A globetrotting woman hopes to break a Guinness World Record by becoming the fastest female to travel to all 196 countries.
Cassie De Pecol, 27, from Washington, Connecticut, embarked on her journey in July of 2015 and now she is nearing the end of her epic mission to visit all 193 sovereign nations plus Taiwan, Kosovo and Palestine.
So far the intrepid traveller has ticked off 180 countries and taken over 254 flights in just over 15 months. She has an estimated 45 days left to complete her whirlwind adventure.
Most recently Cassie checked into New York after ticking off Cuba.
Having a passion for adventure, the blonde traveller started to plan for the trip of a lifetime -Expedition 196 – on her 25th birthday.
Explaining her thirst for exploration, she 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.’
It’s estimated Cassie’s burned through $198,000 in a bid to break the record and a range of sponsors have helped lighten the financial burden.
Investors have also contributed to the making of the educational documentary which Cassie has filmed along the way, to promote promote sustainable travel.
She also promotes eco-friendly, luxury hotels on her Instagram, such as Six Senses, Soneva and Secret Bay, to over 12,000 followers, in exchange for accommodation.
Cassie added: ‘All sponsors and funding is obtained by me while I’m on the road, which is not an easy task.’
Acting as a Peace Ambassador for International Institute of Peace Through Tourism and Skal International, part of Cassie’s work is 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.
Touching on her work, she said: ‘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 noted.
After 15 months on the road, Cassie has experienced both highs and lows and believes that travelling 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 travelling 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.’
She revealed: ‘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.’
She concluded: ‘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.’
CASSIE’S LIST OF COUNTRIES 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
São Tomé and Príncipe