Lots of people have a dream to travel around the world, to see new places each day, to meet new people. But so many actually don’t fulfill their dreams.
Why is that so? Is it the self-doubt or lack of money that stops you before you even started?
We think today’s story will ignite your adventurous spark. You’re about to meet a young woman, babysitter from the US, who visited every country around the world in just 18 months. Cassie DePecol defeated all her fears and realized the dream of dozens of leading a travel lifestyle. Here’s the story of how she accomplished it.
Meet the Wonder Woman
When Cassie was a child, she always wondered, how to change this world full of bad stories and shocking news about each and every country. Maybe peoples would be more united if they won’t be afraid of other nations and start visiting their communities, war-torn or not? She decided to give this thought a real-life crash test.
On July 24, 2015, Cassie DePecol started The Expedition 196, to become the fastest woman to visit every single country on the planet on record. She made the journey as an ambassador of the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism (IIPT), giving lectures about sustainable tourism and its mission to improve the world.
Phileas Fogg starts being odd
She was a regular girl with a silly job, pipe dream, and uncertainty in her own abilities, until her 25th birthday. The truth is, you might expect something from the world, but the universe usually stays deaf to groundless expectations.
One day, Eric Hill, a great traveler who used to inspire Cassie in those days, died in an accident halfway to his dream. Cassie realized that we never know how much time is left and it finally made her take a leap of faith.
So she got to planning her epic trip step by step. She spent about a year and a half fiddling with Google Flights, Trip Advisor, and Airbnb. Applying for visas was the trickiest challenge because you must know in advance when and where you’d have to get your papers. Pakistan visa took about four months to apply for. By the way, Cassie classified this country as one of the 10 must-sees from around the world “to get a true sense of raw, authentic Asian culture, and for the food.”
During the planning period, Cassie was working two babysitting jobs 85 hours a week. It saved her about $10,000, which got her through about first six months of the expedition.
“I didn’t have any animals, wasn’t in a relationship or anything, so for me, it was pretty easy to just go and just kind of take off,” said Cassie.
The most frightening part when you travel around the world
If you’re a girl and you’re about to announce to your family and friends that here comes your solo journey to the Middle East and the rest of the world, be prepared. The conversation is going to be loud, to say the least.
Cassie confesses in her blog that her closest people were worried about her much more than she was. In fact, she was driven by fear. She also gives an advice to all the young fearless ladies inspired by her accomplishment – learn some Krav Maga combative just in case and pay attention to your close aids while traveling.
The worst experiences during her journey were being held at the border control in Libya because they thought she was in the CIA and getting robbed by teenagers with knives in Lima.
“There were only a few moments on my expedition that weren’t that great, but the online negativity surpassed any of them. Witnessing how terribly degrading and judgmental people can be online is one of the scariest things I experienced, more so than anything that’s ever happened in person.”
The mission of The Expedition 196 finally becomes clear
Cassie writes in her blog that the westernized people usually live their lives confused with the question “How can I make any difference?” and think there’s no answer.
The Peace through Tourism mission called on the importance of changing the world step-by-step, with solid awareness. Cassie wants to show people that they’re wrong about war-torn nations and it’s safe to travel there.
“Something that most people don’t understand is that the fear of terrorism exists among the people who live in these countries as well. They are victims of terrorism just as we are in Western countries, so there was a common level of understanding and bond between these people and myself when I’m in their country.”
She spoke to students, ministry, and mayors all over the world about tourism as a mediator between peace and conflict and a way to provide humanitarian assistance as well as further friendship among peoples.
“With Responsible Tourism comes understanding of what the locals go through on a daily basis and letting them know that you’re there to learn from them. <…> Responsible Tourism brings faith to humanity when all seems lost.”
As you may notice, Cassie is the first woman to reach such achievement as visiting all the sovereign states in under one and a half year. She emphasizes that it’s an important standard for young women worldwide – to make a great choice despite society’s limiting beliefs.
How much it cost and where she got all the money
Do you know what’s the most terrifying stuff for all brave hotheads? They don’t like asking for help.
Cassie DePecol isn’t an exception here. The worldwide trip cost her $111,000, and a girl who used to earn her living by babysitting obviously could not afford this. So she started with facing the fear.
Finding money turned out to be a great, life changing challenge for Cassie. She raised necessary funds networking with sponsors and investors. “I’ve found that I’ve needed to take a step back and say to myself, “fuck it. just do it. you’ve got nothing to lose. the worst they can say is no. it’s all positive anyways. just forget it all and make the call.” and believe it or not, 9 times out of 10 this method has worked in my favor,” wrote Cassie on her blog.
The most beautiful part
Cassie loves to say that the Expedition made her a better person – stronger and more confident, and at the same time more silent, with a great understanding about life and a great hope.
She tried to learn something from at least one person in each country, met them at their places and listened to their stories – “because everyone has a story.” Even if you don’t know the local language, you can experience a great moment of sharing food and milk or admiring the view with the natives. This is what Responsible Tourism is all about.
The most beautiful countries for Cassie are very different each time she talks about this, from Bhutan and Oman to Mauritius, but the most enjoyable moments usually stay the same: “crushing icebergs in a dingy in Antarctica surrounded by penguins, or spending a week in the Mongolian wilderness in a yurt.”
The journey ended. Long live the journey!
Cassie DePecol obviously can’t stop right now. She’s working on a documentary and a book and still sharing her advice with young men and women around the world on how they can pursue their own dreams.
“Tell yourself every day either in the mirror or every night before you fall asleep, where you envision yourself a year from now, because the more you tell yourself what you want, the higher the chance you’ll work day in and day out to achieve that goal.”
The world is getting closer each year. But the terror of everything foreign and unusual inside us is so old and devastating that technological progress has nothing to do with it.
Expedition 196 is one of those acts of sympathetic everyday people who take responsibility for the future of our planet and actually do something that matters. We strongly believe they’ll succeed, but everyone should lend a hand, you and me included. Indeed, it’s totally in our power to help each other reach peace around the world step-by-step. Let’s just do it.
Want to read more about traveling? Check the amazing story of a 17-y.o. girl who traveled around the world!