ABU DHABI: Just 27, an Abu Dhabi-based American expat has visited 193 out of the world’s 195 recognised countries.
Sal Lavallo, who moved to the UAE in 2012, said many of his trips were undertaken as part of his job as an investment analyst for a private company. “Initially, my job took me to different parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Then I covered Australia. By 2016, I had travelled to 115 countries,” said Lavallo, who quit his job two years ago and has since travelled to 79 more countries, taking his tally to 193.
Speaking to XPRESS from Tanzania where he owns a farm, Lavallo said he has taken over 650 flights and has six ‘fully stamped’ passport booklets.
“The first country I visited outside the USA was Japan in 2004 and the last was Malta in 2017,” said the man who had to apply to 75 countries for visas.
“Travelling from the UAE is convenient as it’s got direct flights to various countries,” said Lavallo who lists the UAE, Tanzania, Algeria, Brazil and the USA among his favourite countries.
The duration of his trips ranges from a few hours to a few months.
“Once I even covered three countries in 72 hours. I particularly like the UAE and Tanzania as I have had the best times of my life here.” Lavallo, who is of Italian-German origin, said he always wanted to travel the world, but didn’t think it would happen so early in life. “I am happy with my accomplishments. That said, it’s a bitter-sweet feeling as there isn’t much left to explore now.”
Lavallo said unlikely places like Burundi, Timor-Leste, Tajikistan and Syria impressed him the most with their picturesque beauty.
“It may come as a shock to many but Syria is nothing like we hear about or see on television. I’ve been in many sticky situations. But it’s the happy times I cherish.”
He said he has sampled many cuisines thanks to his travels. “In Palau, I ate a bat, in Uganda I tried crickets and in Cambodia I had a dish made of frogs.”
Lavallo believes travel is the best form of education. “I have a blog in which I share my experiences. There is so much to explore and learn when you visit a new place and meet new people.”
Sal's journey can be followed on @sallavallo on Instagram
Sal’s top five favourite countries in the world
1. The UAE
‘Weird’ things Sal has eaten
1. A whole bat in Palau, South East Asia
2. Goat head in Albania
3. Crickets in Uganda
4. Guinea pig in Ecuador
5. Frogs in Cambodia
Languages Sal can speak fluently
English, Swahili, German, Spanish and a little bit of Italian
Etihad Airways is Sal’s favourite airline