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25-6-2019 13:21:16

The youngest person to travel to every country says reaching the milestone at age 21 came down to ‘a few simple life lessons’

Lexie Alford, 21, recently became the youngest person to visit every country in the world. Although her feat is still being verified by the Guinness Book of World Records, Alford claims she’s been to all 196 countries. Alford told INSIDER the three most important life lessons she’s learned while travelling. She also revealed how she funded her adventures and stayed safe while travelling solo. Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories. When you turn 21, it’s normal to start reflecting on what you want to achieve in your life, your goals, and your bucket list items. Lexie Alford, however, decided she’d get cracking on her goals at a much younger age. The 21-year-old has recently become the youngest person to visit every country in the world.Foto: Alford completing her feat in North Korea.sourceLexie Alford Although still in the process of having all her documents approved by the Guinness Book of World Records in order to make her accomplishment official, Alford claims she’s ticked off all 196 countries. This puts her three years ahead of the current official record holder, 24-year-old Taylor Demonbreun. Alford told INSIDER that achieving her impressive feat has come down to learning “a few simple life lessons.” ‘Never take no for an answer’ Alford told INSIDER the three most important lessons which helped her break the record are: “Never take no for an answer, have the courage to pursue what you’re most passionate about, and problem-solve like it’s nobody’s business because where there’s a will, there’s a way.” “There were so many obstacles to overcome while traveling to every country and I learned the most from the true moments of struggle,” she said.Foto: Alford in Venezuela.sourceLexie Alford While her adventures may have looked glamorous and exciting on her Instagram account, Alford certainly encountered her fair share of obstacles: “Having visas denied, running out of money, having health problems like malaria and food poisoning, becoming exhausted and wanting to go home after three months on the road, just to name a few,” she said. “When it came to visas or impossible itineraries or people simply telling me that I wasn’t able to do something, never giving up and not taking no for an answer got me through so many tough situations.”Read more: People around the world are booking luxury hotel suites for ‘daycations’ for a fraction of the price of an overnight stay Alford said she had to get around 30 visas in advance, and it was especially difficult for the West and Central African countries where tourism infrastructures are less developed. “Surprisingly enough, it’s also the least visited countries in the world that are the most expensive to visit because they don’t have many transportation and accommodation options thus the operators can charge anything they want,” she said. “I now believe that every problem has a solution if you work hard enough. There are also a lot of sacrifices you have to make if you want to travel the world but if it’s something you’re truly passionate about, it only takes courage to pursue it.” ‘Hard work, consistent saving, smart spending’Foto: Alford in Austria.sourceLexie Alford For most people, the barrier to seeing the world is, well, lack of money, but Alford managed to fund her travels entirely on her own. “I started working multiple jobs and saving everything I’ve earned since I was 12 years old,” Alford said. “I’ve worked in everything from commercial painting to freelance photography and blogging to managing at my mom’s travel agency. I’m fortunate to be able to structure my work schedule in a way that accommodates my travels because my bosses are flexible and I also work for myself.” Through a combination of working while she travels and saving everything for her adventures, Alford has managed to fund her way around the world. She’s simply prioritized.Read more: An Instagram travel couple is being criticized for asking their followers to fundraise $11,000 so they can go on vacation “I rarely buy non-essential material possessions,” she said. “I don’t spend money on fancy clothes or shoes – I still wear clothes I’ve had since high school. I’m also fortunate enough to still live at home so my monthly expenses are very low.” Alford admits that her mother owning a travel agency has allowed her to find offers. “I always look for the best deals and book ahead of time,” she said. “As I mentioned, my amazing mom has a travel agency she’s owned for over 30 years. So I’m able to grab awesome savings on flights and hotels because my mom has worked in the travel industry for so long.” Growing up in a family that loved to travel also meant Alford had already visited about 70 countries by the age of 18. Staying safe when travelling solo Alford travelled on her own, and as a young woman, she had to take safety precautions. Alongside budget and personal interest, sometimes safety would play a part in how long Alford would spend in a country, which ranged from three days to three weeks. “I’ve spent over a month in Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Indonesia, Switzerland, and more because I have so much I personally have always wanted to do in those countries and there are ways do make those trips more reasonable financially,” Alford said. “Then there are some countries like Mali, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Somalia which I would have loved to spend more than a few days exploring but unfortunately I didn’t have the budget to take the proper security precautions necessary to travel throughout those countries safely.”Foto: Alford in Afghanistan.sourceLexie Alford Travelling solo also meant Alford sometimes felt “intense loneliness,” but she still recommends people go on adventures by themselves. “I spent over seven months traveling alone through 50 or so countries which was a very enriching yet isolating experience,” she said. “I eventually learned how to be alone without being lonely and I think that solo travel is something that every person should experience at least once in their lives.” Having visited every single country in the world, Alford has had the pleasure of meeting a number of different people and learning a lot about different cultures. “The countries that have the least [of everything] are usually the places that have the kindest people,” she said. “Countries like Pakistan, for example, that don’t have a developed tourism industry are incredibly friendly because the locals haven’t been jaded by over-tourism and are still genuinely excited to share their culture with foreigners.”The post The youngest person to travel to every country says reaching the milestone at age 21 came down to ‘a few simple life lessons’ appeared first on Business Insider Nederland.
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