Meet the first woman to visit every country on earth

Harriet Marsden@harriet1marsden
Friday 11 November 2016 10:00
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Picture:(Composite / Facebook (Cassandra De Pecol))

This woman is just a few steps away from becoming the first woman to visit all 196 countries in the world.

Fifteen countries in 40 days, to be exact.

Cassandra De Pecol is coming to the final frontier of her journey, Expedition196, having visited 181 countries, starting with the Pacific island of Palau in July last year.

The 27-year-old has to tick off the final few in just under six weeks in order to break the Guinness World Record for fastest person to travel to all Sovereign States plus an additional 11 countries (phew).

She writes on the blog of her expedition website:

As a young woman, I’d always dreamed to travel to as many countries as possible and make our world a better place. It bothered me though, that I could never figure out how to ignite this inner fire and make it happen.

After years of travelling, living abroad, transforming herself into a a sustainability consultant, achieving her Master's degree, and even being filmed in a jungle in Panama for Discovery Channel, the young entrepeneur bought a large map of the world and began to plan her trip.

Now, almost two months and 18 countries in, my priorities have shifted for the better. I want nothing more than to give myself to the lives of others and our world.

The initial goal of traveling to every single country is not nearly as meaningful as was at the start. Looking into the eyes of the youth and hearing them realize their potential and limitless possibilities through listening to me speak — this is what I live for.

Although the trip has cost an estimated $200,000 dollars so far, it has been almost entirely funded by sponsors. It's also carefully designed to fit into the parameters of sustainable, eco-friendly tourism.

De Pecol, from Connecticut, is also travelling as an Ambassador for Peace and Global Citizen via the International Institute for Peace through Tourism.

While it may sound like a dream job, De Pecol acknowledges the realities on her Instagram page:

I'm sure that many of you can relate to the feelings that I have; the nightmares and the sadness when it comes to seeing and experiencing certain things that are very challenging to comprehend. That being war, famine, harassment, unfairness, brutality, etc.

To be honest, I'm trying desperately to focus on the good, but sometimes I find that I have to just let the mental challenge of it all run its course. 

There's always more than meets the eye, and aside from the positive and happy times that I share with you on a daily basis, I look forward to also sharing the more somber of times, hoping that we can cultivate positive change as a result.

Nevertheless, De Pecol also explores the potential and excitement in the sheer scale of the journey she is making.

According to bestselling author Chris Guillebeau's blog, 'The Art of non-Conformity', De Pecol said:

For me, it’s not about the journey, it’s about the destination and doing something big, impactful. And for me that’s breaking a record, winning a race or doing way better than I did before, or proving people wrong about something or myself.

For me, I think if there wasn’t such a stigma to impress others, there wouldn’t be as much of a push to impress myself — as f***ed up as that sounds. Easier said than done, but you can do anything you want to do.

Sometimes I think of that guy Ranulph Fiennes, he’s like 78 and to this day continues to break records; travel records, endurance, etc. I wonder if that’s all that keeps him going in life. Once he made that first attempt that was so amazing, how could he go back to living a mundane life?

So he made it a life goal to keep going with the records and expeditions, and maybe that’s how he keeps going.

Pushing your own limits in some impactful way and forget everyone else. Just keep carving into something for as long as you can hold out for.

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