Ladies We Love is a monthly interview series with women from around the world that provide us with inspiration through their travels and personal stories.
This month we got to know the youngest person to travel to every country in the world Lexie Alford of Lexie Limitless.
1) Lexie, please introduce yourself to our readers? What do you do? Where are you from?
I’m a 21-year-old woman from a small town in Northern California and I recently broke the Guinness World Record for the Youngest Person to Travel to Every Country. I was able to travel to 196 countries by working as a photographer, travel writer, social media influencer and travel consultant at my family’s travel agency in California.
All of these along with other small projects allowed me to self fund my trip around the world which took nearly 3 years to complete.
2) Congratulations you recently became the youngest person to travel to every country, beating the last record by 3 years, what inspired you to take on this challenge?
I first had the idea to travel to every country when I graduated from college at 18 years old. At that time, I had traveled to 70 countries with my family who owns a travel agency. That’s when everyone started asking me what I wanted to do with my life.
I knew I wanted to pursue something less traditional than a 9-5 job and I wanted to see as much of the world as possible while I was still young and capable. I had been saving to take a gap year to travel since I was 12 years old and only 2 months into my gap year I found the Guinness World Record.
I knew I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t attempt to beat it and, little did I know at the time, it would put me on a path towards an unbelievable adventure!
3) As someone who has traveled to all 196 countries, what countries make your top 5 and why?
Indonesia for the scuba diving, Egypt for the incredibly well-preserved history, Pakistan for the kindness of its locals, Venezuela for its natural beauty and Iceland because it’s the most unique island in the world (in my opinion!).
4) What was the most challenging country to visit?
There were so many challenging visa applications but the most intense country I visited was Yemen. I traveled there on an assignment as a photographer which is why I was able to receive a business visa.
Mainland Yemen is, in my opinion, the most unstable country in the world to travel to but it is still possible with the right contacts. I wouldn’t recommend going unless you have a lot of travel experience.
5) Not everyone is going to travel to every country in the world, but for those readers who are anxious about traveling or waiting to take that trip, what advice would you give them?
One of the hardest aspects of anything is the beginning. Travel isn’t ever going to be convenient, especially if you’re just starting out. My best advice would be to not wait until someone else will go on a trip with you if that’s what is holding you back.
It’s okay to take baby steps. Go on a road trip close to home first. Then go to a country like Italy or Indonesia (Bali) that has plenty of infrastructure for tourism and that is easy to navigate.
Whatever you do, ‘don’t compare your work in progress to someone else’s masterpiece’.
The most important rules I have for myself when I’m traveling solo are pretty simple.
Rule #1 is that I don’t drink or do drugs. When you’re alone as a woman it’s important to stay in control of yourself and to be aware of your environment in order to avoid being taken advantage of.
Rule #2 is not to wander around at night alone.
Of course, there can be small exceptions to these rules like going out at night with a big group of people you met at the hostel and only having a drink or two. The rules can make evenings really boring but if you’re wanting to avoid any kind of trouble, these are the rules that kept me safe through 196 countries. On the bright side, the rules encourage you to go to sleep early and wake up to make the most of every travel day you have.
7) Traveling to every country in the world takes a lot of planning, what are your go-to planning tools or apps?
Skyscanner is my go-to website to find cheap flights. They also provide a Green Travel option that shows you what flights have the lowest carbon footprint which is my favorite feature.
8) You must have had some pretty amazing adventures along your travels, tell us about a memory which sticks out in your mind.
Visiting this tiny island in the South Pacific turned out to be one of my favorite memories from traveling solo. I found Samoa to be one of the one islands in the South Pacific geared more towards adventure than romance.
The locals were incredibly hospitable, you can expect to be invited into someone’s home for faiai eleni, the tradition coconut-flavored fish. I remember waking up way too early and driving past stunning waterfalls in the lush jungle to get to To Sea Ocean Trench before any other tourists arrived.
I climbed down a slippery ladder and at first, there was a small old man collecting leaves from the pool with a net. He didn’t say anything but had the best toothless smile. The crystal clear saltwater felt soft after being filtered and tamed by the lava rock.
I spent time exploring the little caves to the sides and discovered one of them lead back to the ocean. I soaked in the silence until it was broken by the sound of rain. If it’s genuine peace and isolation you’re after, look no further than Samoa.
Great question!! Since there are so many people listening to what I have to say on Instagram now, I feel that I have an obligation to express thoughts and ideas that are actually worth sharing.
The time it takes to write a quality caption is always worth it because you never know what might resonate with people. There’s so much noise on the internet, I want to contribute something I’m proud of.
10) Now you have traveled to every country in the world, where are you planning to travel next?
I’m currently traveling in Sweden and I’m on my way to Morocco next week to give a talk at a travel conference in Marrakech!
11) Now for a fun question, tell us a fun fact about yourself?
I’m an animal lover! One of my favorite things to do when I’m traveling is to go out into nature and witness the wildlife in person. This is actually the reason why I love Africa so much, its the best area of the world to see wild animals in their natural habitat.
My favorite animals are mountain gorillas! I’ve trekked into the jungle to see them in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Each time is one of the most amazing interactions you can have as a human because we share so much of our DNA with the mountain gorillas.
Read More Ladies We Love Interviews
- Ladies We Love: Hermon & Heroda
- Ladies We Love: Becky van Dijk
- Ladies We Love: Asha Daya of Girl Talk HQ
- Ladies We Love: Vanessa Rivers
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