This 21-year-old claims to be the youngest person to visit every country in the world

Lexie Alford is awaiting confirmation by Guinness World Records after visiting 196 countries

Lexie Alford at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi during her mission to visit every country in the world. Courtesy
Lexie Alford at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi during her mission to visit every country in the world. Courtesy

Intrepid traveller Lexie Alford looks set to claim the title of being the youngest woman to have visited every country in the world.

On May 31, 2019, the American entered a North Korean conference room at the Joint Security Area in the Demilitarized Zone – the buffer zone between the two Korean nations with public access restricted – hopefully cementing her place in travel history.

Passport stamps, airline tickets, receipts and photographs have been submitted to Guinness World Records to verify Alford's journey and she is awaiting confirmation from the entity. Two witness statements collected from every country she has been to should help validate her claim.

The record she aims to claim was first set in 2013 by then 24-year-old James Asquith. When she was 17, Alford embarked on a three-year mission to visit every country in the world before she turned 21.

“I was lying in bed one night wondering how many countries I had travelled to and counted 70,” Alford tells The National. “I decided to find out how many any other people had travelled like I had.

"On the Guinness Records website I found that the youngest person to travel to every country was a 24-year-old. That was when I decided I wanted to break this record.”

With the support of her family – Alford’s parents are travel agents in her home town in California – the then-teenager's mission began. Alford went on to visit 196 countries, mostly as a solo traveller.

Having been around the world, Alford struggles to pick her favourite destination, but reveals she "loved Indonesia, Venezuela and Pakistan so much".

The most disappointing section of her trip was travelling through the South Pacific, but only because it was so beautiful that “it was like being on a honeymoon everyday by myself". "I wish I had brought someone with me to share the incredible area," she adds.

Alford also believes "travel is the best education a person can experience". "Learning about a country from a local is something you can never be taught in a classroom."

Her advice to people exploring the world is to tread kindly and with respect. "Be kind and generous and the world will return it back to you in so many ways," she gushes.

Having successfully visited every sovereign country, Alford is now in the process of writing a book about her journey that will include safety pointers and other top tips for solo travel.

She also plans to return to several places around the world that left an impression on her, and continues to document her travels on Instagram and her blog.

Updated: June 19, 2019 03:28 PM


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