Meet the First Black Woman to Travel to Every Single Country and Continent

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Woni Spotts on Easter Island

Imagine traveling the world. Not just a few countries, but every country in the world. That is a feat that California-born Woni Spotts can say she’s done. In fact, in September 2018 Spotts reached the goal of visiting every country and continent in the world and received an official travel certificate from the Traveler’s Century Club on April 19, 2019.

Spotts has been traveling since she was a child when, with her parents, she traveled internationally with her parents, who were in the entertainment industry. As she got older, Spotts continued to travel. And at age 15 while in high school, she hosted a documentary from 1979 to early 1982 about her world travels.

She later went on to launch a successful eCommerce company, through which she funded her travels. During the mid-2000s, Spotts traveled to Monaco, France, and Southern Europe. Between 2014 and 2018, Spotts visited Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Spain, Italy, Vatican City, Turkey, The UK (England, Scotland, Wales) Ireland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Canada, Belize, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Samoa, Australia, India, Cambodia, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, Tanzania, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan.
Woni Spotts in Antartica

Hold on, there are even more destinations on Spotts’ travel list (though not officially countries): Greenland, Antarctica (4 territories), Tahiti, Easter Islands, The Galápagos, Hawaii, Transnistria, Western Sahara, Socotra, Tibet and The Canary Islands.

In all, Spotts has been to 195 countries and visited as well as 22 territories.

Spotts tells TNJ.com about her travels and what’s ahead for her.

TNJ.com: I understand you grew up traveling. What was that experience like as a young girl?

Woni Spotts: It seemed natural to visit different places and once home, it felt unnatural to see the same things day after day. As a teen, travel was therapeutic, an escape from the coming responsibilities over the horizon.

TNJ.com: As an adult, what made you want to continue to travel?

Woni Spotts: I  always wanted to visit the countries I had never seen. As an adult, my focus was expanded which added depth to the experiences.

TNJ.com: Please tell us about the documentary you did as a teenager.

Woni Spotts: The documentary’s aim was to visit every country and give a perspective from a young person’s point of view. Over 165 locations were visited. Funding and time became an issue so filming came to a halt in 1982. Post-production issues and the producer Nolan Davis’ health delayed the release. In 1989, the film was released by people unaffiliated with the project.

TNJ.com: Please tell us more about your eCommerce business.

Woni Spotts: I formed a business that purchases wholesale and sells to other companies.

 

Woni Spotts in Egypt

 

TNJ.com: When did you come up with the goal to visit every country and continent in the world?

Woni Spotts: In the beginning, I never intended to visit every country; the documentary had that goal. Later, my motivations were curiosity-driven and, in some cases, spiritually based. I was not racing, checking countries off of a list or posing in front of points of interest and leaving. I visited territories that were not countries. From 2014 to 2018, I did promise myself, I’d visit the countries and territories I had never seen.

TNJ.com: How did you fund your travels?

Woni Spotts: Early on, with my college funds. Later, with earnings from my company.

TNJ.com: What was the first country? What was the last?

Woni Spotts: Since my first travels were as a baby, I can’t be sure. I began keeping a journal from 1979-1982 to notate details in each country during the documentary. The last new country was Vatican city, making Vatican city the 197th country I visited. There are 193 United Nations countries and four additional countries including The Vatican, Palestine, Kosovo and Taiwan. I flew from Rome to Turkey to LAX September 2018.

TNJ.com: How many countries did you visit annually?

Woni Spotts: I would estimate, over 40 per year between 1979 to 1982 and between 2014 to 2018, I visited over 30 locations.

TNJ.com: What were your top 3 favorite places?

Woni Spotts: I don’t like to compare countries so I will say Polar regions, The Mediterranean and African Safaris.

TNJ.com: Now, what’s next for you?

Woni Spotts: I will continue to travel and I am writing a book.

TNJ.com: What do you say to people who say Blacks don’t travel?

Woni Spotts: It’s untrue. Black men and women from my father’s friend circle, born in the ’20s through the ’50s, traveled extensively for entertainment purposes, education and pleasure. Many Blacks live as American expats all over the world.

There are hundreds of women online posting their travels and I assure you, I personally know of dozens that do not post their continuing world travels online. Blacks travel!