Q&A: Cassie De Pecol

What she learned from visiting 196 nations

In 2015, Cassie De Pecol embarked on a worldwide adventure. Some 18 months, 255 flights, and 196 countries later, she became the first woman to visit every sovereign nation on earth. She was also the fastest person to do so, breaking two Guinness World Records along the way.

In her recently-released memoir Expedition 196: A Personal Journal from the First Woman on Record to Travel to Every Country in the World, De Pecol describes her experiences in the most far-flung areas of the globe, both rural and urban. She spoke to Furthermore about the vast undertaking, her biggest challenges, and the thread that bonds people across cultures and countries.

Find out her wellness essentials here.

What inspired your quest?

It wasn’t so much about breaking a record as it was about cultivating positive change around the world, if even on the smallest of scales. Growing up, I saw how terribly many countries and cultures were portrayed through Western media. I wanted to push the norms and break down barriers to show the truth of what the world and its people truly represent.

You said the biggest lesson you learned in your travels is that we're all composed of the same basic makeup. Can you elaborate on that concept?

All any human being needs is a hot meal in front of us, a roof over our heads, and someone who loves and supports us. The same is true whether you’re Somali, American, Bolivian, or Middle Eastern; male or female; and Muslim or Christian. The basic needs for survival connect every human being on this planet. We are all the same, and we’re all in this together.

What was the biggest challenge during your trip?

Securing the funds and finding an organization that would support my dream. I worked incredibly hard for three years to secure sponsors and non-profit endorsement. My fingers hurt from the thousands of emails I sent to various organizations with my pitch. Halfway through my trip, I ran out of money and had to spend 14 days reaching out all over again.

You’re also a speaker, ambassador, Ironman athlete, author, content creator, and CEO. What motivates you?

Death. The thought that I might not be here tomorrow is the ultimate fight for survival. It’s my way of taking advantage of what little time I have left. I let fear fuel my fire to pursue the things no one tells me I can, push the limits of my own capabilities, and inspire myself to achieve my very best.

What are some things you learned about yourself while on the road?

Around the world, I’ve only found kindness in trusting the kinds of people that Western media and politics tells us to stay away from. I learned that a life spent alone is anything but lonely. I’m able to find peace within myself through observation and education of cultures, people, and things around the world.

How did the book come about?

It wasn’t actually in the plan, but there was high demand. I journaled every day of my expedition and had a few hundred pages worth of material. It took three days to write the book cover to cover.

What advice would you have to someone apprehensive about traveling outside of their comfort zone?

Know that the world is generally safe and humble. The most difficult step is booking that ticket, but once you step foot on that location, you will be forever enthralled to continue to travel and explore.