by JENNIFER FRAKES | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Ask Bill Altaffer if he has traveled to a particular spot in the world, and the answer will most likely be yes. Bill has set foot in every country in the world and has visited more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other person on the planet. To date, Bill has been to 799 of these sites which are deemed to have universal natural and/or cultural value. “[The status of Most Traveled Man] comes from various organizations that track travel. It allows me to say that there isn’t a person living whose country I haven’t visited,” said Bill, who has also surfed every continent and skied on six of them.

The traveling bug bit Bill early on in life. “My family [took] long trips around the world to over 80 countries. As I got older, I traveled as a surfer and then as a tour manager for Hemphill-Harris. When I joined the Traveler’s Century Club [a club for travelers who have been to 100+countries], I became motivated to visit every country in the world,” explained Bill, who credits world explorer John Goddard with inspiring him to engage in extreme travel.

Bill’s wife, Qing, is from Shanghai, and they met while Bill was traveling. They now live in Carmel Valley with their daughter, Lena, and their son, Joe. Bill and Qing chose the Carmel Valley area because of the excellent schools. “Lena goes to Canyon Crest Academy and Joe just graduated from Sage Canyon Elementary,” related Bill.

While Bill may have settled down a bit, he is still involved in extreme travel. He owns Expedition Photo Travel, a company that designs custom, private travel to the most remote areas of the world. His next adventure is a circumnavigation of Turkey, with the island groups of the Spratlys and the Parcels as focal points.

According to Bill, the most incredible place he has visited is Socotra, a remote archipelago of four islands in the Indian Ocean. While he loves the people and the land of Russia, he has no desire to return to Siberia. And although it may seem like Bill racks up frequent flier miles, he points out that the airlines that fly to remote destinations often don’t have such programs. “I’m only average on frequent flier miles,” commented Bill.

It certainly feels nice knowing that out of all the places in the world the Most Traveled Man has visited, he chose to reside in 92131.