What is Lost With Purpose?


If you’re reading this, you’ve probably just come across Lost With Purpose for the first time. Well, hold on to your seat: your life is about to change forever.

… no, I kid. You can let go of your seat now.

What is Lost With Purpose? - Hitchhiking in Xinjiang, China

Hitching a ride with a truck driver in Xinjiang, China.

Here’s what’s really up

I’m Alex Reynolds (short for Alexandra), an American girl backpacking hither and thither around the planet. No need for fanfare, I’m just an ordinary twenty-something-year-old who sold everything, left a “real person” job, and decided to travel the world for a while.

My life fits into two backpacks, I am perpetually getting lost, and I dream of one day filling an entire passport. Update: I filled one, it was stressful to replace. New dream: SPACE TRAVEL.

How do I travel and where am I going?

The adventure began when I flew away from the haze of Amsterdam, Netherlands to frosty Tbilisi, Georgia in February 2016.

Ever since, I’ve traveled primarily over land using buses, taxis, trains, rickshaws, boats, horses, and rides from people I meet along the way. And then some. I try to avoid flying as much as possible because, y’know, climate change is kind of a thing.

Dying/laughing with our hitchhiking companions in Kazbegi, Georgia

A dangerously toxic hitchhike in Kazbegi, Georgia.

I travel to places often overlooked by Western tourists in favor of other destinations. Weeks of my life have passed without spotting Whiteus Peopleus, I’ve set foot in countries my government urges me to avoid, and I’ve spent many an hour miming things because it’s my only form of communication.

Though I’ve bopped around on several continents over the last few years, I seem to end up in Asia repeatedly, though I hope to add some more regions to my repertoire sooner rather than later. Not that my intentions really matter; my plans always fail, so I go wherever the wind takes me and there are good people (and good food) to be had.

What is Lost With Purpose - Alex in Balkh, Afghanistan

Looking out over Old Balkh, Afghanistan

So what exactly is my purpose?

Funnily enough, I chose the name “Lost With Purpose” because I’m spacey as hell and always get lost. I might as well enjoy it, right? Hence, my purpose: to enjoy being lost.

… but these days, people ask assuming I have some greater purpose in mind. Admittedly, I often let them continue to think the blog name has deeper meaning than “herp derp where am I?”

Though I may float sans purpose, this blog doesn’t. Its original mission was to provide future travelers with useful information. When researching my trip, I struggled to find all of the dirty details I wanted about the places I meant to visit.

“Top 10 Instagrammable Spots in X” lists are all well and good (just kidding, I think they’re wretched), but I’m more interested in things like what women should expect when traveling in Iran, or how to road trip around Saudi Arabia.

I do my best to cover what I find useful, and I’m always down to help others interested in following my footsteps. If you have questions, just ask! But please, for the love of god, don’t ask me to plan a whole itinerary for you.

Alex lighting oil lamps at the Mela Chiraghan in Lahore, Pakistan

Looking for enlightenment at the Mela Chiraghan in Lahore, Pakistan. Kidding—I just like fire.

As I wandered along my merry way, other aims took form. The more I saw, the more I learned… and realized we all still have a lot to learn.

Over the years, I’ve seen what feels like all of the ups and downs of tourism—and iNfLuEnCeR cultue—in the world. Hordes of travelers swarming to get The Instagram Shot as communities crumble under the strain. Privileged Westerners (like me) casually rolling in to exploit local people’s kindness like neo colonists v.2.0. The danger of promoting travels/ego without thinking about how people might interpret them. (Shout out to every inexperienced traveler who messaged me thinking Afghanistan was a good idea for their next holiday. Please don’t get kidnapped.)

Before, I thought I was just helping travelers out and doing folks a favor by promoting countries that didn’t see much international tourism. Now, I realize that my words have the power to do harm. We tourists have the power to destroy.

Luckily, we can also do the opposite.

These days, I’m trying to do better, and encourage others to do the same. I’m still a reckless traveler who thrives on impulse, needs to think before speaking, and eats copious amounts of carbs to save money… but I also spend boatloads of time time learning from People Who Know Things, and educating travelers on how to travel more responsibly, recognize privilege, and make better decisions on the road. And freaking out over cringe stuff I wrote in the past—what was I thinking?!

I’m still far from perfect, as haters like to remind me on a daily basis. We all are. But that shouldn’t stop us from doing what we can to ensure our holidays or travels don’t destroy the places we so love.

I'm foreign so I must be rich

The most common question: how do I afford to travel?

I’m no trust fund baby (if only), and I don’t receive financial help from anyone (feel free to sponsor me, O Peoples With Monies). I fund my independent travels purely through money I saved or earned on my own… though I’d totally take on a sugar daddy as long as they’re down to only see me once a year.

Before my departure in 2016, I saved up enough money to travel for a little over a year… and the money stretched much further than I thought it would.

These days, I’m doing the “digital nomad” hustle: I make some money from the blog, and freelance along the way so I can TRAVEL 4EVER & EVER extend my voyage indefinitely. Here’s exactly how I do it, though full disclaimer, I’m not exactly rolling in the ca$hmonies.

What is Lost With Purpose - Alex running through the mountains of Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh, India

Prancing and dancing in Mechuka, an impossibly beautiful village in Arunachal Pradesh, India

My money stretches far because, well, it has to if I want to live on the road full-time! (Also, having foreign currency helps.)

Grubby hostels and hotels call to me. I’m not above eating bread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Walking an extra mile to find a bus instead of taking a taxi is chill with me… except when it’s literally 45°C outside. I don’t buy souvenirs–sorry family and friends–and I’ve passed on a tourist sight (or twelve) when tickets were too costly for my budget.

What is Lost With Purpose - Hitchhiking in Ladakh

Hitchhiking along one of the highest paved roads in the world

The key: I stick to places where I can exist without going totally bankrupt. You probably won’t find me wandering in Western Europe any time soon, unless I’ve come back to visit family and friends… or get trapped by a global pandemic. Other regions are more cost effective. With better food.

Who the heck is this dude in half of your posts?

Ah, an interesting question!

At the start of my journey, I traveled with Sebastiaan, a gangly Dutchman/my boyfriend at the time. We traveled and ran the blog together for almost two years, but then broke up while traveling at the end of 2017. Oops!

Never fear, there’s no bitter feels—we’re still friends and he still helps out with the blog from time to time. I’m far too lazy not petty enough to go through and edit him out of all of the posts and pages he wrote, so you’ll just have to deal with the occasional plural pronoun and shot of his face.

Or you can pretend I transform into a European man under the full moon. That’s cool, too.

What is Lost With Purpose - Alex in the Himalayas at the Royal Highlander Festival

Frolicking in the Himalayas during the 2017 Royal Highlander Festival in Bhutan

Time to explore some more

But that’s enough rambling for now. This is a blog, after all–why not check out some of my  favorite posts?

My favorite travel stories

My favorite photo essays

I know you want to know

What is Lost With Purpose? - Alex swinging on a tree in Hatiya, Bangladesh - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Being very professional *ahem* on the island of Hatiya in Bangladesh

Work with me?

I’m not above a little sweat and toil while on the road! I’ve gotta do what we can to keep the travel train running as long as possible. Feel free to inquire about working with me, collaborating with me, and/or sponsoring me.

Stalk me

If you’re too cool to read through the blog (lazy you), you can also stalk me on my other social media accounts. I’m down with that–it’s the 21st century, after all. Please don’t actually stalk me in real life, that’s not cool.

Patreon | Facebook | InstagramPinterest | Twitter

Alex Reynolds

American by birth, British by passport, Filipina by appearance. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

More about Alex

63 thoughts on “What is Lost With Purpose?

    DevGill says:

    Alex oh Alex you indeed r living your dream girl. Kudos to you and having glimpses of you in the last 10 years did show me adventurous side of you. I just hope Aman will tether to your adventure and living free………Envious I am not and love you for pursuing your passion. Regards to Sebastian I have yet to meet.

    Hi Dev! I think Aman has enough of a bad influence from you to encourage a crazy lifestyle… I expect great things 😉

    Hope all is well with you, it’s been too long! Cheers from China! – A

    Magdalena says:

    Happy to have found your blog! I am looking forward to reading more of your adventures!

    Glad to have you along for the ride!

    Rama Jamal Ramadhan says:

    You are my inspiration!! Looking forward to the other extremities 😀

    That’s very nice to hear. Glad to have you along for the ride!

    GirlAstray says:

    It´s a little bit off topic, but how did you cross to India – did you go overland via the Pakistan – India border? Was there any problem? (Planning to do it, heard it can get difficult…) Thank you! 🙂

    No, we had to fly from Afghanistan to India. As long as you have the Pakistan visa already, crossing the border shouldn’t be a problem. Just be aware of the time differences, and make sure you get there early enough to waste time on bureaucratic BS 😉

    Our friend The Broke Backpacker put together an article on this border crossing that might be helpful: http://www.thebrokebackpacker.com/wagah-border-crossing/

    Tem says:

    Really enjoyed your guys’ Kazakhstan posts. I was born in Almaty and never really went to travel around KZ, now I’m thinking I should plan something out!

    You really should. You live in a beautiful country!. Cheers.

    I really like your writing! It’s rare to find a travel blog that doesn’t mind being different and actually has something to say. -Ivan

    Thanks a lot. That’s a great compliment to get. Cheers!

    Jim Finnie says:

    I commented on your Afghan blog/guide yesterday and only today have I gotten around to reading (some) of the rest of your stuff. Inspirational. ILove the quirkiness of your writing! ‘m a little older than you I suspect (know!) and now I’m too old to climb big mountains (I was never that good at it anyway), I’ve started exploring, mostly in Africa but, if plans work out, Afghanistan sometime soon (i do know when but I’m not publicizing it – see, I learn quickly!) Keep travelling – never stop! Looking forward to your book. There will have to be a book right? 🙂

    Hiya, and thanks for commenting (again). Truth be told, we suck at climbing mountains too. Yet we try (and fail), because the views are so nice. We’d love to go to Africa one day, but our wallets aren’t big enough at the moment. It’s almost time to start replenishing them. Have fun in Afghanistan (smart move on not publicizing your exact dates). Do let us know if you need any help or are looking for reliable contacts in the country. As for the book, hopefully we can find a ghostwriter 😉 Cheers!

    Nitin Rauthan says:

    Hey Guys !! You are amazing and Very inspirational — you two will have a long and happy life together.

    Are you planning another trip?
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Sebastiaan says:

    Thanks a lot! We’re actually still on a trip 😉

    Anushree says:

    Loved this page and hooked on to your blog and your journey. Never come across someone who does not have western European countries in their travel plans Lol! Also, am from India and thoroughly enjoyed reading about your Indian adventures. Good luck.

    Sebastiaan says:

    That’s great to hear, thanks a lot. Haha, Europe is too costly for us 😉 And yeah we had a great time in India, and will be back soon. Where in India are you from?

    himadri ganguly says:

    i’m himadri from india , in saudiarabia for a decade now 50 years young and an avid shooter from india
    in july i’m leaving for india please guide me for the gear, nikon full frame and sony rx1





    Lokesh says:

    Hi Alex,

    It’s really inspiring! You are literally living what I dreamt of. Thanks for the inspiration. I have to say that ” Your photos are awesome, whoever clicked them, great photographer”.

    Alex says:

    Thanks Lokesh. I take all my photos, except when I instruct others on how to take the shots of me 😉

    Yasir Siddiqui says:

    I’m inspired by your posts and I’m a schools student
    I seen your saving posts ho to save money and I will try asap
    Post was too old now its 7 August 2018 ????
    I will try to read all posts ????????

    Shawn says:

    I am also a twenty something who has the travel bug. I have been to 106 countries…. none of which are in Central Asia. I am looking at people’s experiences getting Pakistani visas which is how I ended up on your blog. How did you get your Pakistani visa/how long did it take? Also if you want to go “off the tourist path” then I recommend visiting West and Central Africa. I know for a fact Central Africa Republic (was there in July) had about 210 tourists last year and that Equatorial Guinea (Americans are visa free) had less than a hundred. Most West African countries are safe for solo women travelers and get almost no tourists as well (Liberia for example gets a bad rap but is not bad. You will feel worshiped there as an American). My main recommendation for Africa is do couchsurfing/stay with locals. Everything other accommodation is either expensive or miserable. If you want to be off the tourist route in South America go Paraguay. Enjoy!

    Bulbul Sarwar says:

    Very useful and nice write up….
    Please stay in touch. Me too a writer.

    ali says:

    nothing else but its coooooooool nd fantastic

    Talal jamil says:

    Hi, I am Talal jamil from Lahore,Pakistan. I am just curious to know that who takes all your photos, these photos are really really good.

    Usman Akram says:

    Hi my name is Usman Akram from Pakistan
    I love your Blogs Photos Stories Or everything
    You are most talented girl I have never seen it
    So love you so much lost with purpose
    Please make a more excellent travel tips or videos
    Thank you so much
    Love from Pakistan ????????❤

    Riley says:

    Hi, my name is Riley. I am from Pennsylvania and am doing a research paper partly about your website. I wanted to make sure it was alright. It is just a school paper about travel, writing, and the progression of communication.


    Hi ALEX


    I love your Blogs Photos Stories Or everything
    ” Your photos are awesome,
    I have never seen it
    Please make a more excellent travel tips or videos
    Please stay in touch. Me too a writer.

    Syed F Akbar says:

    You are exceedingly pretty, you wield the pen like a ninja and you have balls girl.

    Mathilda says:

    It’s been two years that I’ve been completely obsessed (sounds scary), fascinated and hypnotized by your blog. I just wanted to congratulate you on your artistic work and your absolutely hilarious posts, that made you become my #1 travel inspiration. Namascar !

    Will be attempting a 1,700km thru-hike of the Great Himalaya Trail during May-June-July if you are interested, even though we don’t know each other at all!

    + By the way, weird question : What’s you zodiac ? (HA-ha-ha..)


    Kdo doufa says:

    Hey 🙂 ,

    Thanks so much for being brave to quit your job, travel, admit you can be a bit introverted (a GD thing in my opinion – what would the world be like if everyone kept babbling all the time and didn’t ponder quietly sometimes to plan the next good step?), write an honest blog, take beautiful pictures that show how beautiful the world and its’ people are (something that it seems pretty much all other media does a crap job of…helping scare most people into accepting they should live in a way they aren’t happy with…and helping increase the number of antidepressants prescribed).

    I wish you so, so well on your travels.

    Pls keep doing what you feel you’d like to do ; you do great things 🙂 , and the world needs more happy people imo.

    I hope I can find such strength and bravery as you did/do.

    Warmest & best wishes,

    & Thanks for your inspiration! 🙂

    Ahmed Raza Umer says:

    One of the best blogs I have come across in real life!

    VIPUL KUMAR says:

    When I see someone has been to Orchha – that’s it, traveller spotted, who diverges from the main track and wanders around (like me).
    Well, the thing is Orchha (despite it’s grandeur and stories) is unknown to almost everyone I have talked to (Indians), which was quite unbelievable for me at first, but now I’m used to “I have never heard about this place” reaction whenever I tell anyone about where I want to go.

    So, It has been two days and I’m still wandering through your posts, It’s like a treasure I have been looking for unknowingly.

    The posts about Manipur (my next stop) are best detailed ones I’ve come across internet yet.

    I’ll suggest some more less popular, lesser known places if you ever plan to visit India again.

    Harime khan says:

    Hey Alex, a lot of good words are up here already. I am just going to go ahead and add more. Your blog is very genuine. This is the first thing I appreciate about you. There are no dupattas flowing and no filmi posing for the camera. This is happening more often than expected on other famous bloggers who have chosen to cover similar regions as yours. That’s how it should be on a vlog: cut to the point and not worried about trimmings. You are real and raw. Kudos. On top of all of this, your latest video on the critique of Pakistan’s tourism and its focus is entirely justified. I myself have travelled extensively enough in many areas from Baluchistan to Sost and I have genuinely found many, many untethered ends. #PakistanIsNotEasy. That is what should be trending.

    Prasenjit Tarafdar says:

    really nice to see your travel journey, i love it and surely like to see more .. i am from india but staying at abu dhabi – uae , let me know if you have plan to come this part of world.. bye for now

    zubair says:

    could you please helpful for being us a solo traveler ?

    Anshika Agarwal says:

    You are blessed my lady ! All the best with everything you go for and STAY SAFE!
    me and my husband run a instablog travel_gourmet_world on insta.

    We are planning UZBEK trip next month and loved reading your experience.


    Bikash Borodloi says:

    Just Grate

    aditya says:

    I am feeling great that you are living your life. Many times I thought the same to travel the world. But something stops me to travel the world. I hope one day I would also travel.

    Dhiraj says:

    Great work!! Couldn’t read your entire work/blog but would eventually do so.

    Gerry with a G says:

    Sarcastic AF which brings life to all your stories, thanks.

    David P says:

    You are an inspiration! Wishing you happy travels! I will commence my explorations in less than one year, moved by the same spirit.

    Nishant says:

    Alex the great Alexander !!

    Satyanarayana Raju says:

    I too want to lost in this world,
    But did not had money and passport.
    Can you help me by allowing me to help you rest of my life as an assistant.

    April says:

    Hello Alex! It was a nice write-up and I would like to ask if it’s possible to tour/travel Turkestan and Aksu Zhabagly Park in one day? All the best in your future travels!



    Zafar Mahmood says:

    I am going to post your page on my LinkedIn, seems really good information, and thanks for clearing up doubts to travel to Pakistan. Wonderful I am travelling this month.

    Rasba Khan says:

    Truly, that Pakistan moreover is the foremost wonderful Nation. Great Site and exceptionally accommodating data, you shared with us. Thank you so much,

    chandrachur Chatterjee says:

    If I make a plan for hindukush…what are the itineraries to be done…i am an Indian citizen and national…what are the other connected places apart from hindukush I may travel in the same trip..

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