In an interview taken by Björn Þorfinsson, he claims I may be the most traveled person in Icelandic history. Whether or not that´s true, I definitely enjoyed his take on my mission. Here is a translation of the article, which you can find on dv.is:
It´s possible that Katrín Sif Einarsdóttir is the most widely traveled Icelander of all time. Despite being only 31 years old, Katrín Sif has traveled to 217 countries on the globe. It is worth mentioning that there are 195 recognized United Nations countries, but by, for example, counting Greenland and the Faroe Islands as countries instead of Denmark, it is possible to list about 230 countries.
Katrín Sif started traveling at a young age. Her father is Icelandic but her mother is from the South American country of Guyana. After her parents’ divorce, she grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but visited Iceland regularly. Just over a year ago, DV covered Katrín Sif’s milestone in being able to travel to 200 countries before the age of thirty. She succeeded when she stayed in the Mauritius over her birthday but then realised that she had thought wrong and was actually traveling to country number 201!
A journalist took the opportunity when Katrín Sif was in the country the other day to sit down with her and discuss the travels and lifestyle that she doubts she can ever give up. She is at a turning point because her father, Einar Óskarsson, died this summer. “Of course it was a big shock and it has taken a long time to complete all the loose ends.”
It´s not about competing in checking off countries
It is very unusual for Katrín Sif to be in Iceland during the winter months, as she says she is not a big fan of the Icelandic winter or the darkness that covers most of the day. “I often experience Icelanders as semi-bears, who go into hibernation in the winter but then play extra hard in the summer,” she says. Despite loving Iceland, she is more fond of following the sun. “Iceland has the biggest place in my heart. The more I travel the world, the more I love the country. Despite the fact that I have connections in many places, Iceland is always the place I call my home and that will never change, “says Katrín Sif.
For the past twelve years, Katrín Sif has taken on various types of tour guiding, especially horseback treks, during the summer months in Iceland, but then leaves the country in the autumn and travels around the world for 8-9 months. It is far from being a “check list” of countries by only stopping a short time. She takes her time in each place and tries to get to know the natives and their culture.
“I’m not in any particular competition to try to travel to all countries in the world in the shortest possible time. Of course I think about the number of countries and places I have visited, but I am doing this for myself, first and foremost. I often experience that others are more excited about the number more than I am, “says Katrín Sif.
She says she plans her travels so that she stays in similar cultural areas. “I do not jump between continents as it is expensive and very cumbersome. Not only the journey but also the thought of constantly adapting to different languages, customs and habits. For example, I traveled around West Africa on one trip, North Africa on another trip and so on, “says Katrín Sif.
I still have left to visit a handful of recognized countries, including Libya, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, the Central African Republic and South Sudan. “I have been having trouble getting a visa for the first three. The situation is unsafe in the other two, so I have only waited to visit them. I don’t mind “says Katrín Sif.
Her annual income never exceeds one million
Asked if she never gets enough of these trips, she says: “No, I really appreciate this lifestyle. I love to be free and do not invest much in worldly goods. ”According to Katrin, her paid annual income has never exceeded one million Icelandic kronas, so she has to travel very sparingly. She says she almost has a doctorate degree in finding cheap flights. “I am often hired to help family and friends find cheap fares. The thing is, major search sites often do not have a contract with the same low cost airlines. It is therefore necessary to search on several pages and in this way it is possible to put together a trip in the best way, “says Katrín Sif.
Since she has to keep track of the finances of her travels, she often chooses the cheapest option, so she travels a lot by bus. “It has not been a luxury to go on long bus journeys in Africa and most recently in India. But it is a great experience and you get more insight into the lives of the natives. However, this is probably not for everyone, “she says with a smile.
When it comes to accommodation, Katrín Sif takes unconventional paths. “I usually stay free with the locals through couchsurfing. It all depends on how conditions for hosts are, but in my opinion this is a very fun way to travel, “says Katrín Sif. For example, she visited Bangladesh for the first time recently and stayed with a Turkish pilot who lived in the country’s capital, Dhaka. “I had only been staying in his apartment for a few days when he was suddenly called to work. Then he just handed me the keys and asked me to lock them when I left, “says Katrín Sif and smiles. She says that such trust and friendliness is the rule rather than the exception in her travels and that is one of the reasons why she appreciates this mode of travel.
She expects to take on even more tasks as a tour guide abroad in the coming years. “This is what I know and live for, to travel. I took a group to South Africa a while ago and it went very well. I will work in some way in tourism in the future, “says Katrín Sif.