Retired American May Be World's Busiest Traveler

Checking off destinations has become a full-time hobby for Don Parrish
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 25, 2016 12:33 PM CST
Retired American May Be World's Busiest Traveler
Where you headed? Don Parrish has probably been there already.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

When a man in Illinois retired from Bell Labs just over 10 years ago, he decided it was time to see the world. Only Don Parrish really meant that—he wanted to "see everything," and he's since flown some 5 million miles, visited all 193 UN member states, and filled up 13 passports. But as he tells the Chicago Tribune while on the road in Chile, something compelled him to forge onward, past all the pretty, easy destinations. As a result, he is now by some measures the world's most prolific traveler. The website Most Traveled People breaks the world down into 875 places, and Parrish has visited 851 of them, giving him the site's No. 1 ranking. He ranks seventh at Best Traveled (975 of 1,281 places), and he's visited 459 of 1,052 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. (Several are added every year, making this a tough goal for the 72-year-old).

Parris has just about seen it all, but his most valuable lesson? Having been detained by Jamaican authorities, nearly dying on a road in Nepal, and suffering a bad fall rock climbing in Wisconsin, to name a few close calls, he says that in the end, "You realize that the world isn't such a scary place after all." Parrish is a lifelong bachelor, but even some families are serious travelers as well. Forbes reports on Lani Bevacqua and husband Paul Bennett, a couple that set sail about 20 years ago and essentially never went home, having three daughters along the way. They also built a successful travel company, and now divide their time living in Philadelphia, abroad, and at sea. It's not the planes and trains and waiting they say they love—it's "the bit of travel ... that permanently changes you." (A new flight will be one of the world's longest.)

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