” Travel should make you happy. You should travel how you want. You shouldn’t let others tell you how to do that, the way that you should feel fulfilled. What I’ve learned along the way is the number of the country doesn’t matter, it’s about meeting new people, listening to them, realizing their experience as a true human experience, and letting it change you “(Sal Lavallo)
Visiting as many countries as possible is kind of a dream for many travelers, but not many have the privilege to finish their journey to all countries in the world. One of the people who actually can visit all 193 UN-recognized countries is Sal Lavallo. Sal did that in 2017, when he was 27 years old, making him the youngest American to have visited every country on earth, at that time. I am lucky to be able to meet Sal in person in Bali, Indonesia. Amidst his year-end vacation in Bali, Sal chose to meet me, who reached him by Instagram, in a coffee shop in Petitenget, Bali.
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Sal is widely known as one of the youngest people to have visited every country in the world. He made a lot of headlines when he reached his final country, Malta, and became a global phenomenon because he did it at a relatively young age. Sal also catches a lot of public attention when he opened up about his conversion to Islam. I’ve been following him since then as I am curious with his next journey as he doesn’t stop traveling.
Sal’s desire to travel began when he was young when he traveled often with his family, and he carried that into his adulthood. His study and job (as a consultant at McKinsey) then took him to many countries. In 2016, he quit his job to travel for a year and finish visiting 193 countries. For him, travel is a way to connect with people around the world, to really understand humanity in all of its shapes and colors, and to learn about economic development & identity. When I found out he was visiting Jakarta, I was pretty surprised that Sal seems to enjoy his visit to the capital of Indonesia. He seems to have a different opinion about the city I consider home than many foreigners who come and live in Jakarta.
Welcome to Indonesia! How’s your trip so far?
It’s been great! I’ll be spending 2 weeks in total in Indonesia. I just spent a few days in Jakarta, and a few days in Bali to celebrate the new year, then I and my friends will hike to Mount Rinjani in Lombok.
What do you think about Jakarta?
I like it. Jakarta is actually the world’s 2nd largest metropolis after Tokyo. We visited a huge mosque, masjid Istiklal in the heart of Jakarta. But what I like the most about my visit to Jakarta is Taman Mini. The park showcases every culture from various ethnicities in Indonesia such as traditional houses and costumes. My favorite is the Gadang house, a traditional house from West Sumatra.
You’ve been to Bali several times. What’s your favorite part of Bali?
So far I like Nusa Dua, but now we’re staying in Seminyak to celebrate New Year. I went to Ubud too, we did rafting, we also took a surfing lesson this morning.
How do you choose activities in a destination? Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?
I like both. I usually let my friend decide because I’ve done everything. I am not leading adventurous trips anymore. Like the hike in Lombok, my friend decides to do it, and I just come along with him. But we will not go to the top of the mountain, it would be a one-day hike.
I remember in one of the interviews you said Southeast Asia is your least favorite destination to travel to because there are a lot of scams happening here. What makes you decide to spend the end of the year here?
It’s still very interesting to visit. I also like to see & understand the economic development and identity of every country I visit. In Bali unfortunately the people don’t benefit much from the growing economy, it mostly benefits foreigners. The foreigners in Southeast Asia are not very into the culture, they come to Bali to see the temple and dance because it’s part of the culture that people are willing to pay.
What’s your next travel plan?
I plan to retire by 40 years old and use my free time to travel, and I’ll continue my youtube channel.
On this occasion, I also introduce Indonesian coffee to Sal since he loves coffee and drinks it every day. Indonesia is the world’s 4th largest coffee producer and while he’s here, he should taste it, right?
I usually drink 20 coffee a day, but on the weekend I feel a lack of coffee. Thanks for the coffee…
Curious about my adventures in Europe and America ?. You can click the following links to see my traveling videos that have aired on Net TV :
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- The Bean, Seni Kontemporer yang Ada di Film – film Hollywood
- Traveling ke Paris, Prancis. Itinerary 5 Hari di Paris
- Jalan-Jalan ke Colmar, Prancis, Kota Negeri Dongeng
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