New Guinness World Record holder Lexie Alford is the youngest person to have traveled to every country in the world.
Alford visited all 196 countries at the age of 21, beating out previous record-holder Taylor Demonbreun, who accomplished the feat at the age of 24 years old.
“I had traveled to around 70 countries by the time I turned 18,” Alford told Yahoo Finance. “All of that was with my family growing up because my mom started a travel agency.”
Alford started working at her mom’s travel agency when she was 15. According to an interview she did with Forbes, Alford was in and out of independent study throughout high school. She earned her high school degree two years early and got an associate’s degree from a local college before deciding to pursue breaking the record full-time.
Working at the travel agency while living at home allowed her to save up money and also offered travel perks. She utilized credit card points and airline miles and blogged on the road for brands for extra income.
In addition to meticulous planning with coordinating visas, a temporary roadblock Alford faced was getting into North Korea, where U.S. citizens are currently banned.
“I found a loophole,” Alford explained. “You can enter the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, and they have a joint security area that’s shared between South and North Korea. And that’s as close as I could get to literally just stepping a foot in North Korea.”
In terms of travel must-haves, Alford said she’s a minimalist when it comes to what she carries with her. For a journey this long and hectic, she kept a carry-on backpack with her at all times.
In order to officially be named a record holder, Alford had to submit nearly 10,000 individual pieces of evidence to Guinness World Records in chronological order. She did a TED talk in June 2019 about what she learned and hopes to eventually come out with a book too.
Her blog, Lexie Limitless, features photos and stories from her whirlwind adventure.
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