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Meet the 79-year-old who has traveled to all 193 countries in the world

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(NEW YORK) — A 79-year-old woman has achieved her goal of traveling to every country in the world and she told “Good Morning America” it has been a “dream come true.”

Luisa Yu said ever since she was a young girl in the Philippines, she has “always” dreamed of traveling.

“When I [went to] the movies, I [saw] this beautiful backdrop about the scenery, the nature, the rivers, the mountains, and that fascinated me,” Yu recalled. “That’s why I always thought someday I will go to these places and travel.”

Yu said she came to the U.S. as an exchange student when she was 23 and began to travel when she could.

“I started in the U.S. first because of my status … I couldn’t go out of the country,” Yu explained. “So I decided to take a Greyhound bus and tour the United States.”

“Greyhound was the best because you just hop in,” she continued. “Then the next day, you’re in another state.”

After working in the medical technology field, Yu embraced a second career as a travel agent so she could have more flexibility to take time off to travel.

For the past five decades, she traveled wherever she could, from European countries like Italy to Asian nations like Thailand, and further, to African countries such as Libya and Middle Eastern countries like Iran.

Eventually, she said she decided she wanted to visit all 193 countries that are member states of the United Nations.

“Even though [some places were considered] dangerous, I said, ‘I think I can do this. I want to see these places [with] my own eyes because there’s a lot of history and culture that happened there,"” Yu said of her motivation.

Yu completed her goal Nov. 9, 2023, crossing Serbia off her travel bucket list after her friends convinced her to wait to visit the Balkan country last.

“They said, ‘You’re gonna have to come to Serbia because we will be flying. We are very close too and we’re going to celebrate your last country,"” she recounted. “Little did I know that when I arrived, they were already having all these preparations for me. [It] was a big surprise.”

Nomad Mania recognized Yu as one of two people from the Philippines to become a “UN Master,” someone who has traveled to all 193 countries.

After visiting so many countries and meeting countless people along the way, many of whom have become her friends, Yu said she’s learned we’re all more similar than we might think.

“I have seen a lot of things from different people, their life and their cultures — I learned a lot,” she said. “And I find that everybody is like us. They have a dream for a better job and a better opportunity, and most of them are very, very kind and very helpful.”

For anyone else who dreams of traveling, Yu encourages them to take the leap.

“I always tell them, ‘Don’t be afraid, go out, travel,"” Yu said. “Don’t wait for anybody because if the opportunity comes, it might never happen again. Just be yourself. And also, if there’s a will, there’s a way. Nothing is going to be impossible. You just have to go out there.”

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