John Clouse has the thickest, most dog-eared passport in the world. Turn to page 16 of the 1996 Guiness Book of World Records and you will find the reason. He holds the record for traveling to all 192 of the globe's inde-pendent countries, and to all but a few of the other territories that existed in early 1996.
Clouse, who has spent about $1.25 million roaming from A to Z in the past 40 years, says he travels for the love of it, not to outrun anybody else who may be keeping a list. He is now down to just three remote islands to visit.
Clouse has continued his journeys since making the record book, and not only has he visited every country in the world, but some two or three times. Now he is focusing on the remaining three islands.
"Yeah, I 've been trying to get to three places: one is the Paracel Islands, owned by China in the South China Sea," he says. "And on two occasions the weather has kept me from reaching Bouvet, an island in Norwegian Antarctica. No. 3 is Clipperton, a French island about 700 miles west of Acapulco."
After all his traveling, he says, "I don't believe there are evil empires and evil people. Yes, there are some bad leaders in the world, but seeing people as individuals has taught me that they are all basically alike. You can be in some terrible place and someone will extend hospitality to you."
Clouse travels light, with a small suitcase, and seldom goes first class. His collection of National Geographic magazines is his source for research. Years ago he stopped taking photos and now keeps a journal of his travels. He has crossed the Atlantic Ocean at least 100 times, and the Pacific Ocean 40 or 50 times.
Clouse concludes that the right attitude is synonymous with the lightness of his suitcase. 'Travel without a lot of mental baggage," he says. "Try not to go with preconceived notions that the place will be dirty or hostile, and if it is, go with the flow and make the best of it."
"Learn a few words like please and thank you" he suggests. "That really pleases people."