Where in the world is Adam Mellor?
Adam Mellor is on a mission to live with no regrets.
The 42-year-old Cranston native has been traveling for 14 months and counting during his quest to see all 196 countries on the globe. The inspiration for his trials and tribulations hold more local connections though.
His expedition was driven by family in more ways than one. Adam grew up hearing yarns from his grandfather, Don, about picking up and taking spontaneous cross-country trips with nothing but maps and pockets full of cash.
“There were no GPS systems, ATMs or credit cards,” Mellor said. “It’s fair to say my grandparents inspired many of us to venture out and see the world. At 93 and 96 years old, they still live in Cranston. My grandfather works for the Cranston Library and receives daily updates from the staff who are following me on Facebook. He is my hero for sure. In my early 30s, I knew I wanted to do something big but wasn’t sure what that might be.”
Many members of Mellor’s extended family had already done “something big,” too, and he wanted to stake his claim as well. His uncle, Tom, earned a silver medal at the 1972 Olympics and suited up for the Detroit Red Wings. His uncle, Paul, is an author and has run marathons in every state. His mother, Kathy, was the 2004 National Teacher of the Year. The list carries on.
Needless to say, Adam wanted to succeed in what he loved most, just like his relatives. He did some soul searching, and it didn’t take long to make a discovery.
“It came after having a simple conversation with myself,” Adam Mellor said. “‘Adam, what's one thing you love to do the most?’ My answer came pretty quick, travel! But travel was the one thing I did the least. I recall reading an article about a guy who visited all 196 countries in the world and I immediately knew that was what I wanted to do, step foot on every country.”
Adam, then in his early 30s, entered the planning stages. He saved up and designed his route for nearly a decade before embarking on his journey. On Dec. 5, 2015, Adam had breakfast with his friends and gave his grandfather a phone call to tell him he was “following [his] dreams.”
He left behind a lucrative sales career and a now-rented home in Falls Church, Virginia, and drove his truck through the southern United States into Central America.
His drive took him through a few states, including Tennessee and Texas, before crossing the border into Mexico. His voyage has taken him through Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, among numerous others, during his trek across continents.
“I'm on country 35 so I have a lot of work to do,” Adam said. “Poco a poco is what they say, ‘little by little.’ I think by year four, I should have around 80 of the 196.”
Adam has made a point of enjoying every place to which he has ventured, and he has met characters who have set out on similar expeditions. He encountered Tony Giles, a Brit who is blind and 80 percent deaf. Despite these obstacles, Giles travels alone and has visited 116 countries. Adam spent five days with Giles as they explored the Copan Ruins in Honduras.
Adam also shared an anecdote about a late night in Nicaragua when he lost his way on the Pan-American Highway. He pulled over to investigate his GPS when a shirtless man with no shoes approached him.
“I dropped the window a few inches,” Adam said. “In perfect English he asked me if I needed help. I told him I was lost and just needed a safe place to park my truck and sleep. He suggested I just park on his property and spend the night there. Before I knew it, I was sitting in his living room, his girlfriend made me hot chicken soup and he handed me a cold beer. Then I climbed in my truck and went to sleep. I have countless stories like this. The overwhelming majority of the people in the world are great.”
Adam values experiences over possessions, and it shows. He does not have a storage unit in Virginia, and virtually everything he owns rests in the back of his truck.
The local adventurer said he has never been “robbed, insulted, disrespected or felt scared” despite often entering unfamiliar territory.
Maybe because unfamiliar territory is all too familiar to Adam at this point.
“As my grandfather says, ‘You don’t see a U-haul behind a hearse,’” he quipped. “I simply take it one day at a time. I am spending more than I thought as I’m getting good at saying, ‘Screw it, you only live once’ and I splurge on scuba diving, a trip to Antarctica and other activities. Not sure if I’ll ever be back so I tend to just go for it.”
Adam will continue to tour South America for the next six to eight months before finishing in Uruguay. From there, he will have his truck shipped across the Atlantic to Belgium, where the European portion of his mission will commence.
For now, though, he would like to attend a Chilean language school for three months to become more fluent in Spanish. Outside of that, he hasn’t planned ahead much. It’s simply his spur-of-the-moment personality.
The former salesman, who has since conquered mountains, climbed icebergs and across country after country, says his advice to fellow aspiring travelers is simple: Go for it.
“There will be people who will tell you that you have everything you need at home,” Adam said. “How painful would it be to sit in a chair at 85 years old and say ‘I should’ve done this, I wish I had done that.’ Many messages and answers reside in our gut. Listen to your gut and go for it. Everyday I’m blown away finding out what I’m truly capable of doing. It’s a fascinating process and I'm a better person because of it.”