At the age of 21, Lexie Alford has already visited all 196 countries in the world. That makes her the new Guinness World Record holder for youngest person to travel to every country, by three years. (There are 195 states widely recognized as countries, plus Taiwan.)

With a family that ran a travel agency, Alford traveled widely as a child—by the age of 18 she’d already hit 72 countries. That’s when she decided to sprint for the world record, self-funding her trips via work as a travel consultant and some sporadic sponsorships. She documents her experiences on her blog and is now working on a book.

Alford, who lives in Nevada City, Calif., logs from 200,000 to 250,000 miles in the air each year, though she frequently takes trains and buses as well. Her favorite airline is Delta, because of its partnership with American Express Platinum, a lucrative points-earning program. “They also have the most reliable airport lounges in the world, just as far as the Wi-Fi and the food,” she says.

Here are Alford’s tips from a lifetime of globe-trotting.

You can—and should—hold two passports from the same country, simultaneously.

Having two passports is essential if you’re traveling to some of the lesser-known places, or where visas take a long time to obtain: the Middle East or West Africa, for example. It’s for when you have conflicting travel plans that are related to obtaining a visa. If you go to the passport office and map out how it’s impossible for you to follow through on your travel plans—especially if they’re related to business—with just one passport, they’ll issue another one. Say you’re going to Russia and need to send it to the embassy; that will take six weeks. But perhaps you’re going to Indonesia next week. You just need to show written evidence of your conflicting flights, with your name on the reservation. And remember: You can book refundable tickets as proof of travel, show them at the passport office, and then cancel them later. Then you’ll have one handy for any future travel traffic jams.

If you’re traveling to a new county, there’s one email you should always send before you leave.

Email your hotel before you arrive and ask what the average price is for a taxi from the airport to the hotel. Sending this simple email has saved me hundreds of dollars over the years, because I’ve avoided being taken advantage of by taxi drivers with inflated prices or fixed meters. Taxi drivers can be merciless as far as screwing you over, so you need to be very sure on exactly how much it’s going to cost and how long it’s going to take to go from A to B. If you get to the hotel and the meter is unbelievably high, refuse to pay for it. Go inside the hotel and ask for help. And if that doesn’t work, tell them to call the police. If you say that, the driver will give up. I’ve done that in Angola a few times, and in Samoa. And I just did that in Guinea-Bissau.

Your carry-on allowance is probably more generous than you think.

I only travel with a carry-on. Some of the airlines might be more strict, though, and will weigh it. I remember being in Zakynthos, Greece, and there was a very grumpy check-in lady who weighed both my carry-on and my backpack. I’m always way overweight because I have my laptop, my camera, and my drone. It was 5 kilos (11 pounds) over. So I just put on as many of my clothes as possible. Then I went to a souvenir shop across the way and bought a cheap duffle bag and put stuff in there, too. You’re able to bring the equivalent of a shopping bag along with your carry-on. So now I carry a collapsible, lightweight duffle bag from Baggallini for the worst-case scenario. Just be very discreet when you walk up to the counter, and don’t offer to let them look at your luggage.

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