196 sovereign states. 196 countries recognised in this world, and Lexie Alford has been to them all. I am certainly not insanely jealous. I am just a little jealous, but I also feel driven, and as if maybe I could see the whole world too.
I woke up this morning with an urge to solo travel the world for the next few years. It’s the type of outlandish escapism that usually comes when I am feeling overwhelmed by a perfectly common hiccup in life.
I didn’t dismiss the idea completely, much to my credit, I think. But I did wonder about the practicalities of it all. Then I sat down to work and found out about Lexie Alford, and well, I am about to pack my bags and head off.
196 countries, at the age of 21. If Lexie can do it, anyone can do it. Though to be fair Lexie’s parents own a travel agency which does suggest a slight advantage. But one that I would utilise completely if I had it, so good on Lexie.
But others do it, too. So, what does Lexie, who includes North Korea on that impressive list, suggest we do if we want to see more, or even all of the world? In particular what are her suggestions for solo travelling because, after all, that is the most daunting aspect of such an undertaking. (We are presuming here that we have already decided how to find the funds.)
Safety, loneliness, and the ability to communicate are the biggest concerns. This is something that Lexie relates to. In a blog post in March 2019 she said, “Personally, I get freaked out the most by the hypothetical scenarios I make up in my head rather than what might realistically happen to me. I think it’s like this for most people.”
But we shouldn’t let this stop us. “Don’t let anyone tell you it’s too dangerous because all you need to navigate the world safely is common sense. Bad things can happen anywhere, at any time, so you shouldn’t let fear dictate what you do with your time.”
But what are the two watch words to follow? Common sense and planning. Both will allow you to feel secure and sensible. The best piece of common sense being; find out about the country you are going to, the clothing they wear and their social and legal norms.
An air of confidence is important, acting and looking like you know what you are doing will not only instil yourself with confidence, but also stop you looking vulnerable.
And, anyway, the places considered more dangerous are often the most fun. In an interview with Forbes, Alford said, "The countries that have such a bad reputation that people don't dare go to are the places that spark my curiosity. I experienced so much more kindness and natural beauty in places like Pakistan and Venezuela than I ever found in typical tourist destinations. Going somewhere with no expectations, and being absolutely blown away by what you find there, has been the most fulfilling part of this project."