Home » 10 questions with the first documented woman to travel to every country

10 questions with the first documented woman to travel to every country

written by Bex Shapiro August 15, 2017
Petra Jordan

Are you forever researching new destinations? Always adding gorgeous travel Pins to your Pinterest board? Is ‘wanderlust’ pretty much your middle name?

Well, we have good news and we have bad news. In early 2017, Cassie De Pecol became the first woman on record to travel to all 196 sovereign nations (oh, and the fastest too). Born in Connecticut, the 27 year old visited 196 countries in 18 months and 10 days.

So, why is this both good and bad? Well, she’s (Guinness World Record-certified) proof that it is possible to visit every country! But she’s also proof that once you travel, you never want to stop.

Antarctica

Cassie in Antarctica

Cassie found time to catch up with us recently while in Hong Kong (even as she keeps busy writing her book, starting a non-profit, finishing up her educational documentary, and promoting sustainable tourism). And when the jet-setter is back home in the United States, she’s based in New York, Los Angeles AND Connecticut. Yep, she really is the definition of #travelgoals…

She’s also the perfect person to ask about solo travel. After all, who better to give advice on the topic than the first and youngest American to travel by herself to every country on earth? Probably no-one. So, we asked her where to go for the best nature, the kindest locals, the tastiest food and more.

Here’s what she said:

The best destination for: value travel

Cassie: Either Moldova or Cambodia are great choices.

Angkor Wat, CambodiaI found that Moldova is very affordable pretty much everywhere, while in Cambodia, it’s a bit more challenging since they have the “local” and “tourist” prices throughout the country. So, while it is a pretty budget-friendly place, it helps to veer off the beaten path and know a bit of the language to not get taken advantage of with the tourist prices.

Visit Moldova: This adventurous 13-day Expedition trip visits Moldova, Ukraine and Romania! (If you want to know what it’s like visiting Moldova on an Intrepid trip, check out this firsthand account.)
Visit Cambodia: Whether you have 6 days or 1 month free, we have a Cambodia trip itinerary for you

 

The best destination for: hiking & nature

Cassie: The Balkans (Albanian Alps) are an underestimated destination for hiking and the outdoors.

Lakes in Albanian Alps

Mountain lakes in the Albanian Alps

I’m a big nature person and am pretty hard to please when it comes to mountains and natural ecology. The bigger, the more exotic and off the beaten path, the better for me, and I was never so intrigued by natural beauty as I was when I traveled to the Albanian Alps. From rafting to skiing to hiking to bird watching, really they have it all.

VISIT THE BALKANS ON THIS 15-DAY ADVENTURE FROM BUDAPEST TO DUBROVNIK

 

The best destination for: beautiful beaches

Cassie: Another quite unknown yet pristine beach spot is anywhere in Dominica. We all have our own opinions when it comes to beaches; some of us prefer rocky, some of us prefer red or black sand, some of us like palm trees for some shade, while others just want pristine beaches. Well, I love them all, and I must say that Dominica is a country high up on my list for best beaches and relaxing.

It’s tough for me to relax, and if you’re like me and need some adventure, some of the most beautiful rainforests and cloud forests exist in Dominica as well. So when you’re done being wined and dined or relaxing at a beautiful sustainable, luxury resort such as Secret Bay (one of my all time favorites), head to the caves for some sea kayaking exploration or the mountains for some strenuous but rewarding jungle hikes!

Dominica beach

The best destination for: cool cities

Cassie: To be honest, I’m not much of a city person, but one city I really did enjoy was Dubai. If you want a taste of the Middle East without sacrificing your modern comforts and also want to experience the best of shopping, culture, history, etc., I’d highly recommend Dubai. Nothing beats a desert city!

FANCY A LOCAL-LED DAY TOUR IN DUBAI? CHECK OUT OUR SISTER COMPANY, URBAN ADVENTURES

 

The best destination for: authentic eats

Cassie: This is a tough one. Of course, I have my favorite type of cuisine, but that obviously varies from person to person. While Mexican, Ukranian or Italian would be my top choices, you really have to go to America for a taste of them all.

Malibu California

Cassie in Malibu, California

Whenever I came back home for a break on this Expedition and wanted to cook up some gallo pinto or punjab to impress my friends and family about an exotic cuisine that I tried, they already knew about it because they’d been to “that restaurant!” in NY, LA or elsewhere to try it.

And of course it’s made from directly from the hands of a once local (to that country) who, as the story goes, “their parents or grandparents migrated over and the recipe has been passed down from generations from their country”. America is a melting pot of cultures which cultivates into a melting pot of cuisines. Pakistani, Indonesian, raw vegan, you name it, you can find it in The States!

SUBSCRIBE TO INTREPID’S NEWSLETTER FOR TRAVEL INSPO, COMPETITIONS, GIVEAWAYS & MORE

 

The best destination for: diverse landscapes

Cassie: Bhutan is a challenge for anyone to enter, and for good reason. Because the visa is so expensive, it naturally limits the amount of tourists or travelers who are there at any given time. For this reason, it is one of the most peaceful and environmentally sound places in the world.

One minute, you’ll be amidst the cloud forest, and the next, perched atop the vast mountains looking down into the abyss of evergreen forest and jungle (mix!) from a profound monastery of complete silence.

Tiger's Nest Monastery in Bhutan

Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan

Read more about Bhutan: 6 reasons why Bhutan might be the world’s most livable country
Visit Bhutan: This 7-day trip takes you through all the highlights of Bhutan (Tiger’s Nest Monastery included!)

 

The best destination for: hospitable locals

Cassie: It’s so great when you go to Thailand and experience their hospitality firsthand. The first time I realized how hospitable they truly were was when I was in the store and I went to give the cashier my debit card to pay, and she literally placed her hands together and bowed graciously to me saying “thank you”, to take my card and swipe it through. The locals of Thailand, all over, whether Phuket, Bangkok or anywhere in between are truly so kind.

ThailandOur guides to Thailand: How to spend 7 days in Thailand | Why Ko Tao is Thailand’s must-visit island Everything you need to know about visiting Krabi

 

The best destination for: avoiding crowds

Cassie: Tunisia is a beautiful country, rich in culture, exquisite beauty, and lifestyle. I highly recommend visiting it to get a true sense of Northern African culture which many don’t have the opportunity to experience but it’s so incredibly appealing.

 

The best destination for: feeling safe

Cassie: Singapore is such a great, unique and safe city, everyone speaks English and it’s a really cool place to wander around and feel completely safe.

Singapore temple

Buddhist temple in Singapore’s Chinatown

Read more about Singapore: The ultimate guide to dining in Singapore
Visit Singapore: Travel from Singapore to Bangkok on this 13-day adventure (through Malaysia and more!)

 

The best destination for: week-long vacations

Cassie: If you have limited annual leave I’d recommend heading to Central America or Europe. Both have great deals for cheap flights, and whether you’re in LA or NY, either place is a hop, skip and a jump to affordable and compelling places.

 

Got the solo travel bug? Intrepid has a new range of trip departures just for solo travelers. 

(Image credits from top to bottom: Cassie De Pecol, Cassie De Pecol, Intrepid Travel, iStock/jahmaica, iStock/gydyt0jas, Cassie De Pecol, Intrepid Travel, Intrepid Travel, Intrepid Travel)

Feeling inspired?

You might also like

17 comments

Sarah Tom May 18, 2018 - 4:36 am

Wow! I really need to get my passport back out after reading this. I think I will start with the US, it’s all about good eats for me 🙂

Reply
myob November 8, 2017 - 11:34 pm

I’ve been travelling solo since 2005. Not to every country on earth. Not constantly, but I work hard and pay for each trip I do with my own money. Never has anyone given me a penny of assistance and I have had the most amazing adventures and spend decent amounts of time in many places, not enough in others. I love when people ask me for travel advise or assistance. I’ve tried to do blogs and vlogs about it purely to share my experiences and interests but I guess since I’m not a model wannabe and don’t rely on others money and sponsorship its not considered nearly as interesting as this girl.
I’d like to know, did she visit Syria and other war torn territories? How about Saudia Arabia, where you must be invited to visit and cannot travel as a solo female traveller???
It’s all about hashags likes and numbers these days.
I much prefer to travel how i do, every one or two years, using my own money and my own research.
I for one won’t be reading her so called ‘book’ or taking any of her advise about places she has dabbed one big to into!!!

Reply
rick be November 15, 2017 - 3:59 pm

Very good questions indeed,MYOB,what about Afghanistan & even Pakistan where i was many years ago but wouldn’t dare go there again.

Reply
Lindsay G November 6, 2017 - 7:39 am

196 countries in just over 18 months. so 11 countries per month, or an average of 3 days in each. and that doesn’t take into account the flights (hate to think of the carbon footprint)and the fact that she refers to going home for a break a few times. How is that experiencing anything other than a lot of airports. Its hardly possible to get off the beaten track since a day and a half away from the airport and you’d be having to turn round to get back there. I don’t see how she can advise anyone on the best things to see anywhere!

Reply
Happy Wanderer September 2, 2017 - 3:50 pm

Every time I see this story pop up lately I can’t help but scream “white privilege” at the top of my lungs. I’m also caucasian btw so I know what it’s like to be helped out or given preference not because of who I am or what I’ve done but just because of what I look like which is obviously something I have no control over. Add to this the fact that not only is she a white women but a good looking white women (and yes of course that matters) and you have basically a no brainer here. I remember when I first read this story and saw her picture and thought to myself, “oh wow a good looking white girl got to travel the world mostly for free. No shit! What a shock! ” I then found out more stuff about how she actually did it, like somehow convincing people to sponsor her as an ‘ambassador for peace’ and using sites like couchsurfing where other people host you for free in their homes, in her case I suspect mostly guys of course, taking advantage of your typical beta males who were just happy to have her in their presence.
I then read on about how she was motivated by past female heroines like Amelia Earhart who was the first woman to fly around the world. I remember thinking to myself what an unfair and demeaning comparison. To compare the two is just simply ridiculous! If that is who she aspired to emulate she really failed miserably. Comparing herself to someone who worked really hard at her craft in a mostly male dominated arena at the time and managed to successfully pull off something truly great to someone like herself who basically just did a really good job of gaming the system and using her looks and privilege truly pales in comparison.
I would have been more impressed by her so called ‘achievement’ had she thanked all those involved who help her get to this point, yes that includes all the guys that let her stay for free. But even better, maybe now she can truly complete her mission and calling by helping others to do the same thing she did, regardless of who they are or what they look like. Maybe establish an organization geared mostly to young people that will teach and enable them to reach the same goal. Now that would truly be an accomplishment worth celebrating! But judging by the humility I’ve seen thus far I won’t hold my breath. Yeah, I think it’s obvious this wasn’t a mission about spreading peace or learning and experiencing new cultures or even about accomplishing something truly great and worthy of admiration, it was just simply about fame. Kudos to her though, she figured out how to cheat and game the system and she got her 15 minutes. If that’s good enough for her and people that admire what she did, fantastic! I really truly do hope there’s more to it and more to her but again, I won’t hold my breath. Personally, I’d like to think this generation deserves a better heroine.

Reply
Lucy zhang August 31, 2017 - 12:06 am

Cassie,
Wonderful experience and great writing.
I always travel solo, but no courage to do so. Now I can use yours as a guide to start with. Will you please send this to my email. Thanks.

Reply
Beth August 28, 2017 - 7:23 am

Haters gonna hate. You people amaze me with your snarky little comments. Read more about her on other sites and prepare to be blown away. Share the love people.. Maybe you’re just jealous.

Reply
Shane August 28, 2017 - 12:38 pm

I’m jealous because I wish I could afford to travel to every country. I just wanted to know how she did it so I can do the same. I wouldn’t know the first thing about attracting a sponsor.

Reply
rick be November 6, 2017 - 10:48 am

Heckuva record,congratulations is all I can say. This was no cakewalk no matter what anyone thinks.

Reply
Leanne August 23, 2017 - 7:37 am

196 countries in 18 months? That sounds so over kill and awful. At least now that she has the title under the belt she can go back and actually experience the cultures of these places, right?

Reply
Mia August 19, 2017 - 5:21 am

I sincerely applaud her for her amazing accomplishment, but was disappointed to read “Central America or Europe” as her answer to the last question. That’s a non-answer.

And I think a good follow-up question would have been: Now that she’s been to all countries, which ones would she love to go back to?

Reply
rick be August 20, 2017 - 2:12 pm

I surely agree,why didn’t she really answer?

Reply
Casey November 6, 2017 - 11:24 am

I just reviewed the article again. Did she really answer “America” to the best destination for authentic eats??? Nope, sorry. I also agree now that this was more to ‘check the box’ rather than ‘check the experience’ type of bragging rights.

Reply
Annika August 18, 2017 - 12:03 pm

Mh, not sure if she is the right person to give such advice considering that she only spent a few days in each country and funded it through sponsorship…but maybe I am just overly critical to her as I think the whole thing was about marketing and not travel and definitely not very sustainable even though some trees were planted. But if she managed to positively effect some people on the way I guess it was worth it somehow. I just don’t think she should be hailed as the new heroine of #travelgoals for female travelers.

Reply
rick be August 20, 2017 - 2:11 pm

I plan on filling in my Russian Square with a trip on Aeroflot with a stop in Moscow & on to Sofia.Would you have me spend a month there or a week? I put one(1) foot in Arizona & counted that at the Boulder Dam. Should I go back,Annika?

Reply
nicholas lamontanaro August 16, 2017 - 1:40 am

Great read!!

Reply
rick be August 15, 2017 - 12:54 pm

I won’t live long enough to match her record,but hopefully I will die trying. My favorite country is Thailand,food,beaches,people,city and country,even safety,those little guys couldn’t scare me…

Reply

Leave a Comment