Meet Lexie Alford, a 21-year-old American woman who has achieved quite a feat by becoming the youngest person on Earth to travel to all countries in the world. On June 2, Lexi uploaded a photo on her Instagram account with a caption that read "officially traveled to every country in the world". The photo shows Alford holding a piece of paper that has "North Korea May 31, 2019, country #196" written on it, indicating that North Korea was the last milestone on her tremendous journey and a finishing step in the world record. Her website, lexielimitless, proudly displays the number of countries she has traveled, 196, in contrast to the tab with the remaining countries where the number has finally dropped down to zero.
"It sounds crazy but more people have traveled to space than every country in the world," Alford told Bored Panda. "There's an estimate 150 or so people who've done it and less than 10 of those people have been women," she explained. And now she's one of them! The young woman explained that despite being pressured to continue studies after finishing community college when she was 18, Lexie decided to go against everyone's wishes and pursue what she saw as her own personal passion.
The adventurer has documented her numerous travels across the world not only on her blog but also captured the moments in stunning photos which she uploaded on her Instagram. At the moment, her page has 67.3k followers and around 400 posts with multiple images. Scroll down below to see photographs from many of the countries she visited and don't forget to comment and vote for your favorites.
Pripyat, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Ukraine
"The abandoned city of Pripyat in Ukraine is one of the most intense places I’ve ever stepped foot in"
Avenue Of The Baobabs, Menabe, Madagascar
"Africa chewed me up and spit me out a new, slightly traumatized person. I’m mentally exhausted and I’ve been seeing the world through completely different eyes now. It’s already been more than a month since this trip and I’m still looking for the words to describe what I experienced in these places. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Dear Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Senegal, Mauritania, Algeria, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte D’Ivoire, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Cameroon, São Tomé, Gabon, Seychelles, Mauritius, Lesotho, Swaziland, Comoros, Madagascar, Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea, Rep. of Congo, and Central African Republic- ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Thank you for giving me an unfiltered glimpse into an aspect of the world that, for the most part, goes unmentioned. I hope someday I can find the right words to tell their stories"
Alexis hails from a small town called Nevada City in California and said that she's been traveling since she can remember, as her family started a traveling agency 30 years ago. It's been a long way but Alford officially broke the Guinness World Record for the Youngest Person to Travel to Every Country by over 3 years. She says she started off by selecting regions to cross countries off her list. "I started off simple, going to all the countries in Europe, then Central and South America, South East Asia etc. then progressed into the more difficult areas to navigate like Africa and the Middle East," she elaborated.
Karimabad Hunza, Pakistan
"A glimpse into the colourful tradition and culture of Pakistan ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
One of the first things I noticed when I arrived in Islamabad was how gorgeous and stylish the women are. I really wanted wear some of their beautiful clothes while traveling here which is why I was so excited to go shopping with @anushaesays . She helped me find this shalwar kameez which is the tradition trousers and long shirt that are commonly worn in South Asia. We later found this amazing headdress in a little shop in Karimabad when the whole @cpicglobal gang played dress up for an hour ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Side note to all the Pakistani ladies: Is this called a tribal kuchi headpiece? I forgot to ask the shopkeeper & I would love to know more about it!"
"This is one of my favorite memories from traveling solo. I remember waking up way too early and driving past stunning waterfalls in the lush jungle to get to this place. I climbed down that 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. When he finished his work I dove into the crystal clear salt water. The cold was a shock the system but it felt soft like it had been filtered & tamed by the lava rock. Explored the little caves to the sides and discovered one of them lead back to the ocean. I floated and soaked in the silence until it was broken by the sound of rain
How I got this shot: I hired a taxi driver to take me to this place early in the morning to avoid crowds (typically getting there before 8 or 9 AM is best if it’s somewhere that tour buses might go). Then I befriended the taxi driver on the way and asked him if he could please take a photo for me when we got there. Thankfully he agreed and when we got to this spot, I adjusted the setting on my camera then showed the taxi driver exactly how I wanted him to line up the shot and I asked him to take a few before I ran down & jumped in the water. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
This is how I get most of the photos where I’m the subject. Whether it’s a stranger or one of my friends taking the photo there’s always a chance that it’s not going to turn out the way you envisioned but it’s always worth a shot"
According to Lexie, her travels are completely self-funded and she's never had a full sponsorship except for a few brand deals and campaigns along the way. She mentions how she always knew she'd take time off to travel so she started saving up money at the age of 12, picking up any job she could get her hands on. "The amount I saved kept me going for the first year-and-a-half of my travels," Alexis explains. The rest of her trips were covered by money she earned by working as a travel consultant in her family’s agency as well as a photographer/blogger.
Port Louis, Mauritius
"Visiting Mauritius was a dream of mine for so long that I was worried maybe the real place wouldn’t match the story in my head. Not sure if I just got really lucky in this country but it was as if I was in a movie where everything has this surreal cinematic quality. Also couldn’t believe how warm & full of life the ocean was just right off the beach! Feeling nostalgic"
"I do a lot of research in advance to find the best deals, utilize points and miles for my flights, stay in cheap accommodation like hostels or create content for hotels in exchange for accommodation," she elaborates on the process. To save up as much money as possible, Alford mentions that she tries to keep her monthly overhead as low as possible by living at home with her parents. "I don’t have a car payment or student debt, and I don’t spend my money on unnecessary material possessions," she adds.
Angel Falls, Venezuela
As for her biggest challenges, Alford contributes those to her travels to West and Central Africa because the numerous countries in the regions required visas. "There's also not a lot of practical info about traveling to those places on the Internet so figuring it all out on my own through social networking was very challenging," she explains.
"The kind of place that begins with “Once upon a time...”
"5 in-person trips to the embassy in Los Angeles, 2 formal interviews, 3 different tour companies/fixers, 2 LOIs, countless phone calls and 6 months later I finally made it to PAKISTAN
The media always exaggerates and blows out of proportion but so far I can’t get enough of this incredible country! Every day has brought not only new tastes & sights but also a renewed sense of appreciation for the kindness of people in faraway places. Even this truck driver’s nice way of telling me to move out of the way was to just start driving forward slowly"
Now that she's broken the world record, Lexie plans to take some time off to recharge. "After finally completing this massive life goal, I’ll be taking the next few months to nourish my physical and mental health as I finish writing my book about this adventure and continue to make plans for the future," Alford concludes.
"Officially traveled to every country in the world
It’s crazy to have years of hard work culminate into one single moment. I’m so grateful to everyone that’s helped me get here. The greatest chapter of my life is coming to a close. Cheers to a new beginning"
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
"Looking back on old photos, I’m realizing my favorites aren’t the ones of beautiful places. It’s the photos of friends and family & the memories we captured that have the most meaning. Traveling with someone creates this bond that you continue to share no matter how much time passes. Feeling extra grateful for my friends this week soooo here’s a montage of some people I really love :’) ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Take this as a friendly reminder to snap tons of photos and videos of the people in your life, you’ll be so happy you did!"
"Crocodile cage diving so much more intense than I anticipated!"
"Offbeat places, friendly faces
This trip... the grit of it, the awesome conversations, the depth of experiences and sense of real exploration are what I'm always trying to find my way back to."
Darvaza Gas Crater, "Gates Of Hell", Turkmenistan
"Roasting marshmallows over the DOOR TO HELL
Last week I was camping in the middle of nowhere with @fearlessandfar & a bunch of drunk Russian speaking men. Being fed way too much food from the kindest locals and running around this pit of fire was definitely one of the most epic & memorable nights of my life. No one really knows how Darvaza Crater was created but it’s been burning for over 40 years. Its such a fitting addition to this otherwise mysterious landscape. Have you ever seen anything like this before??"
"SO grateful for these amazing trips around the sun, for a life brimming with abundance, and the wonder of having a healthy human body that gives me a chance to climb up mountains & learn something new every single day."
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Colombo, Sri Lanka
I honestly did a terrible job planning my trip in Sri Lanka. I usually try to get away from cities and tourist traps to get a more authentic feel for the country I’m visiting. Choosing the path less traveled can occasionally/inevitably lead to unexpected complications, wasted time and frustration. Sometimes we miss once in a lifetime opportunities. Sometimes our experiences don’t live up to the expectations we created in our minds. And that’s to be expected! Being able to accept that things didn’t go the way you wanted them to and making the best of it anyway is a really important life lesson traveling has taught me. This photo reminds me that even mistakes can result in something beautiful & unexpected"
Morondava, Fianarantsoa, Madagascar
"Afghanistan is one of the most unique places I’ve traveled to because it felt almost taboo to be there. So much negative hype has been built up around it that not many people get to experience this place which is a real shame. Honestly it is very unstable here and I don’t recommend going to Afghanistan casually. I got really lucky with my experience but I also put in the work researching where to go and how to do it safely. That being said, wow. Just wow. The food, architecture, smells, colors. Gorgeous people with dark hair and bright blue eyes. Sensory overload. I didn’t feel unsafe walking down the street although the traffic will give you anxiety. I visited a few colorful 1000+ yr old mosques and saw hundreds of people praying together. Everywhere we went there seemed to be someone genuinely happy to share their culture with us. Although Afghanistan was challenging to understand at times, being there made me feel so much connected to its people, their cultural history, their strength and struggle. It made me thankful for everything that I have and reminded me not to take it for granted. Afghanistan made me grow."
Canaima, Sucre, Venezuela
"Over the past few years I’ve developed an affinity for offbeat places. And its been rewarding me nearly every step of the way. Places like Venezuela have been written off by the average traveler as somewhere that’s too dangerous to travel. That’s a logical conclusion to reach given what we see on the news but it’s an underestimation of the genuine kindness within real Venezuelan people. I’ll always remember this trip as one of my all time favorites."
"I’m in one of those rare times in life where everything seems to be working out perfectly and I couldn’t be more grateful. Sorry that I have joy BURSTING from my fingertips right now but I just got on a flight to a country I’ve never been to before and I’m so freaking excited!"
Gilgit-Baltistan "Land Of Mountains", Pakistan
"This was one of the top 5 craziest adventures of my life! After riding like maniacs on the top of our 15 passenger van through the Karakoram Mountains for countless hours we arrived at the launching point. We switched into these 4x4 rock crawling land rovers and ascended up the aptly named “most dangerous road in the world”. The local driver swerved recklessly around loose gravel corners with heart pounding 500+ ft. drops to the left. After nearly 3 hours of that, we arrived at the starting point for the hike to Fairy Meadows. Our group quickly fell into different paces which gave us time to feel even more secluded in the deep wilderness of Northern Pakistan. We hiked up roughly 2500 ft. as the sun set on the little Swiss cabins we would sleep in that night. The temperature dropped rapidly. All our bodies were acting funny because of the altitude. The 10 of us huddled around the common room stove sharing stories and stretching our deliciously sore muscles. ‘Twas a day & night that I’ll never forget"
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
"Travel therapy should be covered by health insurance
Seriously though. It’s unbelievable what traveling has done for my mental health. I was a pretty depressed & angsty kid when I was in high school because I felt like I didn’t belong there. I felt like I didn’t have anything in common with the people around me. All my frustration and unhappiness is what ended up fueling me to save up as much as I could and start backpacking. That’s when everything changed for me. As soon as I got out of my hometown bubble and realized there’s so much more out there for me. Discovering that there’s so many beautiful places and awesome people scattered all around the world made my outlook on life change completely.
Even if you can’t afford to travel right now, you can always change your perspective in smaller ways. Do whatever you can to get active outside in the fresh air, whether it be hiking or photography or whatever calls to you. Take a road trip to somewhere you’ve never been, even if it’s only an hour away from your house. Small trips like that are how you can gain momentum but be careful, once you get going it’s really hard to stop!"
Parque Nacional De Los Volcanes, Rwanda
Ninh Bình, Phu Khanh, Vietnam
"Throwback to this serene temple we stumbled upon in the misty mountains of Vietnam. Places like this make me feel small in all the best ways. Just one of the many reasons to fall in love with Asia"
Merzouga - Sahara Desert, Morocco
Port Louis, Mauritius
Seoul, South Korea
Gold Souk, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
"In light of the tragedy at the Notre Dame today I wanted to share the story of La Mothe-Chandeniers castle. This beautiful, one of a kind castle was destroyed by fire and many other disasters over the centuries that it’s stood here in the French countryside. It was abandoned and almost torn down by developers after being completely overgrown. Then, something incredible happened that’s never been done before.
Thousands of people from over 100 countries rallied together online through crowdfunding to buy the Chateau de la Mothe-Chandeniers, raising more than a million dollars to save it from being lost forever. Time inevitably takes a toll on these parts of our history but what was built before can always be built again with more resilience than ever before"
Aït Ben Hadou, Ouarzazate, Morocco
Step Pyramid Of Saqqara, Egypt
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
Tananarive, Antananarivo, Madagascar
Jsa / Dmz South Korea / North Korea
New Orleans, Louisiana
"What does your perfect travel day look like?
For me, it starts by waking up somewhere I’ve never been before. I’ll wander down the streets seeking out the perfect cup of coffee. Then I’ll hopefully find myself adventuring near the ocean, a waterfall or in the mountains with friends. Seemingly endless backroads will have us driving fast, windows down, our heads sticking out singing at the top of our lungs. We’ll snap photos and try strange & amazing foods while learning about another beautiful corner of the world, ideally from the perspective of a local. Finally ending the day with an epic sunset & a happily ever after... that’s basically what happened on this day"
"Imagine not knowing exactly how old you are. If it was raining when you were born, your birthday is in February or if it was hot outside, it must have been August. Taking into consideration that when you live in such a rural area, these concepts are foreign and don’t really matter much in your world. These kids were wandering around an abandoned mosque in the middle of the day on a Tuesday. They didn’t have cellphones but they knew how to chase each other, play and entertain themselves without technology. What a different way of life that would be "
South Korea/North Korea Border
Joshua Tree National Park, California
The Karakoram, Pakistan
"You guys. Pakistan is next level. 5 stars. One of my new favorite places in the world. I think this is going to have to be an annual adventure. As you can see, we’re having way too much fun! So... Who wants to move into a yurt underneath this waterfall next summer?"
"Guinea Bissau was the last country out of 54 countries in Africa I visited for the record
West & Central Africa is, in my opinion, by far the hardest areas of the world to travel in. The visas were tricky, there’s very little infrastructure for tourism, the language barrier makes matters even more complicated and believe it or not, this is also the most expensive area in the world to travel. There’s not many flights, hotels or guides so the operators have the market completely cornered. They can pretty much set whatever outrageous price they want because there isn’t very many options (besides maybe grueling & potentially dangerous bus rides). West Africa especially is the kind of place where even the most popular “destinations” are obscure (if you know, you know). But hey, I can genuinely say that traveling in this area of the world thickened my skin more than literally anything in my life ever has. And I’m grateful for it. Not sure when the next time life will pull me back to West & Central Africa, but when it does, I’ll be ready"
"Inspiration strikes me when I have a thought that is immediately followed by ‘ha, there’s absolutely no way I could do that’. That’s where the spark of possibility is born. A curiosity about my own potential. I was talking to a few of my friends last night and they said they couldn’t think of anything they could go out and do right now that would really scare & excite them at the same time. That got me thinking- maybe they just hadn’t taken enough time to look into what challenges them physically, creatively, etc?"
"I’ve been coming to a really important realization: your interpretation of a country has nothing to do with the country itself. Its your mindset that defines whether or not you enjoy the time you spend in a place.
Since September I’ve been reflecting on the experiences I’ve had in Africa. To be honest, spending almost 3 months last summer in 20+ countries throughout West & Central Africa was really rough on my mental health. The language barriers, intense cultural differences, constant movements... it can be really depressing and lonely at times. I had never thought about giving up & going home until I started seriously traveling in this area of the world. But that’s when I was reminded of the quote, “I didn’t come this far to only come this far”
I’m so happy that after this last fantastic trip to 5 countries throughout Africa I had a total shift in perspective! The places I traveled to were somewhat similar to where I was before but this time something was different. I’m starting to slow down. My mind is more open and prepared to absorb everything, even the frustrating bits, with patience & gratitude. It’s crazy that I’ve traveled to 189 countries now and somehow I still feel like I’m just beginning to understand the ways of the world. There’s so much left to learn!!"