Ever since her schooldays, Cassie De Pecol, 27, from Washington, wanted to travel the world. She always wanted to learn about different cultures, religion and natural habitats, so she quit her unfulfilling job and took to the roads.
The organisation for her trip began when she turned 25 years old, when the former office worker started to make her plans. She wanted to learn more about people outside her home country, and find out more about where her ancestors came from.
Curiosity made her wonder what things were really like outside the states. What was the Amazon really like? Was the Middle East as the news informed her?
“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.”
“All sponsors and funding is obtained by me while I’m on the road, which is not an easy task.”
Cassie admits that travelling forced her to step outside her comfort zone and also taught her to be more comfortable in situations she had never thought of before.
Cassie budgeted $198,000, of which $10,000 came from babysitting, and set off to explore a total of 196 countries, thus making her a world record holder.
By the end of 2016, Cassie had already ticked off 180 countries and taken over 254 flights in just over 15 months, with an estimated 45 days left to complete her whirlwind adventure.
Cassie admits that she did have sponsors who helped fund her trip, and also investors who contributed to a documentary she made along the way.
Eco friendly hotels are also noted on her social media platform, which has upwards of 295,000 followers. Along the way, Cassie worked with a conservation company collecting water samples to test for micro plastics. Often she will meet with members of ministries and university students.
“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.
Cassie admitted that sometimes it was difficult travelling alone as a woman. Occasionally people would try to take advantage of her because of this, but she learned not to tolerate inequality and how to defend herself against unwanted advances.
“On average, I spend two to five days in each country,” she said.
“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.”
“I’ve been harassed and in sticky situations, whereas a man in the same situation likely wouldn’t have experienced the same,” she revealed.
“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.”
Cassie likes to describe herself as a world traveller and explorer. She also considers herself to be an environmental activist, women’s rights activist, educator and entrepreneur.
The only country Cassie has not been to is Antarctica, which she is already making plans to visit.
Although Cassie is not the first woman to complete a travel venue of every country, she admits that when she finally has visited them all, the feeling will be one of overwhelming awe at the accomplishment.
“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.”