He’s ‘officially amazing’ and it all started when he booked his first backpacker adventure with STA Travel to South East Asia 8 years ago, from there he caught the travel bug and was inspired to visit all 196 countries! His name is James Asquith and he is officially the youngest person to travel to all sovereign countries. At 24 years and 192 days old he arrived at his final country the Federated States of Micronesia, on 8 July 2013.
Let’s find out more about James Asquith’s incredible story…
Where was your first trip? Is that what gave you the travel bug?
My first backpacking trip was with some of my best friends on the ever popular circuit of South-East Asia. I actually had no intention to travel much beyond this trip, and it was all a bit of a whirlwind to begin with. We actually booked our journey through STA travel to Bangkok, and at the time I could not have imagined much how I would catch the travel bug. As soon as I returned home from this trip I booked my first solo adventure and I was desperate to experience new cultures and places.
What is your favourite country and why?
This is always a tough one, and a point I really try to get to grips with in my book I have just written, Breaking Borders; Travels in Pursuit of and Impossible Record. There is no obvious answer for me, as there are aspects I love about many countries, but as a single nation, the USA is always going to be close to the top of my list purely because of its diversity. From the culture and beauty of Hawaii to the Deep South, incredible national parks in Alaska and Yellowstone, and amazing cities such as Las Vegas and New York, this country has it all. I think the country that surprised me the most and I fell in love with unsuspectingly though was Iran.
Where did you eat the best food?
Italy, without a doubt. I love the food here. Something that worked strangely well in the Emilia-Romagna region was actually balsamic vinegar on seemingly everything, even the gelato!
Where would you go back to in a heartbeat?
Brazil. What an amazing country this is. I am desperate to explore much more of this country. I have experienced the carnival spirit of Brazil on several occasions and I love the super friendly people here, who exude passion!
Where was the weirdest place you visited?
Tuvalu, but in a great way! This tiny Pacific island nation has a landing strip that takes up a large chunk of the country, so on the majority of days when there are no flights, the locals use the runway to play football, volleyball, and race motorbikes. When evening temperatures remain high, many families also drag their mattresses out onto the airfield to sleep in the open where there is a cool breeze. Very bizarre but an unbelievable country.
What can you not travel without?
Something to read. Travelling is amazing, but particularly when you’re covering large distances, there can be a lot of waiting at times. I went on bus journeys that lasted days in parts of South America, so it was always good to have a good book, or even guidebook to have a read through.
What would you say to somebody who is thinking of going travelling?
Take the plunge. I was sceptical at first, and just kind of went along with it, but it was the best thing I ever did. You educate yourself in ways you can’t imagine, and you have a new found respect and knowledge for other people, cultures, religions and traditions. You will meet amazing people, and even people that you may not get on with, but play a role in shaping who you wish to become. Travelling doesn’t have to be about ‘finding yourself’, but it certainly taught me an incredible amount about myself and the world.
Where are you going on your next adventure?
I have actually just booked to go to Puerto Rico. I have never been before, and there are still so many places I want to explore in the world. Although I spent months in some countries I am only just scratching the surface. I cannot wait to explore more, which is why I’m so excited about going to a new place.
What do you love most about travel?
Meeting new people and the journey, often both at the same time. I love the anticipation of travelling to a new destination and meeting people along the way that you can bounce ideas off and explore with together. People were the part of my adventure that made it what it was. Although I had some great adventures travelling solo, it was my experiences that I was able to share with others that I value the most.