Not only is this 27-year-old from Connecticut going to be the youngest person to travel to every country in the world — she’s also going to be the first woman to conquer the feat.
“As a young woman myself, I like to think that I can set the standard for young women worldwide to pursue a quest or dream that is out of the norm, or that everyone tells them they shouldn’t do,” said Cassandra DePecol, of Washington.
DePecol is well on her way to breaking the Guinness World Record for the youngest person to travel to every country in the world. With just Sudan and a handful of other countries in Africa and the Middle East to go, she told InsideEdition.com she hopes to achieve the dream she had at a young age by early next year.
“Since high school, I had this feeling that I’d like to do something major in life,” Cassandra DePecol told InsideEdition.com
When she was 18, DePecol said she took an opportunity to study abroad and eventually ventured off to 24 different countries on $2,000 she saved up from a summer job as a lifeguard.
Years later, she found herself itching to see more of the world and take on a new project between babysitting and her job in web development and marketing.
“I wasn’t happy with where my life was headed, working odd jobs and not following my passion,” she said.
A month before her 26th birthday, she decided to make the leap of faith, and set off on Expedition 196 – a journey that would take her to 193 sovereign countries, plus Taiwan, Kosovo and Palestine.
“One of my first moments that was a real eye-opener was when I was in Vanuatu,” she said, recalling a villager taking her into his home with his family just a year after a devastating cyclone hit their area. “He didn’t expect anything in return other than to just show me his home, and how they made Kava, a popular drink made naturally throughout the Oceanic region. I felt safe and trusting [of] these people, and from this moment on, I realized the power of good in humanity.”
Although DePecol said she has never felt unsafe as a woman travelling on her own, she does advise other women to take proper measures in keeping themselves safe. Among them are acting confident, carrying a small tracking device and learning self-defense, just in case.
To put the project in motion, DePecol said saved about $10,000 to get her through her first leg of the trip in Europe.
She then reached out to sponsors and investors to fund the rest of the flights and hotels for her trip.
But, her travels are not limited to just tourism.
Part of DePecol’s role abroad is speaking with university students about sustainable tourism, as a Peace Ambassador for the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism and Skal International.
With the help of her sponsors, she is also putting together an educational documentary recounting her travels.