The Youngest Person to Visit All 196 Countries Gave ALL His Miles Away! Here Are His Thoughts on Travel and Meet the Winner of His Giveaway
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James Asquith is a world record holder, travel monster, CEO, and best of all, a great dude. Originally from England, he started traveling at a young age, but started regularly traveling after a trip to Vietnam at 18 years old. In 2013, he accomplished the feat of becoming the youngest person to visit every single United Nations recognized country at just 24 years old!
Now that he has accomplished an incredible goal, he decided to start something for himself. He is the founder and CEO of Holiday Swap, a platform where fellow wanderlusters can swap accommodations for just $1! I plan to give this service a try during my next adventure.
Recently, James made viral news that he was giving away ALL of his frequent flyer miles! I was able to interview James to get the scoop on his travels, his airline miles giveaway, and Holiday Swap.
Where did you get your wanderlust from?
I started traveling properly when I was 18 years old. My parents took me on holiday once a year when I was younger but it wasn’t until I volunteered in Vietnam for 3 months that I really picked up the travel bug and I was hooked. I really got to see and feel how we as people are different but so similar. I fell in love with the world around me, and only now I feel like I’m still getting started in seeing the world.
Did you just accrue your miles from travel, or do you accrue miles in other ways such as travel credit cards?
Not much from travel actually – I was always very lazy putting in a Miles program on my travels.
Recently I’ve started accumulating them through American Express. I use the British Airways premium card to get 1.5 Avios per mile which adds up pretty fast when you put all your expenses through your AMEX.
Where did you get the idea to give away your miles?
I was actually on a 16-hour flight from Los Angeles to Sydney and they had Wi-Fi. I was thinking I don’t actually use the miles I accumulate, as I travel very last minute. By giving them away I could inspire people to think about travel and what they could do with some miles. The point wasn’t just for the one winner, it was to get people dreaming about the reality, and I’ve heard some great stories about people that have thought afterwards, “let’s buy the ticket and just go anyway” which is amazing.
Tell us more about Holiday Swap, where the idea came from and how can our readers take advantage of it?
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 accommodations 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 that’s where the Air Miles Giveaway we recently announced on my Instagram page 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. The air miles giveaway was very simple. And we have a bunch of other cool giveaways coming up from gorilla treks in Uganda to northern lights boat trips in Norway.
So Who’s The Winner?!
View this post on Instagram
🌎✈️🌍 Guys, just over 3 weeks left to enter my HUGE GIVEAWAY, if you haven’t already entered into one of the previous posts you still have time (if you’ve entered already, you don’t have to do so again)🕺🏻- I am giving away all of my Air Miles, every single one of them!💥🙈 There is enough to fly around the world more than 3 times if you use them wisely or treat yourself to a bunch of First Class flights 🥂✈️ After visiting all 196 countries, I wanted to try and inspire everyone that supported me in my journey along the way, that’s you guys! . If you have an inspiring story too I want to hear it, there are a few more surprises to come! . So many of you ask me for tips on Air Miles (and I’ll give them all to you in another post as I won’t have room here). We all want to travel more, so here is my present back to you guys for being so awesome! This isn’t sponsored, it’s my way of inspiring more travel! 😁 . Here’s all you have to do: 1) Be following me 🙈 (of course 😂) 2) Go and follow @holswap where you can use ‘FreeSwap’ to also stay for free, so there is such a thing as a free holiday maybe?!? 3) Comment below 👇🏼 as to how many air miles you think you will win and tag who you would take with you round the world (you can tag and comment up to 5 times, and each comment is another entry, where the closest number of miles guessed wins!) – to anyone that knows me – please don’t ask me, I won’t tell you!!! 😸 . 1 clue – I use Avios . Happy travels and good luck everyone! I’ll announce a winner on the 23rd September! 😃✈️ . . . #giveaway #free #freeflights #cheapflights #cheaptravel #competition #giveaways #giveawaycontest #contest #contests #freebies #holswap #holidayswap #travelblogger #adventure #explore #aroundtheworld #airmiles #miles #traveltips #travelphotography #traveling #instatravel #travelbug 🌎
With all these miles being given away, I had to find out who won. Her name is Deyanira Ortiz and I also had a chance to ask her about her winnings!
How did you end up following James and entering the contest?
It’s funny because I actually didn’t even follow him! My sister who is obsessed with travel was following him and tagged me on the post. I almost didn’t comment because I was like “What are the odds?” and I am KNOWN for bad luck so I genuinely did not believe I had any chance at winning these miles. I left the post and then got bored and decided to take a guess.
Have you ever used miles to travel before? And what do you plan on doing with your winnings or what have you done with the winnings?
I have never used miles before. Honestly, I’m still in shock at the fact that I won THAT many miles!
At first I really wanted to take my cousins somewhere however, everyone has reminded me how hard I have worked to allow myself to travel and the people that have taught me and raised me to be so hardworking are my parents. My parents are both Mexican immigrants; my mom gave up her teaching career in Mexico to start a new life in the States hoping that her children would have a better future. I’ve always dreamed of giving back to them and I think this is the best way that I can do so. Every time I visit a new country I think about my parents and how much I wish I could show them everything that I see. I almost always walk past something and say “OMG I know my dad would love this.”
I haven’t told them because I want to surprise them but I plan to travel to a few different countries with them this summer. I also want to travel to countries with less resources and help at non-profits. I have not worked out all the details but I have been looking into non-profits that help children or abused women. I’ve always loved helping and I really want to make an impact on the world, even if it’s a small one. As much as I want to bring everyone with me, I do plan on focusing on using the miles on my immediate family.
They really are the people that inspire me everyday and I think my younger cousins will learn a lot from this and will feel inspired to work for what they want. This really is my opportunity to make a difference and I can’t wait to get started!
What has winning these miles meant to you as an individual and as a traveler?
Winning the miles really meant that I had the opportunity to give back. Obviously, as a college student it can be difficult watching people struggle or receiving help from others and not being able to give back in a monetary form. Although the miles don’t mean that I will be traveling for free, it will definitely make it more affordable to purchase flights to places I could never afford without the miles.
I’m excited for my parents really. They’ve never been outside of Mexico or the US and I can’t believe I’ll be able to take them somewhere at such a young age!
The power of frequent flyer miles and travel is incredible. James is an great guy, with a hilarious Instagram channel.
Seriously, his most recent rant about Iberia Airlines had me in tears. And to hear that Deyanira is now able to give back to her family through these miles makes this story even more special to me.
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