Lonely Planet Writer

This solo traveller is hoping to become the first woman to visit all 196 countries on earth

An American woman is nearing the end of her quest to set a Guinness World Record for becoming the first documented woman to travel to all 196 countries on earth. Cassie De Pecol has been travelling alone for the past 16 months, and has covered 188 countries so far with only eight left to go.

Cassie De Pecol is hoping to become the fastest person to travel to all 196 countries on earth. Image: Expedition 196
Cassie De Pecol is hoping to become the first documented woman to travel to all 196 countries on earth. Image: Expedition 196

The 27-year-old is from the rural town of Washington in Litchfield, Connecticut. She was working in childcare and freelance web design, but always dreamed of pursuing a career in travel and entrepreneurship.

 

She embarked on her amazing journey in July 2015, is filming her adventures for a documentary, and acting as an ambassador for the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism. She is also collecting water samples from around the world for Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation.

Cassie De Pecol is hoping to become the fastest person to travel to all 196 countries on earth. Image: Expedition 196
Cassie De Pecol is hoping to become the first documented woman to travel to all 196 countries on earth. Image: Expedition 196

When asked about her favourite places to visit, Cassie has a comprehensive list. “Switzerland is my favourite for mountains, Bhutan for peace and Vanuatu for kindness,” she tells Lonely Planet.

“I love Tunisia for history, Peru for rain forests, Turkey for culture, New Zealand for landscapes and Mexico for food. Jordan is probably the gateway to my favourite region in the world – the Middle East.

Cassie De Pecol is hoping to become the fastest person to travel to all 196 countries on earth. Image: Expedition 196
Cassie De Pecol is hoping to become the first documented woman to travel to all 196 countries on earth. Image: Expedition 196

Cassie’s advice to anyone with a dream to travel is not to let anyone deter you from pursuing it. She says that you need to have an immense amount of motivation, dedicate yourself to your vision and do everything in your power to make it happen. “Utilise Google, as it’s been the best resource for me to learn how to write a business plan, obtain sponsors and plan my route,” she says.

Cassie De Pecol is hoping to become the fastest person to travel to all 196 countries on earth. Image: Expedition 196
Cassie De Pecol is hoping to become the first documented woman to travel to all 196 countries on earth. Image: Expedition 196

“Utilise social media, listen to podcasts and network with as many influential people as possible. Act now, have that sense of urgency, don’t wait. Tell yourself every day either in the mirror, or every night before you fall asleep, where you envision yourself being a year from now. Above all, always believe that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how difficult it gets.”

Cassie De Pecol is hoping to become the fastest person to travel to all 196 countries on earth. Image: Expedition 196
Cassie De Pecol is hoping to become the first documented woman to travel to all 196 countries on earth. Image: Expedition 196

Cassie spends an average of two to five days in each country, and films her experiences for her YouTube channel, while documenting her experiences on Facebook, Twitter and her website. While she has travelled all over the world and has loved the experience, she ultimately plans to return to live in the US.

“They say home is where the heart is, and the more I travel, the more that’s becoming more real to me,” she says. “Home is where family, my safety net and everything that I’m familiar with is, and my country is rich in nature, which is important to me.”