Insider Travel Tips & Hacks from One of the Youngest Americans Ever to Visit All 193 Countries

Seasoned traveler Sal Lavallo shares stories of cultural bridges built, and finding a common bond that unites us all

At age 27, Sal Lavallo will become one of the youngest people ever to span the globe and visit all 193 countries. Sal’s lifelong quest has not been about checking countries off a list, but about immersing himself in local cultures and customs, breaking barriers and connecting with people wherever he goes. At a time when many countries are looking inward and talking about erecting walls, Lavallo wants to build bridges, embrace cultural differences and find a common bond that unites us all.

Lavallo, who accomplished this feat through a mix of leveraging SPG Starpoints (he stayed at nearly 70 Marriott International properties), his credit card and friend’s couches, will share travel tips and hacks for those planning last-minute holiday travel, or for those who wish to travel more in the New Year.

A few simple hacks that he believes will make traveling more enjoyable, more comfortable, and more affordable include:

· Plan ahead: Plan ahead to save on expenses, get caught up on visa requirements, currency changes, etc. The more of a head start you can get on your travel planning, the more you’ll be likely to save time and money.
· Enroll in loyalty point programs: Every traveler at this point is enrolled in a few loyalty programs. Find one that best suits your needs, accumulate points strategically, and use the points to enhance your travel experience, whether it’s a flight upgrade or a comped meal.
· Be strategic with your loyalty points: Using loyalty points for hotels and airlines can be more advantageous than paying out of pocket.
· Be creative with flight times/routes: A long layover can save money and provide time to visit a destination.
Make concierges and all hotel staff your friends: In foreign countries, hotel staff – because they are locals – can help on everything, from customs and what to wear, to how to stay safe and cultural events to check out.

Lavallo’s journey to understand global cultures and customs stemmed from his upbringing and schooling. Hailing from a family of immigrants, Sal went to school with international students and founded a nonprofit that distributed micro-grants, sparking his quest for exploration and understanding. After college, he began working with a consulting company out of Abu Dhabi where he first started earning SPG Starpoints and traveling extensively, eventually earning Lifetime Gold status.

Sponsored by SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest)

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