know cultures, meet with people and show their side of the story.”
The American traveler always thought his life would be somewhat traditional: Graduate university, get a corporate job, get married, and have kids.
“I decided to move to South Korea to teach English because as an American who grew up in Arizona, I knew little about life and cultures outside the US.”
While teaching English in Asia, the 29-year-old visited North Korea in 2012, where he documented life there in his videos, which were seen by 10 million people on his Snapchat account.
It was when his girlfriend bought him a DSLR camera that he decided he would travel to every country in the world and document his journey across social media, becoming a full-time traveler.
While he initially traveled on a budget, Binsky explained that travel vlogging has become quite lucrative for him in recent years.
The blogger found sponsors, and he used the earnings to further his travels.
When the pandemic took the world by surprise, Binsky saw this as an opportunity to enjoy the journey rather than rush to the finish line.
“I kept going, albeit slowly. It was really crazy and hard to process for a while, but I consider myself lucky,” he said.
When asked what would come next after his visit to Saudi Arabia, Binsky said: “I want to keep traveling. I want to keep creating content on a bigger and better scale, which means involving a bigger team and creating better productions. And I really want to grow the community so I can continue to educate and inspire through my videos.”

US traveler Drew Binsky at Jeddah airport. Below: On his first visit to Saudi Arabia, Binsky spent two days in the port city, sharing his experiences with his followers. (Photos/Saleh Fareed)
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