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Meet Sal Lavallo: Who Travelled to Every Country in The World by 27

Updated: Nov 12, 2019

Maryam and Nivaal Rehman | Toronto, Canada

Photo By: @SalLavallo (Instagram)

There are many people who dream of travelling the world. With the rise of social media, and people sharing their journeys, this desire and dream has greatly increased. We interviewed Sal Lavallo, one of the few people who can actually say that they have "travelled the world," because at 27-years-old, Sal finished travelling to all 193 countries. This is an incredible achievement, especially because in his journey, he spent time in all these countries and developed a meaningful understanding of the many cultures in our world. In our interview with him, we discussed more about his journey, the lessons he learned, and his goals for the future. In this blog, we share some big lessons from the interview. You can listen to the whole conversation on our podcast by clicking this link:


Lesson 1: Dream Big

Sal's desire to travel began when from when he was young, and he carried that into his adulthood.

"When I was younger,  I would travel often with my family. We did lots of big road trips around America," he told us. His background also played a role in this.

"My mother’s German and my father’s Italian, so the stories that I heard growing up were always about places far away, but they made those far away places feel close, because they were about my family and my history. From a young age, I always felt like the world was really accessible, and that kind of has come into fruition more as an adult, as I was able to do my own travelling as well."

To be able to achieve things that people often think are impossible, one has to dream big. Travelling to every country in the world is one of those things, and Sal believes that it is important to dream big because "we live in a world that is full of opportunities, and though some people are given easier paths to success than others, really, anything is possible. There’s always going to be mountains that need to be climbed, and everybody has that, but if you push through them, then you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve." 

Lesson 2: Travel makes the world more connected

Photos By: @SalLavallo (Instagram)

Everyone grows up in a unique environment that impacts the way they see the world, and the way they see people of different cultures. Media, family and education are all some examples of things in people's lives that help them develop opinions, and believe in certain "myths" about other people. These myths often make them feel disconnected from people of other parts of the world, because of all their differences.

Sal shares how travel helps you connect with people you might have never thought of. He thought that he "wouldn't be able to connect with anybody" in North Korea, but he had "a few really nice interactions" which allowed him to "see the humanity there." Through his travels on the road, he shares how people sitting next to you may "seem completely different from you, and then you realize, just how much you share just by being in the exact same place at the same time." 

He was also able to see how interconnected the world is.

"You can go in like small villages in South America, and they still are talking about Cristiano Ronaldo, and listening to a lot of the same music. The amount of foreignness in our world has really diminished."

Because of all the similarities that exist between people, and how interconnected we all are, travel also gives people the opportunity to solve global issues related to how we identify ourselves. We define ourselves with things like, race, class, and religion. And "you can comprehend them just by them reading about it, but to really understand it, you have to approach those differences. And so, the benefit of travel is really understanding humanity in all of its shapes and colours."

Finally, the cultural understanding that one gains from travel is important in today's global society.

"One of my favourite quotations I always talk about, is [that] Lester B. Pearson once said, 'How can there be peace if we don’t understand each other, and how can we understand if we don’t know one another.'

Travel opens up opportunities because "at the end of the day, there’s so few jobs, there’s so few opportunities that you can have if you’re limited in your cultural understandings."

Lesson 3: It's important to balance your social media use

Many people share their journeys travelling around the world on social media, but it's important to balance the amount of time we spend using it.

"I think it’s really fun to walk around a city, or wherever, with a camera, and try to find beautiful things, and it’s fun to be trying to make a video and think of what stories can be told. But I also think it’s fun to walk around without a camera at all, and be as present as you can. My friends are always shocked because I’m almost never on my phone. And you would think that, because of social media and stuff, I would have to be, but I prefer not to touch it. But at the same time, I do try and tell the stories, and I do try and document a little bit. I think you just need a good balance."

Social media addiction is something that many people can be impacted by. To prevent becoming "obsessed" with social media, Sal only shares his travel, not his personal life, and whatever he posts is "usually old" so that he's "able to look back through the album and find something better." It also protects him from what he thinks the "biggest danger is, which is that people view themselves through their social media."

"In curating your own life for the consumption by others, if you start to believe that who you truly are is what you’re presenting and not what you’re being 24 hours a day, then that gets really scary. I see that with a lot of people. Also the definition of who they should be, and what they should share, is largely dictated by the others that they’re viewing there."

However, Sal also shares that "it can be very amazing because I love connecting with my followers and I love when they go to places and they say it’s because they saw me posting from there. Or I love when I post something positive and someone says that they really needed to hear that message that day."

Social media can be really beneficial in planning one's travel experiences as well.