Meet The Stamp Collectors: Finding Lala

Meet The Stamp Collectors is a series of interviews with travelers who've reached the milestone of visiting 50 countries, hence they've collected 50 passport stamps. This elite group of adventurers share real-life insights about their love of exploring our precious planet. They are voyagers who seek out unique experiences and develop their own perspective through immersive travel experiences. I hope their stories and sage advice will inspire you to push your boundaries and continue to travel near and far. This is not a contest about who's been to the most countries but a reflection on what it's been like to visit at least a quarter of the world's nations.

Lala has visited an astonishing 81 countries across all 7 continents. Yup, including Antarctica. She shares her unique travel stories on Finding Lala.  She manages to see the world while balancing a full-time career in her homeland of Australia and loves to visit lesser known and visited places of the world.  This determination to travel despite the challenges of having a location-based job isn't surprising. She's been traveling since she was 10 years old and went with her family to visit the States. She even spent a year and a half during her University years studying in Canada. Her travels generally take her overseas as the cost of travel within her own country is so high but she is determined to get out and explore more of Australia soon.

Which country cemented your love for travel? 

Canada. As a child, it was the country I wanted to visit the most. It was probably around the 5th country I went to and I have since visited numerous times and even lived there! It is a country of such stunning landscapes and wonderful people. I really enjoy nature and Canada sure does have some lovely areas for hiking.

What is your favorite travel quote?

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer

Which was your favorite country for food?

I am a huge fan of seafood and it would be hard to find somewhere with better seafood than Australia, which is also home for me. If I was to pick another country where I enjoyed the food it would have to be India. I love a good curry!

Which was your favorite country for architecture?

I visited Cuba a few years ago just as tourism in the country was starting to pick up. The architecture in Old Havana is unlike anywhere else I have visited. I loved the feeling of decay in the buildings–it certainly was like stepping back in time but was also easy to imagine how grand they would have been in their day.

Which was your favorite country for nature?

It would have to be a three-way tie between Canada, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Canada is so large that there is just so much to explore and it is so varied. The areas surrounding Banff are so beautiful. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are currently so remote and unexplored. They are beautifully green and mountainous with very few people around. The roads around can be a little scary but the hiking is unbelievable! 

What is your all-time favorite country? 

It is hard to choose one country as I have seen and experienced so many wonderful places. Albania is a country that I visited last year which I loved. It is hard to believe that a country with so much to offer and part of Europe receives such little tourists. The capital city, Tirana, was so interesting and quirky. Further south there are beaches that rival those of Italy and France. The people were extremely friendly and helpful and overall the country was very inexpensive to visit. 

Which country disappointed you, and why? 

Sadly Morocco was a country that left me wanting more. Having seen it rise in popularity I had high hopes of loving Morocco. My visit was short–only around a week–but I was more than happy to leave. I wouldn’t say that I would never return, but it will certainly be a while before I visit again. 

What is your top travel tip?

Travel hacking! I spend a considerable amount of time ‘collecting’ credit cards. The way this works is I sign up for credit cards that offer a high sign up point bonuses. Once I receive the points I cancel the credit card. This has saved me tens of thousands of dollars and allowed me to travel around the world in business and first class only for the price of taxes. 

What country are you eager to get back to? 

I would love to go back to spend some time hiking in Kyrgyzstan. Antarctica is also an area that I loved immensely and would go back in a heartbeat if it weren’t so expensive. 

Which country would you not go back to? 

There are certain countries I have visited that didn’t wow me, but there is no country that I would rule out ever returning to. One bad experience in one area does not mean the country as a whole isn’t worth visiting. I don’t think back fondly on my experience in Bali, Indonesia but even Bali has so much more to offer than the touristy area of Kuta. 

What is the most prolific lesson you've learned through travel?

Traveling the world has opened my eyes to different cultures. It has taught me to be kind, humble, and respectful. There are so many people in the world less fortunate and it makes me grateful for how fortunate I am to have the opportunities I have had and continue to do so.

What keeps you motivated to continue traveling? 

I am on a quest to visit all 193 countries of the world. But more than this, I love learning and exploring other countries and cultures. It is nice to see how other people live in different parts of the world and is interesting to see that those with the least material items are generally the most friendly, happy, and welcoming people. I travel as much as my job and finances allow and it is a great escape.

What countries are on your bucket list?

Everywhere is on my bucket list. My next big bucket list trip is an adventure to West Africa. I love exploring countries that aren’t generally on most must-visit lists. I recently visited Central Asia where there is very little tourism. For me, these are the most interesting places to travel to really see the places and culture before they are affected by mass tourism.

Where are you headed next? 

Next up is a visit to Samoa. Samoa is a beautiful country and not too far from home. It is a country that is beginning to see more and more tourism so I am keen to visit before it becomes too touristy. I am also very keen to visit Timor-Leste and hoping to visit this year. This country sees very little tourists but looks stunningly beautiful. 

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