At 27-years-old, Sal Lavallo has already accomplished some of the travel goals that even seasoned explorers only dream of.
In November, he became one of the youngest people in the world to have traveled to every country, including destinations like Syria and North Korea. He is a self-described life-long traveler, and when he moved to Abu Dhabi for work, he quickly started traveling to a number of countries across the Middle East and Africa.
He soon decided to actively pursue the goal of visiting every country in the world. Using a mixture of his global network of friends and hotel rewards program points, he was able to find places to stay and finance his travel over the course of only a couple of years. The strategies he acquired in that time can be used for all types of travel, whether you’re headed away for a cozy three-day weekend or hope to travel the world like Sal.
1. Try an unexpected place.
Paris or Rome are always great, but Lavallo said some of his best memories traveling came from unexpected places.
“What was cool about having the goal, is that it pushes you to go places you might not have otherwise thought about,” he told Travel + Leisure. “Sometimes the places you don’t think about are the ones that are the most exciting.”
One such place was Algeria, where Lavallo describes the welcoming attitude from locals, where Algerians were always excited to show him around their local cities.
2. Stick to one loyalty program.
Lavallo is a member of Starwood Preferred Guest, and he recommended choosing one loyalty program in order to make the most of it. When planning where he would go next, he consulted a map of where Starwood had properties, and it helped him make the most of the money that he spent on travel and lodging.
3. Redefine your idea of travel.
Travel can be a state of mind or a mentality of active curiosity, Lavallo says. Just by getting more interested in your local city or cities nearby, you can discover places you might never have known about. Lavallo has been based in New York City for much of his life but had never visited the markets in Queens, or the Oculus in downtown Manhattan. He insists there are always new things to explore if you make the effort.
4. Be strategic with your time off.
People often save up for one big trip, or put off traveling now because they want to set aside a large chunk of time in the future, but Lavallo urged people to make the most out of the time and location they’re in now. Even if you only have a long weekend, there are plenty of places within driving or short flying distance in the U.S. that make for great getaways.
“People view travel as having to go really far, or having to go really fancy, or having to go really long, but you can do a short budget, close-by trip,” he said. “Be flexible.”