Cassandra De Pecol, an American woman who was born and raised in a rural town in Connecticut, just became the first female to travel to every single country in the world and she did it in a mere 18 months. Beginning in July of 2015, Cassie embarked on a project she called “Expedition 196,” and completed her goal of visiting all 196 sovereign nations in the world at the end of February 2017.
Her year and a half endeavor was no easy feat and took tons of planning, as the 27-year-old spent a whole year and a half just scheduling, securing endorsements, saving money, and coordinating the filming of the documentary she planned to make throughout her travels. Her record is still being confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records, though she’s sure to secure this new record.
“I choose to live my life in a unique way. To live an iconic, low key lifestyle where I do what I want, when I want, and inspire those along the way,” said Cassie.
As an environmentalist, activist, and athlete, Cassie is no stranger to challenges and an insatiable curiosity for studying human culture and diverse regions. She first traveled overseas during her freshman year of college after studying Global Studies and living in local communities in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. After bouncing around between colleges and saving $2,000, she decided to travel with her brother to see the world and experience different cultures. She stretched the $2,000 for two years by couch surfing and picking up odd jobs at eco B&B’s, which is when she was really bitten by the travel bug.
After returning to the U.S. to experience a “normal life” by taking a 9-5 job in Washington, D.C., Cassie knew she had to make a change. That’s when she developed the “Expedition 196” project. She made elaborate travel plans that included her itinerary, funding, and filming schedule.
Starting in Palau, Cassie set out to not only break two world records (first female and fastest female around the world) but she also wanted to raise awareness for peace through tourism and sustainability. She firmly believes that those who travel, meet people of different cultures, and make an effort to understand the customs and beliefs of others will have a more open heart, be more compassionate, and generate peace in the process.
Cassie traveled through the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism and had dozens of sponsors who covered the costs of the trip, which came out to be more than $200,000. She traveled with few supplies, choosing to practice sustainability through simple living and instead focusing on using her camera to document her travels and her map to guide her.
At just 27 years old, Cassie has experienced more than any human, especially a woman, likely will in their entire lifetime. This trek was a privilege, to say the least, but the intent behind it was absolutely worthwhile. This was truly an amazing feat, and hopefully Cassie’s accomplishments will encourage others to follow their dreams as well, however impossible they may seem.
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