A jet-setter took a year off from work, then touched down in every country to 'achieve something'

Around the world

At just 27 years old, Sal Lavallo achieved a goal that very few people ever undertake – travelling to every country in the world.

He accomplished this feat in November after landing in Malta, which was the 193rd country he has visited. It was something he didn't even consider possible until a year ago. Oddly enough, Lavallo hasn't yet visited every U.S. state — something he said is on his bucket list.

Lavallo grew up in a small town in Indiana, but explained to CNBC's "On the Money" that he was always "globally-minded," with a father born in Italy and a mother with roots in Germany.

As a teenager he attended boarding school with international students and then went on to NYU, where he studied economic development and began traveling abroad for research and work.

After college, Lavallo landed a job at McKinsey as a management consultant based in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, traveling 4 days out of the week for his job. Lavallo said he stayed loyal to Marriott hotels, racking up SPG Starpoints to use for his own personal travel.

Then two years ago, Lavallo took a break from work to travel full-time.

"I took off what I thought was going to be 6 months of work, that turned into a year and I had already been to about 160 countries by then," Lavallo told CNBC. "I said if I do one more year of not working I need to make it a goal - I need to achieve something."

However, since he didn't plan his travel strategically from the outset – his last countries were all over the globe.

"My final four countries were on 4 different continents so I had to go to from the Pacific in Tuvalu, then I had to go to Africa to Congo, then I went to the Middle East for Yemen and then to Malta for the finale."

Sal Lavallo, a professional world-traveler, in the United Arab Emirates.
SOURCE: Sal Lavallo

Lavallo said it was a mixture of using his points, and his connections that made his travel affordable.

"A lot of it was for work and for school so those companies enabled me to do that, and a lot of it was saving and being smart about the way you're spending," he said.

"I went to international boarding schools so I stayed with friends in something like 75 countries – I'm so grateful I'm able to have those contacts," Lavallo added.

The NYU grad told CNBC there are two countries that he considers his all-time favorite places.

"I've been living in the United Arab Emirates for the past 6 years and I love it. I think it's the best and most interesting place in the world – there's so much to learn while there," Lavallo said. "I also go every year to Tanzania – I own a small farm there so I love to go back."

So what's next for the jet setter?

"I think I'm going to start working in emerging market finance in either New York or London. I want to get an apartment, a girlfriend, maybe a dog – just settle down, be normal," he said.

On the Money airs on CNBC Saturdays at 5:30 am ET, or check listings for air times in local markets.

Related Tags