Is he the biggest Indian traveller? Interview with Ravi Prabhu

31 July, 2023 | Blog, Interviews

Meet Ravi Prabhu, a fearless adventurer and travel influencer from India, who has embarked on a remarkable journey to visit every country in the world. Despite being a family man with a full-time job, Ravi has managed to explore 189 countries so far, with plans to conquer the last three in the near future.

His passion for geography and unique experiences in each country drives him, making his adventures not just a personal quest, but also an inspiration for others. In this conversation, Ravi shares insights into his travel style, his YouTube channel in Telugu language, and his determination to explore the world’s cultures and meet local people wherever he goes.

 

This interview is also available in video format on our Youtube channel.

 

I understand now you are visited 189 countries and probably anytime soon you will visit every country in the world so my first question to you like what drives you? Why are you doing this, because all of us have different reasons for that

I was born and raised in India and middle class in India when I was born versus middle class in the US or Europe is quite different middle class in India then was basically struggling for anything beyond basic needs like you get food you get shelter you get College you get a bike and all that that is pretty common but to to do anything beyond certain things is considered a luxury in India when I was growing up India has changed by leaps and bounds now so now India is as rich as any other country but there were challenges then so somehow I was so fascinated and interested in geography I always used to carry a book Atlas always used to refer it was a dream.

I was very good with geography I was able to point any place any geographical feature within a few seconds but then I was always dreaming I would get to London someday that was my dream but then how things turn I came to the U.S to study to do my education and to college and then though I was in college I was saving up money and still visited one or two countries every year though I didn’t have enough money so it was a passion it was a fascination and then it started rolling and then initially when I touched my 50 countries I was like “why can’t I do 100” and when I touched 100, I was like “why can’t I visit every country in the world” so this wasn’t really a goal or a childhood dream but the dream was to see a lot of countries and then I came to this particular step.

I’ll tell you why my journey is very fascinating. Most of the travellers that I know are full-time travellers or they don’t really have a job and they travel as part of sharing videos or something of that sort in my case I completed my education I’m married I have a wife and a kid I have a career and in spite of all this I still traveled my number is 192 because we go by 195 I know you don’t consider North Korea but I crossed the DMZ for me it is 192 or 195. 

 

Wow that’s like pretty impressive indeed you know combining all the family,  life,  career and other things is not easy. I would like just to ask you – What do you? do you Where do you live and what do you do for work? 

So I I live in Richmond Virginia in the U.S I’ve been living in the U.S for more than two decades so I am born Indian my culture is Indian everything is Indian except my passport which is the problem now I have an American passport now and because of that I cannot travel to North Korea you understand so that’s why I mean if if there was a way I could travel to North Korea with my American passport I would

do it tomorrow but since I cannot travel into North Korea because of restrictions in the U.S DMZ is the best I could do and I’ve done it twice and then I have three countries left which is Libya, Venezuela and now and I plan to finish all these three countries in the next one or two months. I I work as a consultant and currently I’m in a sabbatical because I was working with a federal government job because of that I couldn’t travel to Iran or Turkmenistan or Syria so I took a break and then once I finished my 193 195 I will get back to work so I’ve been working as a consultant I do Information Technology some kind of change management is what I do and I live in Virginia as I told you and I make sure I travel at least 20 countries even with a job so I make my vacation spread out plan it plan work and life according very methodically and accomplished you know

 

I have a friend who is pushing the idea that it’s possible to travel even if the person is working like on the regular of a job and when he was like doing the smart calculations you know like adding all the weekends all the holidays all the religious holidays some taking like paid and unpaid vacations he found let at least 100 day during the year it’s actually possible to travel you just need to do the proper calculation and proper planning obviously and then here you are you know you are Ravi who is visiting almost every country in the world

I have little disadvantage I tell you because I don’t live in Europe or in Dubai my travel is maybe two or three three times more expensive and two or three times more difficult imagine you’re living in Paris you can do all 47 countries of Europe in maybe every weekend but for me it’s a flight out and flight back in so it’s a little more challenging than living in somewhere Central of the world map so but in spite of that if I could do it anybody can do 

 

At Nomad Mania we have a special list called the Low Passport Index where we try to praise people who originate from countries with a difficult passport like China, Thailand, India, Philippines and bunch of other places where it’s really not easy to travel and Ravi you’re number nine that means you are in the top ten of low passport index countries according to United Nations list which is which is not bad. 

I’ll take it as a challenge to be number one 

 

 I really feel that there are a few things in common between us, first of all I am from Ukraine it’s also a developing country like India and until let’s say seven years ago Ukrainians also were required to have visas to most countries in the world now our passport is better because we got recognised and supported by The United States. Also, India became my first country where I spent long periods of time outside of Europe so I immersed myself in different culture and basically back in 2010, a new freshly graduated student, I was doing an internship in India and I spent six months there. I visited at least half of the Indian States and basically thanks to India and thanks to all the experience I got there, I caught the travel bug.

I get very emotional because the the fact is we appreciate India even more because we don’t live in India so I average at least two or three trips to India and I almost covered all the states I mean there are about five states I have yet to complete so I’ve been to every corner of India and this year in 2022 and 2023 I’ve been to India six times.

 

In Nomad Mania we practice a statement “show me your map and I will tell who are you” within our Travellers Community. It’s possible to tell a lot about a person who is actually traveling. Looking on your map I can definitely tell that you are methodically working to visit every country, it’s like mostly like the Capital Areas or the places where there is an airport so you can fly in and fly out. So this is my second challenge question to you and don’t take it personally but are you a country ticker?

I wasn’t initially. I’ve been to Thailand more than 30 times I’ve been to France and Italy more than 10 times if I were a country ticker I would have finished every country 10 years ago I did not realize that I was a country ticker until I crossed 100 or 125. so now looking back I regret I build a Thailand 30 times I could have finished 30 countries instead or I’ve been to India 40 times after I came here.

I’m definitely not a country ticker but once I cross that 125 number and it came into my mind I have become a country ticker because I thought there is a lifetime so once I finish every country like for example I go and meet a random person I say hey I’ve been to 170 countries for example they’re like what really so I was just thinking the impression you make when you say I’ve been to every country and then travel to the regions because once your traveler always a traveler it’s not like I I hit my 195 and I stopped traveling so at 125 or 130 yes I became a country ticker partly true.

 

 Like in many things in life,  if you want to reach a big result then it becomes like a sport and here the numbers also matter so that’s like fair enough but in NomadMania, one of the reasons why we divided the world into regions and we have some other unique places to go is that we want to encourage people to go deeper. There is a clear logic behind it, so I know that behind the scenes you told me that you are going on some trip to a similar area that you’ve been to in South America and you want to visit a new place in Paraguay that you haven’t been before but it was the Paraguay and this keeps you unsettled before.

To be honest it’s big only because of nomad many are going to Paraguay I visited the ecoso falls and you know when you go to Iguazu you can go into Paraguay without a Visa that’s exactly what I did spent maybe half a day but now I’m gonna spend three days in Asunción meeting a friend going to a village in and spending time with family so I’m going to Belize to Asunción back to Iguazu and then back that’s my trip.

So  answer your question as to why I don’t delve deep into the territory, I told you I’m a family man. I have a wife and kid waiting for me, I have a job waiting for me so things are different for me like if you consider I I’m sure there’s no category in your NomadMania saying “full-time job and travelers” I’m sure you don’t have one maybe you should think of one.

 

Maybe we’ll create those lists because there are requests and people write us requests like all the different you know things you can even imagine because NomadMania is the website for geeks as you understood and people come up with really crazy ideas so for example recently we launched a so-called slow list which makes a ranking between the people depending on how long they stayed in each country nice basically the longer you stay the higher ranking you get and this is another way where people can in you know use their stronger parts because obviously you cannot be good in all types of travel and based on that I’m curious like what is your style of travel so what’s important to you what you usually do when you travel the country we understood that in between the jobs and life you travel as much as you can but what you do actually when you arrive to a destination

so for me uniqueness of a country is very important for example if there’s a waterfall right for example recently I was in Lesotho and people asked me to drive 80 kilometers to a waterfall I did but then my regret is rather than visiting a waterfall which you can see in every other country because let’s say you’ve seen Iguazu you’ve seen Victoria Falls no other waterfall would impress you as much you understand like let’s say there’s a beautiful waterfall near Odessa I would rather skip it so for me the priority is the culture and meeting local people is a priority the culture and visiting local people.

A mountain I can visit anywhere for me the first priority when I live in a country or when I visit a country for two or three days is to interact and delve in the culture of the country and find something very unique for example if you go to Rio what is the most unique thing in Rio Christ’s statue for example right the beach you can go to Copacabana Ipanema LeBlanc Baja anywhere those beaches you can find anywhere you know what I mean so I rather find the time going to a local market or finding something which is like a Samba dance something like this so this is my priority uniqueness and then meeting people these are my two priorities

 

I understand that you when you travel you know definitely travel is one of the biggest experiences we can have and this is our lifelong memory that nobody can take it from us that’s why some people tell that travel is probably one the only expense which is making you richer but you go beyond this you know you are sharing these experiences with the with basically with your Nate with your people in India yes so you’re one of the biggest travel influencers in India you have a YouTube channel and you have the Instagram and could you tell us a little bit more about your blogging 

You know I started my YouTube Channel less than three years ago. It’s only been two and a half years now and then I was mired in controversy. You know there are jealousy wars when you don’t live in India and you have a local Indian Channel. So what happened is somebody came up with an allegation which is primarily the reason I was looking for NomadMania saying that hey this guy has not traveled to all these countries you know and then you know people like to believe what they want to believe and there was a big controversy that’s why my Instagram my YouTube stalled all these subscribers I have were within two years and there is no growth in the last one year so once I’m out of all these controversies I will easily hit a million and you will see maybe cross a million YouTube subscribers very soon.

I do my YouTube videos in Telugu my language and Instagram essentially caters to the English audience and the name of my Instagram does not match my YouTube and that is the challenge if I had the same name as YouTube I would have crossed half a million here as well this is the challenge for YouTube but Instagram is in English and then I also have an English Channel, I barely have 15 videos and I have 67 00 subscribers

 

I understand this is an incredibly hard job. It’s a job in itself to do this so first of all I’m curious if you do it Telugu to Telugu is not one of the major Indian languages right? 

Telugu is the third largest language in India and probably you can count it as number two it’s more than Tamil and Urdu is less than one or two percent.  Hindi is the major language then comes Marathi Bengali and Telugu all these are huge languages so Telugu happens to be – population wise is 130 to 150 million that’s big is it also part of Indo-European group of languages so is it like kind of close to it’s that it’s it’s is it like interchangeable

 

With Hindi is it similar to Hindi or is it completely different?

Very different it’s it’s like Ukrainian and French.

 

Okay so which part of India is it popular? 

Telangana.

 

So basically your audience are native Telugu speakers?

Correct all over the world the problem is I don’t have English subtitles and you know the Indian languages one language to the other language is totally different that’s why my mission now is to cater some time and develop that English Channel. Imagine there are a lot of English channels like Drew Brinsky or Yes Theory.

In India we are blessed with numbers we have a huge population so it’s very easy, once people can find that connection and they find an authentic Indian origin traveler I can grow that English Channel as fast as a Telugu Channel as well I need to put some efforts I’m not finding time but I I promise I’ll make my English Channel as popular as the Telugu one as well. 

 

I think that the the fact that you’re doing a Telugu channel is also means a lot because you develop the logo language on the internet basically you produce content you make the language richer and you make the entire Telugu World online more valuable and probably many people are proud of you because you are basically like using their language with such sophistication and and so on so it’s a big contribution in my idea and also it works a lot for the local population who speak Telugu that you and you know you make a favour to people because you create content there but also you show the systems in the world that there is like a big Telugu usage online which actually can create additional services in their native language and thus you know meeting the needs of people so it’s pretty interesting 

The number of professionals in Information Technology in the US the highest number of you can go to any office you cannot work there without finding a person who speaks my language so my language is pretty big in the US as well not and UK as well all over the world not just the native areas in India because the Hyderabad is like has a namesake side. I don’t know why generally people, after Hindi they think that Tamil is the second biggest language in India. Even Bengali is pretty big because you also have Bangladesh combined it’s a huge language.

 

I will tell you like my projection, maybe because Chennai is one of the largest cities I believe there is a big TV production in in Tamil

The recent Oscar was also for Telugu language and Telugu makes more movies than Tamil more videos than Tamil bigger presence than Tamil and I I find it very fascinating that Tamil is bigger than Telugu by name I don’t know why

 

Maybe because in Sri Lanka they also use Tamil you know so it’s like it translates for two countries not one.

Anyway you are doing a lot to glorify the Telugu language and and to to deliver the truth out there

It’s always the roots that matter right it doesn’t matter how good my English is or where I live it’s my roots that matter and I’m very proud to be a native Telugu speaker and I really really really want to cater to my language alongside English

 

Doing the online job and seeing the amount of content you produce in multiple platforms is like a second full-time job like how do you handle this?

This is a very interesting question, believe me I do Consulting meaning 40 hours – I mean before I quit my job – 40 hours a week and travel like crazy every month to at least one place and almost make a video every day and post it. When I don’t travel I make videos with my family or talk about my travel experiences. When people and audience connect with you as a friend they become part of your online family they are interested in “what does this guy ea,  how does he spend his day,  what does he work what kind of clothes he wears so this becomes an essential part and many people ask me “you’re a traveler why are you posting home vlogs?” I say I’m a traveler and traveler is my primary profession. 

Let’s say I’m an Information Technology consultant but people are always interested as to how I reach the goal that doesn’t make you a different education goal right so it becomes part of the system and about one year ago I got stuck in all these controversies allegations and stuff that’s why it has slowed down but earlier on average three to four videos a week like you said I don’t know how I do it but maybe it’s the mind power that drives you you know for example yesterday I was sleeping for 20 hours I was not even in a mood to get off the bed but today I got off the bed because I have an interview scheduled with you so it’s always you pushing yourself what makes you push it is what matters that’s how I do it.

 

Are you considering pursuing the career in information technology or you would rather develop more as a traveler and and blogger?

I always found like for example let’s say I quit my job and I started making YouTube as a career that becomes a job. Nobody likes to do a job so that’s why I do multiple things when I have a primary job YouTube looks like a hobby but if I quit my job then this becomes a job and I’m I’m not really traveling I’m working so that’s why for me I’ll continue pursuing uh because of the challenge I quit my job and then I haven’t started looking for one because I’m so close to my end goal once I reach the end goal I will pursue something else because I’m somebody that gets bored very easily this is this is my drawback so if I only do YouTube day in and day they out, I cannot push myself so I need to multitask.

 

Okay so do you have a plan to visit every country because now you’re in the 1989 you’ve got three more to go to visit all the official United Nations?

Yeah I mean I want to finish it in the next one or two months I’m very confident I’ll be able to finish it by August or September the Libya Visa is taking a long time because of my passport it’s been three months. I spoke with the guy he said it can happen anytime the moment I get it done now in August and Venezuela in August as well so I’ll finish everything in the next two months.

 

So Americans cannot go to North Korea? 

Yes, because it’s a felony it’s a crime to visit North Korea, after 2017. People that went to North Korea before 2017 were lucky.

There is a way to go to North Korea, I have to make a special request to the United States government, they issue me another passport not an American passport some other kind of passport but that takes time so I don’t want to promise myself but I will try my best to make it happen but I don’t want to be held as not visiting every country because of North Korea that’s because of the situation.

Like many Indians can’t visit Pakistan so I’m interested for example I see Mr Prasad how he visited Pakistan, so I mean if a country restricts another country not to visit them or if there is a restriction maybe NomadMania should consider that it’s not because I don’t want to visit North Korea it’s because I cannot visit North Korea there is a difference. 

 

I mean there are some exceptions in NomadMania and we are absolutely open for for all constructive uh and useful ideas.

I would like to finish our conversation with our signature Nomad Mania question which is you had the chance to invite for dinner every three like any three people from history or from today, who would those people be?

Marco Polo, definitely because I’m a traveler and people travel with ease now when I was traveling 15 years ago it was not the same there was no Google Maps, there was no iPhone I had to go to MapQuest print out a map so travel has become very easier now so if 15 yearsback travel was hard even when I went to Boris Paul Airport for example in Kiev in those days I when I went there I didn’t have a iPhone or a Google map so it was marking what bus I take what minibus I take and so forth um I want to I’m really interested as to how a person like Marco Polo could travel that’s number one. 

Number two is Elon Musk I don’t know why but there are so many great people so those would be the two for example and the third one is Indian of course I want to meet the Indian Prime Minister I’m a big fan of him he has made India at least outwardly in the foreign world or across the world very popular and he probably has more supporters outside India than India so I want to meet him these are the three people.

People Who Visited Every CountrySee the Report