A young woman hopes to become the fastest female to travel to all 196 countries – and she’s just 27 years old.
Cassie De Pecol is nearing the end of her epic mission to visit all 193 sovereign nations plus Taiwan, Kosovo, and Palestine.
The intrepid traveler from Washington, Connecticut, USA, only began her journey in July 2015.
On her 25th birthday Cassie started to plan for the trip of a lifetime, ‘Expedition 196’.
So far she has ticked off 180 countries, taken over 254 flights and has roughly 26 flights left to go.
The young adventurer’s trip has cost $198,000 (£240,000), and she now has 45 days left to visit the final 16 destinations on her list.
Acting as a Peace Ambassador for the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism and Skal International, part of Cassie’s work involves meeting with university tourism students to discuss responsible tourism and economics.
In addition, Cassie is working with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation to collect water samples to test for the presence of micro plastics.
Cassie said: “Since school, I’ve had this desire to visit every country in the world, intrigued to learn more about every culture, natural habitat, and religion.
“In America, we are lucky to have such a vast melting pot of cultures and people from all over the world who make the country what it is today.
“I wanted to learn about where these people came from, more specifically, where I came from, with my ancestors originating from Europe.
“I wondered what existed outside of North America and what it was like.
“Is the Middle East really like how they say it is on the news? What about the Amazon?
“Going to every country was for me a personal quest to learn as much as I could about our world, stepping outside my comfort zone and becoming comfortable in the unknown, while also aiming to leave a legacy behind.”
After 15 months on the road, Cassie has had both highs and lows and believes that traveling as a solo woman has shaped some of her experiences.
She said: “On average, I spend two to five days in each country.
“It’s been amazing meeting with the students and dignitaries, also traveling to off-the-beaten path locations on my own, places that no one else I know has experienced. I also love long bus rides.
“Lows are flying, being in airports, and not being in a safe enough environment to go for a run.
“I’ve been harassed and in sticky situations, whereas a man in the same situation likely wouldn’t have experienced the same.
“Some like to be believe that they can take advantage of me because I’m a woman, thinking I’m more gullible to cough up more money or talk to them more because they want me to, but I don’t tolerate any inequality anymore.
“If I feel that I’m being harassed or taken advantage of, I say how I feel, then I’m out.”
The incredible trip was made possible through sponsors such as AIG, Artisan Bags, Dogeared, Eagle Creek, Clif Bar, Travisa, SPOT Globastar, Westcomb and Eagle Creek, and investors, who have also contributed to the making of the educational documentary which Cassie has filmed along the way.
She also promotes sustainable, luxury hotels on her Instagram, such as Six Senses, Soneva and Secret Bay, to more than 12,000 followers, in exchange for accommodation.
Cassie added: “All sponsors and funding are obtained by me while I’m on the road, which is not an easy task.
“If I’m not meeting with the Ministry, giving keynote sessions to university students, collecting samples, obtaining visas, or doing promotion, I travel around the country on my own, but not for long.
“I try to spend the most time in countries where I’m able to promote my Mission to make a difference.
She added: “Though I haven’t yet become the first documented woman to travel to every country in the world, I imagine that the feeling of accomplishment and awe will be overwhelming.
“I just hope that I’m able to inspire young women (and men!) around the world to go after goals and feats that so far, people think can only be done by man.”
Places visited so far:
Papua New Guinea
United Arab Emirates
Bosnia and Herzegovina
United Kingdom (London)
Trinidad & Tobago
St. Vincent & The Grenadines
Antigua & Barbuda
St. Kitts and Nevis
Federated States of Micronesia
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
Sao Tom and Principe