Addicted to Travel

From the Fall 2014 edition of Vanderbilt Business

Around the world in 80 days? Tyler Narveson needs only 17.

The Colorado native, who finished his MBA in May, travels for both business and pleasure, calling his “addiction to travel” his passion. Having circumnavigated the earth five times already—at 28 years old—he was recently featured in an August Wall Street Journal article about the current popularity of round-the-world travel.

“It was fun,” he says, “because I was doing a round-the-world trip the day it was published.”

That trip’s first leg was to Finland, followed by Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Qatar, Bangladesh and China before he returned home. Using an American Airlines Explorer award, he pieced the trip together based on flights available through American’s flight alliances.

“It was a bit much, to be honest,” he says. “It was just 2 1/2 weeks. The ones for work have usually been three to six weeks.”

Before graduate work at Vanderbilt, Narveson worked for Accenture, a multinational consulting firm serving clients in more than 200 cities in 56 countries.

“I did a project for the U.S. Department of State where I traveled to different embassies,” he says. “In two years, I went to 18 countries. My first round-the-world was China to Paris to Equatorial Guinea to Algeria and back. It was quite an experience.”

Now working for health care firm DaVita and based in Nashville, he’s hoping for more travel opportunities. “One of the things I like about DaVita is that they’re expanding internationally, so there may be travel opportunities down the road,” he says.

Narveson’s taste for travel was whetted by a study-abroad experience in Shanghai when he was an undergraduate at Colorado State University. “Studying in China was still kind of new at the time,” he says. “When I was there, no one spoke English. Now I go and everyone speaks English. The city has grown immensely.”

That rate of change is part of what drives his wanderlust—that, and wanting to get in as many countries as possible before life’s responsibilities slow him down.

“Originally, my goal was 50 countries by the time I was 30, but I passed that,” he says. (His current tally is 54.) “My life goal is now 100.”

Narveson’s main recommendation for other travelers is to find the hidden gems off the beaten path.

“Find those changing parts of the world now,” he says. “Western Europe will always be there, the Eiffel Tower will be there in 70 years, but I was just in Bangladesh, and I’m sure in 70 years, it will be drastically different.”