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The Road to 193 with Jazmin Gaite

Jazmin Gaite and Al Manahan in Viña de Mar, Chile
Where and when was your first trip outside of your home country?

My first trip was with my ex-husband to the US in 1985 to plan our relocation from the Philippines to the United States. It was a trip around the US to scout for a place to relocate. Our trip took us to California, Illinois, New York, Washington DC, Missouri, and Florida. By this time, all our 3 children have been born, but they were 3, 5 and 7 years old. We decided to settle in California and in the City of Los Angeles as it is a bigger city with lots of business opportunities. After settling in California, I spent most of my time raising my 3 kids and taking care of my retirement home business so there was no time nor money to spend on leisure or travel.

I made sure all the 3 kids were finished with college before starting to travel. My first trip for pleasure was with my mother after my father died. As soon as we buried my father in the Philippines, I took my mom with me to the US and we started to travel together. We traveled to China – Beijing, Xian, Shanghai. Then we did a land tour of Greece and a cruise in the Mediterranean – Mykonos, Santorini, Dubrovnik, Corfu, IstanbulThen my two sisters and their families and I took my mom on a European land trip – England, France, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Germany. My first travels were to take my mom away from the Philippines to ease her loneliness. After that it was for the pleasure of seeing foreign places.


What is it about traveling that appeals to you the most?


I enjoy the planning stages of traveling. I enjoy reading materials and watching movies related to my travel, learning the history, culture and even the language of the places I am planning to visit. The educational content of traveling is probably what appeals to me the most. Then getting to see the places and verifying the contents of what I have read gives me much pleasure. I enjoy discovering the nuances of language and similarities of culture and history.


How many UN recognized sovereign countries have you visited? How many continents have you been to?


90 countries and 6 continents. Just missing Antarctica which I am scheduled to visit in November 2021 with ChimuAdventures, if the pandemic situation permits.


When did you consciously start counting countries?


Only after I joined Odette Ricasa’s travel club in Los Angeles sometime in 2010. Odette introduced me to the Travelers Century Club in 2016 which has a different country count than the UN count and by Nolan Tianco to NomadMania which likewise has a different country count than the UN and Travelers Century Club.


What was the most difficult country to enter in your experience?


I must say Bolivia because of the difficulty I experienced lining up under the sun in the middle of a small remote town with cattle and buses crisscrossing my path.


What was the most inaccessible country you visited?


Tibet before the trains were built. Only one way to make it to Tibet, by plane from Chengdu.


What place draws you back more than the others and why?


I must say Turkey because of the rich history and archeological sites that continue to be discovered there to this day.


What is your most memorable travel experience? 


Meeting my suitor in Cairo and cruising the Nile with him on my 53rd birthday.


Jazmin Gaite and Al Manahan in Argentina Lake District

What do you carry in your travel bag?


Passport, cash, credit cards, camera and telephone, noise canceling device, jacket, parka, pants, shirts, medicines, toiletries, nuts, ginger chews, M&Ms.


Were you ever seriously ill while traveling and how did you cope with it?


I fell ill with Montezuma’s revenge as soon as we landed in Tirana, Albania. We were only there 4 days and I was ill the whole 4 days. I took the anti diarrhea pills I brought from home, took all the antibiotics I brought and nothing worked. I almost passed out from dehydration. A co-traveler from India suggested I take the ashes that he brought along for that purpose. I said I will take anything at that point provided it was not the ashes of his mother. To which he said try it. I did and those ashes worked. I put the ashes in water and they will not dissolve. They just floated on top of the water and it was difficult to drink but I had to bite the bullet. I did not want to be left behind in a hospital in Albania, the poorest country in the Balkans. Those ashes worked and I was able to continue with my journey.


You have traveled with your partner for many years. What is the key to keeping a harmonious relationship while forging rough travel roads?


I have traveled with my boyfriend for the last 16 years, starting from Egypt in 2005 to Alaska in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. This year we’ve traveled to several National and State Parks in the U.S. and we have booked train trips in August to Glacier National Park and Waterton International Peace Garden. In 2005, I told him I will meet him in Cairo and he did meet me. Our flights arrived 3 hours apart. He waited for me at the Cairo Airport. And we hit it off from there. The secret - he always agrees with me. I decide the places where we go, where we eat, where we sleep. In return, I don’t bring him to shopping sprees unless he volunteers to take me.


How do you think the pandemic has changed your travel plans?


We canceled all our cruises starting in March 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic. We were supposed to be in Brazil on March 13, 2020 to meet our ship. Our itinerary included the coast of Brazil, cross the Atlantic and all the coastal cities of West Africa – Rio to Capetown for 30 days. It was fortunate that we canceled it before we even left Los Angeles. Canceled our cruise to Greenland in August 2020. Canceled our Balkan trip for April 2021. Canceled our Switzerland by train for May 2021. We are still hoping our trip to Antarctica in November 2021 will not be canceled. I am more leery of getting on planes and going on cruises now. If ever I cruise again, I will not opt for the cheaper inside rooms again for fear that in the event of an epidemic on the ship, I will not be able to have access to the sun or fresh air. Before the pandemic, I preferred sitting near the front of the plane so that it is easier to disembark. During the epidemic when we traveled to Alaska because of all the fires burning in the Los Angeles area causing a lot of unhealthy air, I opted to take the very last seats when we flew to Fairbanks. The rationale for my choice – my belief that the air at the back of the plane is cleaner.  Because of my fear of contamination on planes and ships, I now take trips by land, so local trips preferably on an RV to avoid having to stay in hotels and dining in restaurants. When choosing places to stay, I opt for accommodations that do not have long inside corridors and lobbies where incidence of contamination may be higher. I prefer to stay in motor hotels where you get to your room direct from the parking lot or in casitas - independent stand-alone units accessible directly from the outside.


What’s first on your travel list when normal travel resumes?


I have a pending booking for travel to the 5 Stans plus Afghanistan. We have travel arrangements for Easter Island, Antarctica and Patagonia in November, a cruise from Dubai to Capetown in December with stops in Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, Reunion and South Africa. I also want to take the trans-Siberian railway from Moscow to Vladivostok. I want to do Switzerland by train that was canceled due to the pandemic. I want to do the cruise to Greenland that was also canceled. I want to do the trans-Mongolian railway from Moscow to Beijing. So many wants but so little time to do them with the pandemic still looming in the air and the presence of new variants. We may have to live with this pandemic for a long time and the vaccines are not a guarantee that we will not get covid.


About Jazmin Gaite

Jazmin Gaite is the eldest of nine children. She graduated high school from St. Paul’s College Manila and received her Political Science and Law degrees from the University of the Philippines. She worked as a lawyer in the Philippines for ten years until her family moved to the United States in 1986. She currently operates a retirement home for the elderly in Los Angeles. Jazmin didn’t start traveling until her three children graduated from college. She feels lucky to have met a man who shares her passion for travel and who is willing to go where she decides to travel. They have been traveling together for 16 years and plan to continue exploring the world until it is no longer safe to do so. Jasmin has visited 90 UN countries and 128 countries/territories included in the Travelers Century Club official list.


Images by Jasmin Gaite


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The Road to 193 is a series of interviews with world travelers who are on a quest to visit all 193 United Nations recognized sovereign countries. Less than 300 travelers from around the world have visited all 193 countries, according to Nomad Mania, a non profit organization that validates the countries and regions visited by its community of travelers through a rigorous verification process. The goal of visiting all 193 countries is elusive at times and fraught with challenges including trying to get a visa, going to a war torn country, finding passage to a remote island nation, traveling to dangerous locations and when the budget doesn’t quite fit the bill. But once conquered, the traveler joins an exclusive club of world travelers who persisted to reach their final destination. 



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