Nevada City woman out to set record for youngest person to travel to every country on the planet
December 28, 2017
Friday night, Lexie Alford is set to board a plane to Bali, Indonesia, where she plans to begin a three-month journey touring 29 Asian countries. When she returns home, she will have visited a total of 125 countries throughout her life — about 65 percent of her goal.
The 19-year-old Nevada City woman hopes to set a world record as the youngest person to step foot in every country on the planet.
Alford took her first trip abroad at age three, when she visited Ireland with her parents. The family of three visited about 50 countries together during Alford's childhood and made memories together all around the world.
Alford recalls some of her favorite times traveling with her family: trekking with gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda; learning to drive a stick-shift car in Namibia on her 13th birthday.
Her parents, she said, helped infect her with the "travel bug." Her mom owns a travel agency in Grass Valley, and both parents are long-time world travelers.
But now, Alford has visited more countries than her parents have.
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Alford has funded her travels by working odd jobs, she said. She takes on shifts at her mom's travel agency, babysits, gardens and paints houses, among other gigs.
In September, she returned from a two-month trip in Europe, where she crossed each country on that continent off her list. Ever since, she's been hard at work, raising money and planning for her upcoming adventure.
According to GuinessWorldRecords.com, a 24-year-old man from the United Kingdom holds the current record.
The record-keeping company — famous for its annually-updated "Guiness Book of World Records" — recognizes 196 countries in the world, which include all 193 United Nations member states plus Palestine, Taiwan and Vatican City.
James Asquith set the record in August 2013 when he arrived in Federated States of Micronesia, the final country on his tour.
According to Alford, Guiness has a tough set of standards for anyone hoping to compete with Asquith.
In order to prove her travels, the company requires that she ask two strangers in each country to fill out witness forms, which must include their names and contact information.
Guiness has also asked Alford to provide copies of her old passports — she now has five — and photos from the trips she took when she was younger, before she decided to go after the record.
Alford is seizing an opportunity, she said, that many women have never had.
"This is the first time in history that women can be scientists, astronauts, politicians … I wanted to be a part of that," she said.
Alford hopes to make her mark on history by accomplishing the ambitious goal.
When she's finished, she plans to write a book and make a movie about her travels in hopes of inspiring other women to lead adventurous lives.
Soon after she returns from her trip in Asia, Alford will turn 20. It might be her busiest year yet. She hopes to set the record before she turns 21.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4231.
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