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 profile picture

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

79 thoughts on “What is Lost With Purpose?

    Z says:

    Hello .I see your describing about my country iran, it was nice and complete.
    Thank you for introducing my lovely country.

    Georgios says:

    Hello, have you considered making a profile on nomadmania.com ? I’d love to see your map, thanks.

    Al Cave says:

    Hi Alex
    We met at Altit fort and again in a coffee shop in Karimababd. It was a pleasure meeting you and thanks for all the info you’ve provided that helped me with my 6 week trip .
    I am back home in the UK with memories to share and reflect upon. I hope this email finds you well and with the energy and enthusiasm to propel you onto the Middle eastern sojourn you mentioned .
    All the best and thanks .

    Hey Al! It’s good to know you’re back home and your trip went well 🙂 Yes, I’m prepping for my own grand sojourn at this very moment. Perhaps we’ll meet on the road again one day!

    tariq says:

    I’ve been reading your blog since yesterday, and it’s very fantastic and inspiring me to start my own travel blog.
    I’ve been travelling in more than 20 countries since 2005, and I’ve written about my experiences which had been published in magazines , it is late but I’m thinking about start a blog like you. Thank you

    amer says:

    I wish you success and that you find Purpose
    I am from Kuwait and adventurous but on my car and now I am going to cycle around. I am close to filling out my passport. Greetings

    Shan says:

    I just find your channel it’s amazing keep it up!

    TaishanRen says:

    Greeting from a Chinese American living in Connecticut,
    I was searching to find out more about Shaymak, Tajikistan, and came across your post. Well, great contents and very beautiful writing. it’s so satisfactory reading your story.
    Keep enjoying your life and keep sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *