Call her a nomad. Call her an influencer. Call her a record-chaser. Whatever you want to call Cassie de Pecol, you certainly can’t call the young woman behind “Expedition 196” a homebody.
The 26-year-old native of Washington, Connecticut, set out on her 25th birthday in July 2015 on a quest to visit all 196 countries in the world. She is on target to wrap her whirlwind adventure in the next 45 days. According to various news sources this week, if she completes her mission on schedule (i.e., before her 27th birthday), she will establish a new Guinness World Record as the youngest person to visit all of the countries on Earth.
So far, in 15 months of travel, de Pecol has hit 180 countries and spent about $200,000—a budget comprised mostly of money from corporate sponsors. Because she has a ton of Instagram followers, de Pecol also has been able to trade free hotel stays for exposure on social media.
To date, she has taken 254 flights and filled up four passports’ worth of country stamps. She also has visited Taiwan, Kosovo, and Palestine. She has said she spends two to five days in each country and notes on some of her social media that she aims to “promote positive peace through sustainable tourism.”
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the existing record for fastest man around the world was set in 2014 by then-33-year-old Graham Hughes, who traveled to every country in just under four years—without flying. This means that even if she takes a few years off, de Pecol still has the record in the bag.
While we certainly endorse and appreciate travel, our motto at AFAR is to travel deeper, travel better, and to travel with purpose. Although her cause is inspiring, it’s hard to believe that de Pecol has had the opportunity to do that kind of travel on her trip. Hopefully, once she gets the record, she’ll pick two or three of her favorite spots and return for longer stays.
Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In nearly 20 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications including TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sunset, Backpacker, Entrepreneur, and more. He contributes to the Expedia Viewfinder blog and writes a monthly food column for Islands magazine. Villano also serves on the board of the Family Travel Association and blogs about family travel at Wandering Pod. Learn more about him at Whalehead.com.