This is the third in a series of interviews we are carrying out with those of our clients who have visited all 193 UN member countries. Here we speak with Harold Smith of Virginia, who we helped to visit Iraq, Central African Republic and Libya.
What is the first country you travelled to and which was the last to finish off the 193?
Canada was the first country I travelled to and Yemen was the last.
Which country would you say has been your favourite to travel to and why?
I like the Orient best as a region. Thailand is my favourite country in the region. Really like Thailand for many reasons. Some of the reasons are the temples, the natural beauty and most because they have a totally different philosophy of life than the western countries.
Are there any countries you have visited that you have not enjoyed at all and would never go back to? If so, why?
No! I have found something of interest in every country.
Which country has changed the most since the first time you visited?
I was in Vietnam in 1968 during the conflict. The people lived a life focused on farming and fishing. When I returned much later the North and South were one, and the country was entering an industrial age.
Has travelling to every country in the world long been a conscious decision or did it just gradually occur as you travelled more and more?
It just gradually occurred as I travelled from a love of travelling, seeing new places and meeting new people. It gradually occurred as I visited more and more countries. There came a time when I did set a goal of visiting all the world countries before I was 80. I did it!!
What have been the biggest positive and negative changes you have seen in travel since you first started travelling?
A negative has been some places have such a large number of visitors it is hard to see and enjoy some of the major sights. A positive has been that it is easier to get to many places that were very difficult to visit in the past.
Many people feel that the more countries you visit, the more of an addiction it becomes, with the need to visit every one. Did you feel this at all? And how did you feel when you visited your last country? Was it a sense of accomplishment or relief that you’d finally done it?
I did not see it as being like an addiction. I think it is important to have goals in life and I saw it more as a goal. I saw it as an accomplishment when I visited the last country.
What’s your aim now for your future travelling? Are you looking to go back and visit places you have travelled to previously but want to explore further or are you moving onto the TCC list and visiting territories you haven’t been to before?
My future travel plans are to revisit place where I wish to see in more detail. Also places where my wife and I can relax and spend time together.
What advice would you give to young people who have just started to travel or have hopes to start to travel in the future, to make the most of their experiences?
My advice is not be afraid to visit anywhere. The locals will welcome you and give advice on what to do and not do. Get to know the people and appreciate them in their native environment. There are agencies such as Lupine Travel that can get you safely to many lesser visited countries.