responses from our favourite travel ninjas.
The youngest American to travel to every country in the world
@LeeAbbamonte | leeabbamonte.com
in: Connecticut, United States
living in: New York City, New York
1. Tourist must-see you think is actually a
Going up to the top of the Eiffel Tower in
Paris. The line can take forever, and though the views are good there are other
places in Paris – such as Montmartre – that offer much better views in a much
better area that you don’t have to queue for! Besides, if you’re on the Eiffel
Tower then it isn’t a part of the view!
2. Everyone asks what’s #1 on your list of
places you want to go before you die. But what’s your #3?
The British Indian Ocean Territory – the
Chagos Archipelago and Diego Garcia. It is one of the most remote and toughest
to access places in the world. Permits are granted from the UK, so if you have
any connections over there, please let me know!
most stranded, “oh-my-[deity]” travel moment:
I travelled overland from Turkmenistan
to Iran, two of the more difficult places to travel and get visas, especially
for Americans. When exiting Turkmenistan there is a 3km walk between the
borders to Iran. When I did it, there were no other people and I was all alone.
I was praying that my guide was at the remote Iranian border waiting for me and
that the guards didn’t feel like kidnapping or extorting me that day! It worked
out – but I was a little nervous.
(or worst) person/people you’ve had to sit next to while travelling:
The best person was Charles Barkley, who
is an NBA Hall of Famer and a
really funny, outspoken guy. I really enjoyed that flight from Phoenix to New
York. The worst was a flight in 1999. I sat next to this crazy, drunk guy who
kept yelling about everything, and when the flight attendants finally cut him
off he threatened to do all kinds of things including opening up the door to
the outside. Needless to say he tried, and myself and a few other big guys
tackled him and had to detain him for about two hours until we arrived in
Singapore from Tokyo.
someone was visiting your town, what’s the one thing you’d show them?
I would take them to see a New York
Yankees baseball game at Yankee Stadium
in the Bronx. It is probably my favourite place in the world.
invention you wish existed:
I wish both a time machine and a beam up
machine existed. I think I’d go back to either the Roaring Twenties in New York
or back to the Crusades in Europe and see what it was really like! Plus, how
great would it be to simply beam up from place to place like in Star Trek
instead of going through the hassle of actually travelling to places and
dealing with airlines and airports.
thing you miss the most when away from home:
My 64in HD flat screen TV because there
is nothing better than watching sports while just relaxing on the couch!
celebrity encounter while travelling:
I met Henry Rollins (of Black Flag and
Rollins Band and also a TV actor) in Mali at the Festival in the Desert, a music
festival outside Timbuktu. That was so random but especially cool because when
I was a kid I saw Rollins Band in concert a few times!
travel story you’ll never stop bragging about:
In order to complete the list of travelling
to every country in the world, I had to visit Libya during the war nearly two
years ago. The whole country was a no fly zone so I had to enter overland from
Egypt into the rebel-controlled area of Eastern Libya. I didn’t have a visa and
didn’t speak any Arabic so I had to sneak in via a minivan that was driven by
the brother of a guy I met in Egypt under the guise that I was doing
humanitarian dental work for the Libyan people. That was the idea of the
Libyans in the car because they said I had straight teeth! If that wasn’t a
good enough story, we were actually caught in the crossfire of a gunfight
between the rebels and some Egyptian smugglers. It was a pretty exciting day
and a heck of a way to enter a country!
on us a priceless bit of travel advice or wisdom:
Don’t plan too much. Have a basic idea
of what you want to do but allow time and money to do other things that pop up
along the way. The best part of travel is the unexpected. Plus, remember things
are often more expensive than you think so have access to additional funds.