Cherry Hill East student Asher Boiskin has become the first American to travel to 35 countries in 24 hours, beating the previous Guinness World Record of 13 – all within a $200 budget and without ever setting foot outside the U.S.
How is that possible?
Five months ago, the 16-year-old learned of the record for most countries traveled in a day. When he initially proposed the idea of breaking, his parents shot it down because of air travel’s high cost.
Boiskin then searched for loopholes, and in the process, learned that according to international law and the U.S. state department, embassies belong to the countries they represent, not their host countries. Embassies on American soil are considered parts of their countries and not part of the U.S.
“I decided if I contact those embassies, maybe I could beat that record of 13 (countries traveled in 24 hours) by booking appointments with them and entering, and that’s exactly what I did last week,” Boiskin said.
Over the next three months, Boiskin reached out to many embassies through email and phone calls and ultimately landed appointments with 49 of them, which would be two more than the record for most embassies visited in 24 hours achieved last year in Brussels by Tijs Maes.
Boiskin found himself going through a formal process of trying to connect with the ambassadors and using diplomacy just to get meetings with them.
“Embassies are for getting visas or applying to be a citizen of other countries, not for beating records, so they were a little confused about that,” he recalled.
On June 15, Boiskin set out for Washington, D.C., in a rental car with four witnesses, a videographer and proper documentation to meet with ambassadors and high-ranking officials at embassy enclaves there. The trip took 10 hours, with Boiskin making 35 of 49 scheduled appointments.
He had anticipated spending only five to 10 minutes at each embassy to maximize appointments, but the short visits turned into longer stays, sometimes as much as 40 minutes.
“I learned all about diplomacy from the people I met,” Boiskin recalled. “For example, the ambassador of Ecuador told me her incredible story of how she became the ambassador … and it’s really a story of representing her country and [its] values. And that was consistent across all the embassies I went to.”
While he did not beat the record for most embassies visited in a day – and will not overtake Maes’ record, Boiskin has applied to be a contender for most embassies visited by an American citizen in 24 hours. Guinness has accepted his 35 embassy visits as under consideration for a new record for most countries visited in a day and will process evidence of that over the next six to 12 weeks.
“The experience proved incredibly educational, and the hospitality of the embassies I visited provided me with a chance to learn about diplomacy, what it means to serve one’s country, and the importance of foreign affairs,” Boiskin said.
This article has been updated on June 23 to clarify that the record is under consideration by Guinness.