That feeling - like a punch to your gut. You know it. When you think
you’re something, a big fish in a small pond - you can rest on your
laurels - and then you stumble on something that sucks out the air in
For those who think they’re well-traveled, the balloon is about to deflate.
The prick: an interesting website dedicated to the world‘s most
traveled people: www.MostTraveledPeople.com.
It is run by Charles A Veley, who currently holds the title as the
“World’s Most Traveled Man.”
According to its members the world is made up of 872 countries,
territories, autonomous regions, enclaves, geographically separated
island groups, and major states and provinces.
Veley has visited 822, and has only 50 remaining places to visit.
Next on the list is a Bill Altaffer, who has visited 815 places, and
has a purported 57 remaining places to visit.
And so on.
Compared to my previously laudable 30 countries...
The previous holder of the Guiness Book of World Records’ “Most
Traveled Man” was John Clouse - who had 7 wives and visited 315 of the
world’s 316 countries, regions, and islands. (I know you’re wondering
- it was Bouvet Island near South Africa.)
Or is the most “traveled” man Fred Finn? Mr. Finn does not boast the
highest number of places visited but has logged 15 million miles on
airplanes. He’s crossed the Atlantic over 2,000 times and been to
Africa on 600 visits. He’s flown the Concorde three times in a day.
In my lifetime - assuming I have flown 500,000 miles - I have
accumulated at maximum, .03 percent of Mr. Finn's.
What does all this say about travel - when taken to the extreme?
For anyone else who’s suddenly feeling less accomplished, consider
this: Veley was a self-made millionaire in his thirties and retired at
35. Finn’s travel has been paid by the companies he’s worked for. Most
travelers make less and see the world on their own dime.
According to Pico Iyer, travel writer, and author of the
quintessential essay “Why We Travel” - we travel to lose ourselves and
find ourselves, to open our hearts and minds, and to become young
fools again. He reminds us that the most significant travel we do is
“Most traveled” - checking off destinations - going to a place to say
you've been there - does not equal meaningful travel. Unless you
strike up fascinating conversations each time, or there’s a stirring
documentary playing, sitting on an airplane doesn’t teach you much.
So the punch to the gut - only lasting a second - is gone. The air is back.
(If you haven’t read Pico Iyer’s stunning article - my favorite - you
can read it here:
Veley’s site makes an interesting claim: To visit all 872 places would
be “to go everywhere.” You can sign up on his site and check off the
places as you go.
Veley has an interesting life story, which you can read here: