Around the World

Lessons From the Youngest World Traveler: Lexie Alford’s Tips to Exploring the Globe

For many of us, visiting a new country is at the top of our bucket lists. Whether it be snorkeling through Thailand’s Phi Phi Islands, or testing out your hiking skills around the Great Wall of China, there’s something for everyone out there! One woman who wanted to find herself in the best way possible was Lexie Alford.

Sure, it’s exciting to visit a far-away continent, but have you ever considered tackling the whole world? This 21-year-old can successfully say she’s paid a visit to every single country on the globe, and now wants to give future travelers a few tips! Backpackers everywhere, you better get your notepads and pens at the ready.

Claiming the Prize

How many people have traveled across the globe? Not a huge amount. Because Lexie is so brave, the 21-year-old may soon be qualifying for a very important title, that will get her name known in all of the countries she’s visited. She just needs to get the paperwork sorted first!

So, what will she be achieving? A Guinness World Record; this has an impressive ring to it! The current titleholder is James Asquith, who broke the record as the youngest person to visit all 196 countries in 2013. In order to beat James, Lexie is currently having 10,000 documents under close inspection. It’s not easy being a record breaker!

A Little About Lexie

There’s a ton to cover with regards to this young girl’s adventures, so what better way to start than by giving her a little introduction? You could say Lexie was destined to lead a globe-trotting life. Why is this? Her mom founded a travel agency! Talk about lending a helping hand.

What a life! As keen travelers, Mr. and Mrs. Alford never left little Lexie out of their adventures. Coming from such a small town in Northern California, they felt it was important for their daughter to learn the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone, showing her as much of the world as possible.

Finding Herself

A lot of us may go on vacation with our parents to the stereotypical beach resorts for a few weeks out of the year, but the Alfords are a little less conventional. Whether it be the Burj Khalifa in Dubai or the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, there wasn’t a single part of the world they wouldn’t show to little Lexie!

We’re sure this made for an epic bonding experience, but these trips were so much more than just a way of spending quality time together. Upon reflection, Lexie admits that her island-hopping parents made her into the woman she is today, piquing her interest in how other’s live their lives.

The Next Steps

It turns out, not everything about Lexie’s life was so extraordinary. In some ways, she was no different from her peers. By 18, Alford had graduated from a local college, but like any other teenager, she felt intimidated by the prospects of what she was going to do next. She was only young, and there was no blueprint plan set!

There may not have been a career goal in sight, but there was one thing this girl knew: she wanted to see the world, or at least the rest of it anyway, as she’d already visited 72 countries! Recognizing the traveling advantage she had over her peers, Lexie put her thinking cap on and tried to find a way to take this passion to the next level.

A New Idea

So, what was Lexie to do? Hours of deliberating turned into days and days turned to weeks until she settled on a less traditional, and more free-spirited idea. You heard it here first, Lexie Alford decided she wanted to see some more interesting countries, pack up her bags and go traveling.

Being only a teenager, Lexie was, of course, a little frightened about the brave decision. This fear only lasted a couple of minutes though, before remembering that traveling was basically in her blood! All of her previous experiences had put her in good stead to suck it up and book those plane tickets.

Making It a Record

Here’s where it all gets interesting. As we know, Lexie’s decision to travel came as an impulsive whim to follow what she was most passionate about. It wasn’t until more people got in the know about her crazy project that she decided to make things a bit more ambitious. After all, a little competition is healthy!

How did she do this? By setting out to break the world record as the youngest person to travel the world. Yes, we did just say the world. After researching, Alford concluded she needed 6 years to complete the task. Given her globe-trotting background, 6 years to see it all seemed like a walk in the park!

Proving a Point

Things were starting to get serious. The more people who found out about Lexie’s mission, the more purpose it seemed to hold. Hit with the sudden realization that she was actually inspiring people, Lexie started to consider herself something of a role model, and we can’t argue with that!

It quickly dawned on the Californian that there was a bigger picture. Yes, she wanted to tour the globe to pursue her dreams, but for the sake of others, she had to prove a point. By taking on such a grand project solo, Lexie singlehandedly shut down all the negative press about the world. It’s really not that scary, and it needs to be explored!

A Huge Commitment

How many 18 years olds do you know with a world-class goal set out? This is almost an impossible task to complete at such a young age, and Lexie shortly learned that the hard way! What once seemed like a fault-proof plan, slowly started to present challenge after challenge.

In all honesty, Lexie hadn’t a clue what she was getting herself into, but what’s the one thing that can overcome any hardship? Hard work. As we continue through her globe-trotting journey, you’ll learn this was no vacation. There were moments where most of us would consider giving up, but Lexie was no quitter!

Travel Coach

Lexie Alford faced struggles reaching the youngest world traveler status; be it visa issues, sickness or financial problems. Despite this, there was no hurdle she couldn’t overcome without a little forward thinking! In order to ensure future travelers don’t fall into the stereotypical pitfalls one often does, she’s opening up to all who’s interested!

Without much further ado, let us present to you the experiences of this traveler, which in turn work as handy tips and tricks for the future backpacker. Whether it be in India, Iceland, or just any other country on this Earth, these tips may just save your globe-trotting lives.

Overcome Your Fears

Have you always dreamed of traveling, but often let your fears stand in the way of pursuing this? Lexie is here, and she’s come to tell it’s all in your head! Possibly one of the most anxious travelers was the Californian girl herself. To tackle this, she learned a little about where these fears were originating from.

Once you’ve grabbed your fear at the root, pull it out! Lexie’s multitude of adventure-halting fears included heights, loneliness, and regret. Once the traveler understood where these fears were stemming from, she was able to tackle them head-on. Suddenly, it seemed there wasn’t a single thing this girl couldn’t accomplish!

Don’t Fall for the Tricks

In today’s day and age, people can get so caught up with trying to put forward an exciting life on their social media, that it often could not be a further stretch from the truth. While most travelers fill their Instagram pages with gorgeous snapshots of their journeys, the reality of it may be something quite different. Oh, the deception!

Here to tell you that traveling isn’t all pretty sunsets and calming waterfalls is Lexie Alford! One of the biggest lessons she wants future explorers to learn is that “perfection is an optical illusion.” It is not until you go through the hardships of a journey that you really learn something, so consider yourself lucky if things don’t go to plan!

Accept Everything

Here come the bumps in the road! During a trip to Sri Lanka, Lexie thought she was doing the right thing by not entering an area less generated by tourism to get some authenticity, but boy did this idea backfire! In the most Lexie way possible, she shrugged her shoulders and accepted that such is life.

One of the biggest lessons this woman has come out with from traveling is that things don’t always go as expected, and the only way of dealing with this is through, you guessed it, the power of acceptance! Sometimes, just sometimes, the mistakes might actually result in something better.

Pursue Your Own Passions

Ever since touring the globe, you might say Lexie Alford has become quite the philosopher! During one of her public speeches, the Californian shed some light on daily life, and how the everyday person works to fit the expectations of others. What does Lexie say about this? Stop immediately!

If you’ve got a dream, make it a reality. Had Lexie planned her life according to the expectations of society and continued studying after college, she’d have never been in the running for a new world record. In order to get the best out of life, you simply have to live it for yourself, and absolutely no one else. Talk about inspirational words!

Ditch the Cellphone

In the profound words of the seasoned traveler, Lexie Alford: “you have to reconnect by disconnecting.” While many of Lexie’s friends find it strange she’s never used an international SIM card before, the traveler actually has a very smart reason behind this choice.

Does she not want to rack up data charges? Not exactly. In actual fact, Alford finds it important to stay present on her travels, so as not to miss a minute of it. You see, it’s all about making memories! If ever Lexie needs something, she’ll do things the old-fashioned way; by asking the people around her.

The Biggest Healer

She may seem cool, calm and collected now, but life wasn’t always so easy for Lexie Alford. Growing up, the young Californian struggled to fit in at her high school. Can you believe it? She may have been unhappy then, but it only fueled a fire inside of her to change things around for the better!

How did she change things? Setting a goal to go and explore. For Lexie, traveling the world was the form of escapism that, you might say, kept her sane. Feeling down? Lexie stresses the importance of getting out of your hometown bubble and experiencing all life has to offer, you’ll be met by some beautiful views along the way!

Be a Smart Spender

The question probably resounding in most people’s minds now, is how did Lexie fund the whole thing? Get ready to feel super proud. This world traveler may have been young, but not too young not to understand the value of money.

Preparation is key for this type of thing. If Lexie was going to do this journey solo, she’d need to learn how to afford it on her own, too. Ever since she was young, Lexie has been a member of the world of work. Whether it be as a freelance photographer or a manager at her mother’s travel agency, this girl worked her socks off.

Keep It Savvy

She may have been earning the dollars, but was she saving it? Being young, it’s tempting to go out and splurge all your shiny, new earnings; but Lexie was a little beyond her years in this department. For Miss Alford, it was all about prioritizing her money.

“I don’t spend money on fancy clothes or shoes – I still wear clothes I’ve had since high school,” said no teenage girl ever, but Lexie Alford! Having travel agent parents also allowed this girl to get the best deals on flights and hotels; genius! If you want to travel, make it a priority and don’t fall into any spending traps.

Take Extra Precautions

It’s better to be safe than sorry in life! Fully aware of the dangers tied into traveling solo, Lexie wanted to make sure she wasn’t putting herself at any risk while undertaking this record-breaking challenge. To stay careful, Lexie was often forced to cut her trips short in certain areas.

In recent interviews, Alford admitted to wanting to spend more time in Middle-Eastern places like “South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Somalia.” Sadly, she didn’t quite have the financial bonuses to carry out the necessary safety precautions in these places, so it was onto the next country! Never take any risky chances while traveling.

Keep Pushing On

No matter how hard things get, you must play the hand you’re dealt! The Middle East was tricky, but West and Central Africa were even trickier. Lexie was a little overwhelmed when entering this section of the world due to its lack of catering to tourists. Not to mention the visas required here!

High costs everywhere you turn, language barriers and limited infrastructure were just a few issues Lexie met on her tour around this part of the world! To adapt to her surroundings, Lexie had to develop a thick skin – a necessity for any tourist. If you can keep a brave face, you can survive anything!

Lone Traveler

Of course, time spent as a solo traveler can be an isolating experience. At many points throughout her journey, Lexie felt a wave of “intense loneliness” rush over her. This is a common trend experienced by thousands of lone travelers every year, but Lexie still doesn’t want this to discourage any adventurers from taking the plunge!

We’re not sure when it happened, but at some point in her trip, Lexie overcame her fears and found a new solace in being alone. Without the distraction of others, Lexie was able to plan her excursions based on what she wanted to do, and where she wanted to go. To get the most out of traveling, you must embrace the loneliness.

Focus on Less-Developed Places

Now, here’s the part we really want to know about. Out of all the places Lexie toured over the duration of her travels, which place was the friendliest? Spending time getting to know other cultures meant Lexie could get a real feel for a country, rather than just inspecting the best spots to get an Instagram post!

To put it simply, you need to start from the bottom and work your way up. In Lexie’s own words, “the countries that have the least are usually the places that have the kindest people.” For that reason, we recommend taking the trip to places that aren’t fueled by tourism if you want to make friends with the locals along the way!

Do the Unexpected

Following on from this previous statement, Lexie puts forward a very important moral message to her followers of eager explorers. When traveling, there are obviously going to be areas you’re most excited about visiting, and other places you’re maybe less keen to see.

According to Lexie, it is the places you’re the least excited about, that end up surprising you the most. Going into countries with a lower reputation, you tend to have very low hopes that transform into utter fulfillment and enjoyment. In other words, make your travels as unconventional as you like, it will work wonders on the experience!

Focus on Yourself

Traveling can certainly take it out of you, and Lexie Alford knows that all too well! Straight after visiting the final destination, North Korea, off the list of 196 total nations, Lexie cannot wait for her next steps. Ok, so they might be a little slower-paced than she’s been used to the last couple of years, but they’ll bring her straight back to reality.

So, what does the experienced world traveler plan to do? Absolutely nothing! Now that the hard part is over, Lexie is eager to nourish her “physical and mental health” by enjoying some much-needed chill-time. It’s important for all travelers to get the rest they need after their explorations, to recharge and to keep your health intact.

Further Support

So, have we inspired you yet? If you’re still wanting to get a little more advice before taking a dive into the whole traveler experience, Lexie is here to save the day! She may be taking things easy now her record-breaking mission is complete, but she’s always available to lend a helping hand to others.

Lexie has created her own blog which goes by the name “Lexie Limitless.” Here, you can get an in-depth description of each of the countries she’s visited, so consider it a guidebook preparing you for your own future travels!