So you thought you were well travelled?
Skyscanner speaks to Fred Finn, officially the world’s most travelled man about his five decades of roaming, which have taken him to a whopping 136 different countries. During that time, he’s seen bomb threats and hijackers, met Russian presidents, flown with Paul McCartney, Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, and visited some of the most obscure places on planet earth.
We get his travel tips, his recommended places to see before you die, and where he thinks the most beautiful women on earth are located.
Are you really the world’s most travelled man? How did you get the title and when?
Yes I am the world’s most travelled man. I got the recognition by the Guinness Book of Records and then the Guinness World Records way back in 1983. Guinness heard about me in the press, I then met with them and they verified that I was the most travelled person in the world.
Why do you do so much travelling – business or pleasure?
I worked for multinational companies setting up licenses for companies and governments to manufacture and sell products without the need to import and use up their foreign exchange. This has meant constant travelling around the globe to meet the people involved.
You’ve been to a lot of places; can you name three that you would recommend everyone should visit before they die?
Kenya – it has everything; 15000ft mountains on the equator with snow all year round; lakes like Lake Victoria which has brilliant fishing. Real wildlife, especially in the Masai Mara which joins the Serengeti and has the annual migration of animals which is on such a massive scale that it can be seen from space!
Kenya also has the sea and probably one of the most perfect climates possible. Where else could you be on the equator and go and dine at the famous Mt Kenya Safari Club founded by William Holden, dress in suit and tie for dinner, then return to a big open fire for after dinner drinks, gazing at a sky so bright you can drive by starlight?
The Seychelles has to be on my list for the best beaches on earth; there’s so many of them that they are never crowded and the diving and snorkelling is magnificent. The food is also delicious and you can even try fruit bat curry!
**I love Ukraine**. It’s probably not on everyone’s favourite list but it has wonderful scenery, great people, mountains, sea resorts with beautiful, white sandy beaches and historical battle fields both in the Crimea and Poltava regions where Peter the Great defeated the Swedes 300 years ago in the Battle of Poltava.
The food is great as mainly fresh produce and ingredients are used; the meat is amongst the best I have tasted and the fish is either straight out of the sea or from the mighty River Dnieper, one of the biggest rivers in Europe. It’s cheap too; delicious beer costs just 45 pence a litre, cigarettes are £4.50 (for 200!) and a three course dinner for two with wine and cognac plus live music is just £15-20.
Add to all of this some of the most beautiful looking ladies on earth, and you can see why Ukraine is on my list!
Where are the worst places or travel experiences you’ve ever been/had?
The worst place for me is Nigeria. I don’t like the climate, it’s filled with con men and there are rip-offs everywhere, but I did still manage to have good times there too.
I’ve also experienced bombs on board; I was on flight to Hamburg with suspected hijackers, which meant we were hours late and I missed meeting my (then) wife for dinner. She had flown in from NYC especially but I didn’t arrive at the hotel until three in morning. When I told her what had didn’t happened she didn’t believe me, until she read papers in the morning! Maybe that’s why she is my ex-wife now…
I was held under arrest in Tehran during the revolution with a great friend Bob Ferguson (now Senior Vice President in charge of catering services for Emirates). We eventually got to the airport by hiding on the floor of a car. We got the last BA flight out of Tehran to London – what a cheer was raised when we crossed the border into Turkish airspace!
You must have met a lot of interesting people – who stands out in particular?
I have met Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow and London when I helped to arrange his lecture tour of UK.
I met Paul McCartney on Concorde – a really nice guy. Also John Major and Tim Rice. I have arranged travel for the Royal Highness, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent’s tour of Kenya.
I met Sarah Ferguson and arranged her charity trips to Kenya after she told me that she’d heard my Kenya tours were the best. I also arranged the honeymoon of the former England Cricket Captain and now Sky Sports broadcaster, David Gower.
I travelled from London to Nashville with Dolly Parton and had sore ribs from laughing so much. I was great friends with Johnny Cash and his wife, June Carter Cash. We used to have dinner together in NYC.
I was friendly with Bruce Springfield too, he would always ask "how many trips?" referring to my Concorde flights – the final count was 718!
Do you prefer to travel alone, with friends, or with family?
I usually travel alone for my business trips but also take my wife with me whenever possible, which is much more pleasant for us both. Being apart from your wife for too long is a recipe for disaster in marriage – as I found out to my own cost.
As the most experienced traveller in the world – what are your top travel tips?
- Use hard suitcases – they can be dropped without anything breaking if packed correctly.
- Pack clothes in bags like you get from the dry cleaners so your clothes won’t crease.
- Have a length of twine or string to repair your suitcase handle when it breaks.
- Carry a travel adaptor that fits all plugs.
- I always take some antibiotics, plasters, and a copy of my prescription for any special medication that I have, in case you get asked what you are carrying.
- Don’t forget contact numbers for your family in all cases.
- Notify your embassy if you’re going to be in a foreign country for some time.
- Don’t take unnecessary risks when travelling. Some people seem to drop their guard when abroad but you should use the same caution as you would at home.
Where are the most underrated travel destinations in the world?
Eastern Europe, Argentina, Siberia and Japan, especially Okinawa which is a great place.
What’s your favourite mode of transport?
My favourite mode of transport without any doubt is my beloved Concorde. I made 718 many trips before it was retired in 2003.
Second, it would be the Douglas DC3 – flying since 1934 and still good. I like 747s and also fighter planes; I’ve flown with the Red Arrows and was also lucky enough to be on the last ever flight of the Phantom Jet in UK.
I also love racing cars. I have driven in the celebrity warm-up race for children’s charities at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone; we raised £100,000 in 20 minutes. I have also driven at Brands Hatch for similar reasons.
Where in the world would you still like to go?
Where to next is a good question! There are a few new countries that have formed following the breakup of the former Soviet Union that I’ve haven’t been to. North Korea is the other country I’ve not visited, but I don’t really want to go there anyway.
I would like to catch the trans-Siberian railway from Moscow to Vladivostok which is a 21 day journey across 11 time zones. The Maharaja train in India is another trip I’d love to do.
Seeing as I’ve travelled to most of the earth, I started looking further afield; I signed on for the Pan American trip to the Moon when they launched passenger services but sadly Pan American are no longer with us, so it’s looking like my travels with be confined to terra firma after all!