Around the World in 86 Hours

Around the World in 86 Hours
Khawla Al Romaithi had to put in a lot of planning to execute her plan,

We talk to Dr Khawla Al Romaithi of the UAE, who recently bagged a Guinness World Record for travelling to seven continents in three days and 14 hours

Prannay Pathak
December 04 , 2020
15 Min Read
'BRB, travelling the world'—is what Khawla Al Romaithi must have told friends before she set off on her solo voyage across the seven continents of the world. Except that it wasn't much of a voyage; it was a fun jaunt that spanned visits to 208 countries and dependent territories. Khawla returned home after 86 hours! However, no doubt it was an epic expedition that she made in early February this year, when travel restrictions and the lockdown following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus hadn't yet been enforced.
 
The UAE has people of over 200 nationalities, and she wanted to see all the countries and cultures they belong to is what Khawla has told various media outlets. We now give you all the dope on her incredible feat.
 
 
Who is Khawla Al Romaithi—what do you do for a living?
I am a wife a mother and a full-time employee. I work as a Manager in information technology with one of the leading companies in Abu Dhabi called Borouge. I have a PhD in Strategy, Program and Project Management from Lille, France.

With God's grace I have been [successful] in my career. I was recognised with the Tawteen Award for best Supervisory/ Managerial role on UAE level, awarded to me by the Prime Minister of UAE, his Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, at the Presidential Palace, Abu Dhabi.

 Read: Motorcycle Diaries, Again: An Epic South American Adventure

What was the route that you took?
By the end of year 2019, I managed to see and enjoy 208 countries and dependent territories on my own pace. After being almost everywhere and gaining the experience, I decided to go for a record. The record entailed continuous travel across continents landing in at least one country. I had the freedom to choose my route. I started in Antarctica, and from there went to Africa. After that to Asia, and then to Europe. I then took off to North and South America before finally reaching my last destination, Oceania.

Read: These Forbidden Places Make for the Toughest Bucket List

How complicated was the planning and logistics for this trip?
I travel a lot and I am a very good planner. I had to focus on breaking the previous record for the fastest time to travel the seven continents, which was 92 hours 4 minutes and 19 seconds. As soon as I got the tickets time planned, I had to work on the visas and ensure all mandatory requirements related to the record were arranged. I assessed all risks and prepared a mitigation plan to ensure a smooth record attempt.

I just had to hope and pray that I get no delays in order to achieve my record. The hardest among all has always been Antarctica, since the weather is unpredictable there and can impact your plans. And indeed, this was what happened! I was notified that my travel schedule to Antarctica had been scheduled for earlier—I had just two hours to improvise and pack as I was to go to the airport after that!

That moment was the most challenging. I was either going to make it—or give up and forget about it and lose all the effort I had put into this record-breaking journey. I searched relentlessly for last-minute ticket availability, amended my existing tickets, booked two new destinations just to make it in time. I lost money but in such a case I could've lost more if I didn't take this step and moved forward.

No matter how good the plan was, there were multiple external factors that could have potentially destroyed it. Weather was the most significant and COVID-19 was on the rise at that time but not yet declared a pandemic.

Which were your favourite places OR any one place—city or country—you would like to spend the most time in?
My record to the seven continents was short. Luckily, I've been to all these places before. However, in my world travel prior to the attempt, the country I loved so much was truly India. I have been here so many times. I've been to Bangalore, the backwaters of Kochi, landmarks in the capital Delhi; Taj Mahal in Agra; Jaipur, the Pink City; up the peaks of Himachal Pradesh in Shimla; beautiful lakes and palaces in Udaipur. I like the food, culture, movies and people here.

We have many Indians in UAE and many of them are my friends. I felt being in a home far away from home. I plan to visit once the pandemic is over—probably go to Ladakh and also would like to try Palace on Wheels. I have not been to Chennai, Mumbai, Goa or Hyderabad. They're definitely on my list.

Read: 7 Travel Guinness Book World Records You Didn't Know About 

A fun tidbit from your trip?
The people whom I came across in this journey and knew I was attempting a record were the most supportive. They were cheering me through kept my morale high, in every country I've landed from the seven continents. I felt they were more excited than I was and many mentioned it was the first time they came across a Guinness World Records attempter. They were the energy that drove me to the finish line.


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