Max Carter, a 2-year-old from Frisco, is about to be the youngest American to visit every continent. Crazier still, Max’s bags were packed and ready to go before his first words were spoken.
His mother, Lesley Carter, began planning trips while she was pregnant. She told The Dallas Express that her goal was to travel around the U.S. with him and make him the youngest child to travel to every state before he turned 2 months old.
After making all of the arrangements, Lesley was close to giving birth when COVID-19 suddenly shut the world down and canceled her plans. Max was born on April 13, 2020.
But Lesley didn’t let this stop them for long.
“When he was first born, we really didn’t travel as much as I was used to because we couldn’t really leave the country,” she explained. “So, I decided to look into other possibilities for Max and I. Maybe set a world record.”
Today, an 8-year-old holds the record for the youngest North American to travel to all seven continents. But after a cruise scheduled for February, Lesley plans for Max to break that record before he turns 3 years old.
She also encourages other parents to follow suit.
“I feel like it’s so important to not see kids as a burden, like you can’t travel now because you have children, but an opportunity for you to grow just as much as they are during the process,” said Lesley.
Max’s first trip out of the country was to Mexico for his first birthday.
Max and Lesley continued their adventure by going to Asia, where they visited Dubai, and Europe, where they visited Ireland.
From Ireland, they flew to Africa and visited Ghana and Rwanda.
The toddler has also been to Fiji, striking Oceania/Australia off the list.
This leaves one continent left: Antarctica. As Lesley explained, this one was no small feat to figure out.
“Antarctica is very hard to get to,” Carter said. “I started to do research about that and I found a cruise line that goes to Antarctica that allows kids, so once I found that I knew the whole world was possible.”
As you could imagine, traveling with a toddler isn’t always easy. Lesley tells The Dallas Express that sometimes you just have to accept it for what it is.
One of her biggest obstacles is getting Max accustomed to a time change.
“Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that at some point you’re going to be that mother with the screaming child,” she said.
Max will be headed out on his final trip before becoming America’s youngest world traveler in February, when he and his mother will take a cruise that sails down the coast from Argentina to Antarctica.
On March 1, Max will officially be the youngest from North America to visit all seven continents. So far, he’s been to 15 countries, all before the age of 3.
Over the last 10 years, Lesley has documented her travels on Bucket List Publications, a website created for those interested in following the Carters along on their adventures. On the website, you can also find travel ideas for your own bucket list.
Lesley imparted a piece of advice for all parents itching to travel: “A lot of parents say they want to wait until their kids can remember, but the most important thing to me is you can do those things now. Your child doesn’t have to be a certain age. You have to just be in the right mindset to do it.”