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First Foot Forward

Discover The Journeys of These Fearless Females Through Their Epic World Travel. 

Melissa Roy during her travels
Melissa Roy during her travels

Travel is multi-dimensional. Some of us take on a journey to escape from the routine, while others just want to push their boundaries, make dreams come true, and see travel as a learning experience. Some who travel discover a journey bigger than themselves. It is uplifting to learn how these globetrotting “she-roes,” or female heroes, from all walks of life inspire us as women of our time to be bold and brave and pioneer our own journeys, making a mark in the world.

TrooRa highlights the women who have gone far and wide with their dreams to travel the world and made it to the finish line; from the youngest person at 21, the fastest person to circle the globe at 24, the first of South Asian origin at 34, the first Black person at 35, to the first Filipino one at 77. 

Alexis Rose Alford

“We live on such a big, beautiful planet, and I’m looking forward to finding more fun and creative ways to involve my audience and inspire them to get out of their comfort zone and see the world.” – 21-year-old Alexis Alford 

In 2017, Alexis Alford set off to make a mark in history by becoming the youngest person at 21 to travel to every country. And she made it in 2019. She mentioned in Forbes that she was initially just an intrepid traveler who wanted to see the world. The thought of stepping foot in every country on the globe was not her intention. However, as she realized her journey around the world was inspiring many people, especially younger women, she decided to push further and became a historical female hero who made a mark in the Guinness World Records.

Alford was looking for answers to how people find happiness and lead their lives around the world. She finds it intriguing that those who don’t prioritize material possessions are the happiest. In turn, she discusses useful tips and unique advice on how to reconnect by disconnecting on her Instagram. She also appeared on TEDx for her lessons learned traveling the world.

Her childhood dream became a reality as she stepped foot in her last country, Mozambique. Alford with her Guinness World Record.
Her childhood dream became a reality as she stepped foot in her last country, Mozambique. Alford with her Guinness World Record. The photo was taken from Alford’s Instagram.

Taylor Demonbreun

“Young women can, and should, see as much of the world as they can. I believe that travel is vitally important to shaping one’s worldview, so it is important for everyone to get out and learn more about the world that they live in. To have played even a small part in encouraging someone to travel and see something new makes me so incredibly proud to have worked toward and set this record.” – 24-year-old Taylor Demonbreun

Demonbreun and her family in New York to receive her Guinness World Record. She ended her epic world travel journey in Canada.
Demonbreun and her family in New York to receive her Guinness World Record. She ended her epic journey of traveling the world in Canada. The photo was taken from Demonbreun’s Instagram.

Who would have thought that just out of college with a diploma in her hand and a belief in her dreams, 24-year-old Taylor Demonbreun from Florida would become the Fastest Female to Travel the World and the record holder for the fastest person to go around the globe?

The Guinness World Records named her the fastest time to visit all sovereign nations (overall and female) with a time of 1 year 189 days. Her amazing achievement celebrated the launch of the Guinness World Records Day 2019. It is a day that promotes the Spirit of Adventure and encourages people to push themselves to attempt a record on Thursday, November 14, 2019. She embarked after graduation in June 2017 and inspired women to travel solo.

Acknowledging that humans are different from one another in race, religion, and way of life, she discovered in her own experiences that humans all want the simple things in life—safety, basic values, and freedom. It is how we choose to live our life meaningfully. 

Travel indeed broke Taylor free from struggles like social anxiety. Conversing and communicating with strangers of foreign languages led her to be bold and brave in facing the world. Taylor speaks a lot about her solo travels in her blog and inspires us to make our dreams come true with her journey. 

Melissa Roy

“I have an insatiable curiosity for the unknown and building meaningful connections. What we need is an open heart and a desire to connect with others, to understand them. A little bit of empathy goes a long way.” – 34-year-old Melissa Roy

While many fear the unknown, not knowing what to expect of the future, Melissa Roy takes the opposite direction. She finds the unknown to be a place to tap into her potential. Believing in herself and financing her travels without sponsorship deals or free trips pushed Melissa Roy to become the first woman of South Asian origin to travel to all 193 sovereign nations in the world in 2019. She chooses to circumnavigate the world with local hosts instead of hotel stays. 

Melissa’s journey is unique, considering she didn’t have the opportunity to travel as a child like most travel explorers. Michigan-born, she saw travel as an escape from the economic struggles of her childhood as a first-generation Asian minority in America. Nevertheless, she proved that anything is possible and believed in her roots, and chose Bangladesh as her last country and homeland to visit as a sentimental moment for her late father, whom she last saw at the tender age of 6.

She told Urban Asian in an interview that she hopes to inspire others and build more meaningful connections. She keeps in touch with over 200 friends that she met while traveling the globe.  

Melissa Roy during one of her world travel journeys
She did it. Roy in one of her travels. The photo was taken from her Instagram.

Jessica Nabongo

“Everyone wants women to be afraid to go into the world alone. I am not. I’ve learned that most people are good. I move with positive energy, and that is a magnet for all these wonderful, amazing humans that are brought into my life.” – 35-year-old Jessica Nabongo

World traveler Jessica Nabongo
Her book “The Catch Me if You Can: One Woman’s Journey to Every Country in the World” is now a best-selling travel book. The photo was taken from Nabongo’s Instagram.

Jessica Nabongo, a Ugandan-American, felt a call to the world. She believes humanity still exists and forges deep connections with people and places. At 35 years old, she became the first recorded Black woman to visit every UN-recognized country. Her epic travels have taken her to 195 countries and 10 territories, of which 89 countries were solo travels. Her journey traveling the world was largely self-funded, and she doesn’t do free trips either.

I’m inspired by her wisdom in saying, “I hope that what people get from my journey is that the world is all of ours, it belongs to all of us, and we can go, we can play, we can meet, and we can see every place in the world that we want to see,” in The 247

She’s also a public speaker, writer, entrepreneur, and founder of The Catch, her lifestyle brand. 

Her latest achievement is a book published by National Geographic that documents her travels called The Catch Me if You Can: One Woman’s Journey to Every Country in the World, which is now a best-selling book worldwide. Get inspired by her journey on her website.

Odette Aquitania Ricasa

“Ricasa is living proof that there can be no limit to one’s dreams as long as one has the perseverance to pursue them.” – Inquirer

When it comes to travel, Odette Aquitania Ricasa shows us that age is just a number. The 77-year-old Filipino made rare history by becoming the first senior citizen and first Filipino to step foot in all countries and continents. Driven by her dreams, she encourages people to pursue their passion.

From humble beginnings in Manila to outstanding achievements as a US immigrant, Inquirer has named Ricasa the modern renaissance woman. She is a world traveler, an established artist, a pianist, a motivational speaker, and a mother who raised three children. After financial difficulties in her younger days, she navigated toward her dreams of traveling the world. She began traveling at 40 years old and continued year after year until the age of 77, completing the globe by foot, train, and bus and staying with strangers with families.

World Traveler Ricasa in her last country in Iraq. The picture was taken at Lalish Temple in Duhok, Iraq.
World Traveler Ricasa in her last country in Iraq. The picture was taken at Lalish Temple in Duhok, Iraq. The picture was taken from her Instagram.

Ricasa is said to be a travel icon in a prestigious community; the Travelers’ Century Club only allows access to members who have traveled to more than 100 countries. She has written more than 6 books and displayed her paintings of more than 120 at the Ricasa Art Gallery in San Clemente, Southern California, and some other places around the world. She also gives back to the community through charity. For more of her travel journeys, you can visit her blog.


TROORA MAGAZINE | APRIL 2023
WRITTEN BY NIZIE N. LOKMAN, FCIM
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ALEXIS ROSE ALFORD | TAYLOR DEMONBREUN | MELISSA ROY | JESSICA NABONGO | ODETTE AQUITANIA RICASA | VIKTORIA ALIPATOVA

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