A Phoenix Man Made His First Overseas Trip in 2002. Now He’s Visited 100 Countries.

Tyre Davis on April 24, 2023 in Andorra, the 100th country he's visited. (Photo courtesy of Tyre Davis)

By Jessica Swarner

May 17, 2023

Tyre Davis started the ABroadWay Youth Passport Scholarship Program and has since awarded funds to four winners.

Tyre Davis remembers seeing dump trucks haul mounds of tomatoes into Buñol, Spain, in preparation for the La Tomatina annual food fight. It was August 2017, and he was in the city’s main plaza watching the pre-fight ritual, “Palo Jabón”—in which people try to climb a greased pole to reach a ham placed on top. The tomatoes rolling past him were about to become the highlight of his trip.

He’d tried to come to the event in 2013, but a plane delay caused him to miss it. This time, though, he was there on time and ready to throw some tomatoes.

A Phoenix Man Made His First Overseas Trip in 2002. Now He’s Visited 100 Countries.
Tyre Davis at the La Tomatina festival in Buñol, Spain in 2017 (Photo courtesy of Tyre Davis)

“You can’t prepare yourself for that. And it’s unbelievable fun, unbelievable fun,” Davis said. “People being able to be free and loose, and I’m just chucking tomatoes in the middle of town—that was crazy.”

Davis, a recreation supervisor for the city of Phoenix, hit the milestone of traveling to 100 countries in April, when he visited Andorra for the first time.

“People who travel, they’re going to go to France, they’re going to go to Spain or whatever. Those places I’ve been, but Andorra gets missed,” the 44-year-old Arizona native said. “And I’m just like, ‘I’m going to go and that’s going to be my 100.’” 

The Road to 100

Davis’ first international trips were to Mexico and Canada, but his first overseas trip came during Thanksgiving of 2002, when he went to Paris. 

“I took French in high school and one day I was like, ‘No, I want to go to France,’” he said. “And so I looked up plane tickets and—crazy—it was like a $300 plane ticket from Phoenix to Paris, and I’m like, ‘I’m going.’”

A Phoenix Man Made His First Overseas Trip in 2002. Now He’s Visited 100 Countries.
Tyre Davis in 2022 in Paraguay, the 95th country he had visited. (Photo courtesy of Tyre Davis)

Davis decided to prioritize travel in his life and used any time off he could to see more countries. By the time 2020 came around, he had visited 86 countries and realized hitting 100 was an attainable goal. 

The COVID-19 pandemic’s pause on international travel slowed him down, but in April he made up for lost time, visiting Morocco, Andorra, Spain, and (once again) France—hitting that 100-country milestone during his trip to the same place where his travel journey began. 

Memorable Places

Davis said his favorite country has come to be Spain, which he’s visited multiple times. Besides La Tomatina, he was in the country for another big event—the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. 

“There’s always something magical about [Spain], and things that you wouldn’t expect to see,” he said. 

In Ghana, Davis visited locations where slave ships left the country to go to the US—a reality that hit Davis hard. 

A Phoenix Man Made His First Overseas Trip in 2002. Now He’s Visited 100 Countries.
Tyre Davis displaying souvenirs he’s collected over his years of traveling. (Photo by Jessica Swarner)

“History is interesting and it shouldn’t be just read,” he said. “I think you just need to experience [it] to get the appreciation for it and why freedom is so important and why it’s so important to respect history so we don’t repeat it.” 

Davis has visited all 50 states, as well as all seven continents. 

On his journey to Antarctica, he ran into the “Amazing Race” filming crew—in both Chile and Argentina. 

“I’m like, ‘I’m onto something here, we’re catching ‘Amazing Race,’” he said. 

On the boat ride there, Davis overheard three fellow travelers who didn’t know each other discover they had all climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with the same guide—a coincidence that Davis called “insane.”

Helping Others Travel

Davis felt travel had such a positive impact on his life that he wanted to help other young people see the world. 

In February 2020, he started the ABroadWay Youth Passport Scholarship Program—which provides passport funding and kits for young people interested in traveling. In the beginning, Davis funded the program entirely himself. After he announced the project on social media, his traveler friend Ebone Johnson began contributing, and others joined in. Davis and Johnson now work together on the program, spreading the word about it on their Facebook pages.

A Phoenix Man Made His First Overseas Trip in 2002. Now He’s Visited 100 Countries.
Tyre Davis (left) with three winners of his Broadway Youth Scholarship Program in 2021 (photo courtesy of Tyre Davis)

ABroadWay Youth Passport has awarded funds to four young travelers since it began. Davis said he’s hoping to raise enough for six more scholarships this year.  

Applicants must submit an essay explaining where they want to travel and why. A panel of judges reads the essays and chooses the winners. The awards pay for the winners’ passports and provide them with travel kits, including guides to their destinations, portable chargers, electric converters, and passport books. 

“[The applicants] wrote these essays about why they wanted to go abroad…and just reinspired me,” Davis said. “I had started [traveling] later…24, 25. And here these are 16, 17-year-olds. I’m like, ‘Man, they’re getting a head start.’”

Advice for Travelers

Davis said he can’t see his life without travel anymore, and he finds there is power in sharing his experiences with others. 

“I think [travel’s] changed my perspective on a lot of things,” he said. “Just being willing to understand other people and just making it a priority to understand other people.” 

Davis’ advice for people who want to travel more is to keep an eye out for deals and understand that “cheap” doesn’t always mean a place is “less than”—he once stayed at a hotel in Guatemala for $15 a night that he said was the cleanest place he’s ever been. 

And, overall, he said, people shouldn’t be afraid to experience a new culture or language. 

“Don’t be scared, don’t be intimidated, and don’t think that it’s impossible,” he said. 

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Author

  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

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