Lexie Alford entered North Korea on Friday and achieved a "lifelong dream": visiting all 196 countries. And at just 21, she is slated to break the current Guinness World Record for youngest person to accomplish it; the current record-holder was 24 when he achieved the same feat. "I've been working through extreme anxiety for the past six-plus months overcoming the obstacles that go along with getting into some of the least accessible places in the world," the California native tells Fox News. "Not many times in life does everything that you've worked towards for years culminate into a single moment." She says she's self-funded all her travel by "working every job I could find and saving since I was 12," though she has made a few brand deals and the like to help raise money. "I do a lot of research in advance to find the best deals, utilize points and miles for my flights, stay in cheap accommodations," she tells Forbes.
She also lives at home, whenever she's actually there, and makes money working at her family's travel agency—the same agency that is the reason she's been traveling since childhood. "My parents would take me out of school and place me on independent study for weeks and months at a time every year," she says. Initially, she just wanted to see as much of the world as she could, but in 2016 she started seriously working on breaking the record. "It wasn't until things started getting really challenging that I realized I was inspiring people around me, especially young women," she says. She was 18 at the time, and had graduated high school early and gotten her associate's degree from a local college when she started working on her travel goals full-time; she says the least amount of time she spent in any one place was two or three days. She's now working on submitting almost 10,000 pieces of evidence to Guinness so her record can be confirmed. After that: a book, public speaking engagements, co-hosting a travel show, and yes, more travel. (This woman accomplished a similar feat.)