BEIRUT: Londoner James Asquith fulfilled his dream and that of all world-travelers after he claimed the title at 24-years-old as the Guinness World Record Book holder for being the youngest person to visit all 196 sovereign nations in the world.
Fast forward, now holding a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the London School of Economics and working in the banking industry, Asquith is also Founder and CEO of the innovative travel app, Holiday Swap.
Asquith told Annahar that he started traveling on his own at the age of 18 once a year with his parents at first, but it wasn’t until he soon volunteered in Vietnam for three months that he really picked up the travel bug and was truly hooked.
Seeing the marvels of the countries and their people made him fall in love more and more with the world around him, but funding such a global tour all on his own was never a piece of cake.
Asquith said that he started working three different jobs and tried to save up all the money he could, and he was lucky early on to also start investing in Holiday Swap and continued to juggle multiple jobs to pay for his travels in between. He would also work and volunteer during his travel, to cover the cost of food and accommodation.
According to the Asquith, the USA, Iran, and Italy stand respectively in his top three countries of the world.
“The USA stands out because of the huge diversity there,” Asquith said, adding, “The variation in the USA from Hawaii to Alaska and then California to New York and the Southern culture mixed with the incredible national parks, like Yellowstone and Yosemite, means the USA would be my favorite.”
He distinguishes Italy for its mouthwatering food and Iran for its genuine people.
Back to Holiday Swap, Asquith noted that he was often asked by people on how to travel more, as hotel and homestays prices continue to rise. And that is basically the reason behind the application. Holiday Swap aims to make a way for people to use the bed they sleep in to travel more and take away most of the expensive cost of accommodation.
“At Holiday Swap we wanted to build a sharing platform that saves user money. It’s really inspiring to us, hearing how we are making travel more affordable and accessible for people all around the world, who are able to swap their accommodation for anything from a room to a villa for from $1 to $14 a night,” the founder said.
He added for Annahar that “Everything we try to do at Holiday Swap is intended to inspire travel, and that’s where the Air Miles Giveaway we recently announced on my Instagram page, Jamesasquithtravel, came from too," noting that the service announced its giveaways through the Holiday Swap App and on the @holswapInstagram page.
When asked about an underrated site-seeing destination, Asquith named Tuvalu, an independent island nation within the British Commonwealth located in the South Pacific.
“Tuvalu is a tiny Atoll island in the South Pacific where the landing strip of the runway takes up most of the land. With very few flights, the local residents use the runway for anything from motorbike races, to sports matches and even to sleep under the stars at night, because it’s too hot inside their homes. It’s really fascinating to see,” Asquith said.
Asquith highlighted that he would visit most of the world's countries again and again if he had the chance, as traveling was the best education he has ever had. He added that as he traveled, the more he respected and appreciated how we, as people, are so different yet similar, from cultures to religions.
“I learned so much about myself when I traveled. I grew as a person as I understood myself and the world more. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t appreciate the gift of travel at all ages, but we never know how long we have in the world, so take the chance when you can. Why wait and risk not doing what you may have always wanted to do and see,” Asquith told Annahar.
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