NewsRegionWayne County


Retired metro Detroit teacher has visited every country in the world, wrote book

Posted at 4:55 PM, Dec 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-21 16:55:56-05

Take a moment to count how many countries you've been to. Can you count it all on one hand?

One local retired teacher went on a quest to travel to 252 countries and lands. The Grosse Pointe man wrote a book about it.

Rufus McGaugh is a retired 7th grade social studies teacher and has spent the past 50 years traveling the world.

"I've been to all 50 states, 7 continents, 252 countries and lands through out the world."

His first international visit was to Vietnam, as a Marine.

"This is a horrible way to travel."

Soon after he went on a less dangerous tour.

"I got a couple of friends together, we put our backpacks and off to Europe we went for three months."

He explains his love for travel in a new book: "Longitude and Latitude with Attitude."

"No matter what I saw, I wanted to see more."

His favorite trip was Russia because that's where he adopted his oldest son.

"Without a doubt that was the best and greatest trip ever."

Rufus loves mountain ranges, like the Swiss Alps. He also enjoys seeing how other people live.

"One of the most surprising things was to see in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia, some of the most primitive tribes still existing."

How could he afford these trips?

"I'm a real cheapskate and a tightwad," he explained. "Whether it's sleeping on a park bench or sleeping on an all night train. I actually slept in a zoo once, not proud of it."

Rufus keeps nine passports filled with stamps. He has unique artifacts and funny souvenirs, like a Barf laundry detergent box.

Rufus would buy hats and wear them in class when teaching about the country it's from.

"I would look like a complete fool, which at 7th grade, it doesn't get any better than your teacher looking like a fool."

His advice to folks is to travel now,  don't wait until you retire. Don't be afraid to visit countries like North Korea or Russia.

"Universality of people is just being nice and decent."

The 68-year-old has no plans on putting away his passport.

He added, "I hope I'm going to say, I had a good life."