NEW YORK – Many people feel a sense of wanderlust, especially when they’re young, but they usually visit a few countries and they’re done. James Asquith is the Official Guinness World Record holder for being the youngest person to visit all 196 sovereign nations in the world at 24 years and 192 days old when he arrived in the final country, Federated States of Micronesia, on July 8, 2013. Asquith, now 29, is the Founder and CEO of the fastest growing travel app, Holiday Swap, which is active in over 100 countries and winner of the Best New App Award. He spoke to The National Herald about traveling, Holiday Swap, and his Greek-Cypriot heritage.
TNH: You set a Guinness World Record at the age of 24, what was the most significant lesson you learned while traveling to every country in the world?
James Asquith: To respect and appreciate how we are so different yet similar, from cultures to religion. I was fairly naive when I started my journey around the world, but I not only learnt a lot about myself, but about the world around me that we live in. I feel like I’m learning and growing every day and my greatest life lesson was definitely from traveling.
TNH: What inspired you to found Holiday Swap and to give your miles away?
JA: I kept getting asked by many people how they could travel more. Hotel prices and home stays are continuing to go up in cost so we wanted 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 us all money for things like flights and tours.
We have grown to offer accommodation in 184 countries now and 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 just $1 a night.
Everything we try to do at Holiday Swap inspires travel, and thats where the Air Miles Giveaway came from too. We do a bunch of giveaways here, and live to see our communities feedback to the exciting opportunities to travel more of the world.
TNH: I understand you are half Greek/Cypriot, from where in Greece/Cyprus?
JA: Yes, I am indeed and very proud of it. My Grandmother was from Larnaca and my Uncle is from Athens.
TNH: Do you get to visit Greece and Cyprus often in your travels?
JA: I was actually in Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos just a few weeks ago, and I loved it. I wish I could go back more often, but I’ll be using Holiday Swap to go and visit Cyprus early next year!
TNH: Does your heritage inform your work, and if so, how?
Holiday Swap was founded by James Asquith. Photo: Courtesy of James Asquith
JA: I think my heritage has almost developed as I have grown older. I’m a mix of nationalities and I grew up in London which is very cosmopolitan, and so with that it makes me want to be as multi-culturally aware and understanding as possible. Everything I have learnt from my travels certainly is reflected in my work, and we have a broad team of races and nationalities at Holiday Swap. We want to open up travel to everyone, and educate ourselves and our community about the world, so with that, our heritage is key to our success certainly.
TNH: What’s your best advice for travelers today?
JA: Enjoy it and say yes as much as you can. Too many things we never get to do and discover are because we ran out of time, and that’s something we don’t have much of. Take the risk, buy the ticket and say yes. It might be scary at first but there’s so much to explore, not just about the world, but about yourself.
There are no registration fees for the Holiday Swap App which is available for download on both the Apple App Store and Google Play.
More information about Holiday Swap is available online: holidayswap.com.