David Langan is an extreme traveller from Ireland who has visited almost every country in the world as of September 2021, and hard-to-reach destinations such as Bouvet, British Indian Ocean Territory, Pitcairn, and Wake Island.
What are three of your favourite countries, and why?
The people are so friendly. There is much to see here, and the culture is very old. Every trip to Iran shows new discoveries. I have been six times.
From the islands to the mainland, a very easy country to get around, and it has a great lifestyle.
Canada is vast, yet on any given trip, you can see many changes in scenery. The East Coast with European connections (French, British, and Irish) offers a little bit of Europe in North America. Crossing Canada by rail is a magical experience stopping in the Rockies and finishing up in Vancouver Island. Very enjoyable people and country.
What are three of your favourite travel moments, and why?
Visiting Tuvalu in 1980
On the flight from Fiji, I got talking to a well-dressed man. We talked for most of the flight. I had told him I had read as much as possible about Tuvalu in the Commonwealth Institute in London. (No internet back then). I had read all the legal and government reports. When the flight landed on the grass strip, a full band and dancers graced the plane. I said to myself, wow, what a wonderful greeting on arrival. The gentleman then turned around and said to me, he was the ambassador from the USA (based in Fiji ), and I was invited to the party at the government house. He also then said he had learned more from me about Tuvalu than his government information.
Visiting Tristan da Cunha on St. Patrick’s Day in 2006
I was the only Irish passenger on a Russian expedition ship. We landed safely, and all the passengers had decided to wear something green. It was a fun day, and the best memory was staying overnight on the island with a crayfish supper. The next day most went off to one of the other islands in the group. I stayed on and sat on a high point overlooking the ship and realising how remote, peaceful and quiet this was. A great memory.
Visiting British Indian Ocean Territory in 2005
Four days sailing for Seychelles. It was great weather and calm seas. Sleeping out on deck for some of the time. Arriving on these pristine islands and being so fortunate to visit many of the islands in the group. The sadness of the history of the people who were taken off the islands can be seen in the buildings and graves left behind. Just sitting there on the pure white sands, watching the birds and the crabs in the sand. The never to be forgotten of the beauty under crystal clear water when we dived.
What are three of your worst travel moments, and why?
I have been lucky with health and no personal or thefts on all my trips. I tend to look on the positive when travelling, and everything is a part of learning, like going to school. So it is difficult to find the worst moments as they are so brief in relation to else that happens in relation to travel.
Tokelau in 2018
After a previous failed attempt at visiting these islands, I thought I had everything in place to visit. There are many hurdles to jump. Getting a space on the ship, Getting a permit and trying to communicate with the office in Samoa. I had made a travel plan around the nearby countries and arrived in Samoa, where I discovered that no permit was issued. New health regulations and the boat was full. It was one of those times when you nearly feel ill. But luckily, I was able to come back in four weeks time, and all was now all organised, and I did visit Tokelau. But the stress of it all, I will never forget.
Israel in 2019
This was my second time to Israel. I am a people person and love to chat to people. Sometimes when you visit the country, you get them on a bad day. But like the first time, I found many people very rude. It was surprising to me. Leaving the country is harder than getting in.
The Central African Republic in 2007
Had arrived at the airport to leave with plenty of time. While waiting, I met an ” airport employee” and asked where I could get a drink of Coke Cola. He went off, and I thought he had gone off. One hour or so later, the bar opened, and I was able to get a drink. After which, the “employee” arrived back with two cans of Coke. He was trying to charge me a crazy price, and I told him that since he was gone for over one hour, I had managed to get one when the bar opened. He was not pleased.
Later, the flight was announced, and I went through security and at the end was a final check of the luggage. There dressed in a uniform, was my “airport employee”. He especially made sure he checked my bags and started to take personal items out with a plan to take them for himself. This went on with me putting stuff back and him taking stuff out. As this was going on and on, I then told him to stop taking stuff out of my baggage. He did not. So, I screamed at him at the top of my voice. Everyone was startled, as were the rest of the passengers now getting ready to board the departing flight. That stopped him in his tracks, and he closed the bag. Lesson learned, be careful who you speak to at an airport.
What are three of your best travel tips?
Bring an old wallet with out of date credit cards and a few small bills
If you need to offer money to someone or if being robbed, this will work. I have never been robbed to try this.
No postcards to hotels
As a rule, don’t give postcards to hotels to post. If possible, use the main post office, and I often send from different post boxes.
At check-in, tell the airline staff that you love opening emergency exits and that you are the ideal person to sit there. You need to do this with a bit of Irish charm. It works most times for me.
Bonus: Photo with police or army
Telling the police or army that they look great in their uniform usually means you can end up with a photo of them and you.
Bonus: Keep a spare debit/credit card in another place than your regular wallet when travelling.
Bonus: Plan your next day in advance, allowing for transport and if necessary, write it down.