|Photo by Martin Barraud/OJO Images/Getty Images|
by Hugh Morris, The Daily Telegraph, November 9, 2016
Anyone prone to crippling envy should look away now.
That's because a 27-year-old is on her way to becoming the youngest person in history to visit every country in the world.
Cassie De Pecol, from the US state of Connecticut, has spent the last 16 months ticking off nations at a rate of knots - it's now 180 and counting - and expects to complete the full list before the end of the year by stepping foot in a further 16.
The whistlestop traveller, who has been documenting her experiences on Instagram under the moniker expedition_196, has spent around £160,000 so far, which includes 254 flight tickets, but has funded much of her trip through sponsors and by obtaining free accommodation in exchange for social media posts.
De Pecol, who says she spends between two and five days in each place, is also filming her travels for a documentary, acting as an ambassador for the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism and collecting water samples around the world for Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation.
“As a young woman, I’d always dream to travel to as many countries as possible and make our world a better place,” she said. “It bothered me though that I could never figure out how to ignite this inner fire and make it happen.
“For the better part of my late teens and early twenties, I travelled. After having completed three and a half years of college, I booked a one-way ticket and travelled across four continents and 26 countries.”
It was that initial voyage that sparked De Pecol’s ambition to visit every country, and use her adventure to inspire good will around the world.
She is now back in Connecticut organising visas and transport to reach the last 16.
De Pecol, who knows the self-defence system, Krav Maga, and is also a triathlete, said that when she has finished she plans to rent a cabin in the mountains of British Columbia, Canada, to reflect on the trip.
“I’d love to continue inspiring people and travelling,” she said.
De Pecol looks set to take the record for being the youngest person to step foot in all the world’s countries - including disputed lands such as Taiwan and the Occupied Palestinian Territories - from 33-year-old Graham Hughes, who completed the same challenge in 2014, in just under four years. However, Hughes did it without ever flying.
Another to achieve the same feat was Gunnar Garfors, who has advised on his 12 favourite countries for Telegraph Travel .
For those without the time to tick off every one of the world’s countries, there is a Travellers’ Century Club for adventurers to manage 100 nations. The group notes 325 countries and territories, including parts of the countries removed from their parent.
This article was written by Hugh Morris from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.