Tips on traveling solo from record-setting traveler Cassie De Pecol

Earlier this month, 27-year-old Cassie De Pecol became the first documented woman to travel to each country on Earth, and she did so in record time, visiting all 196 countries in less than half the time it took the previous Guinness World Record holder to do so.

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Along the way, De Pecol gained a huge online following on her Instagram account (@expedition_196) while promoting the need for sustainable tourism and gender equality. She also learned a thing or two about what it takes to travel alone.

While the trip was the expedition of a lifetime for De Pecol — one that she had dreamed about since high school — getting through it was far from easy.

“It definitely wasn’t an 18-month walk in the park,” De Pecol told GrindTV. “It took a ton of work to be able to get around the world.”

So, GrindTV got De Pecol on the phone to solicit her tips on how someone could successfully replicate her globetrotting ways. Here’s what she had to say:

On how to finance a round-the-world excursion

In the year-and-a half prior to departing for my trip I was babysitting, working two jobs in California, and probably clocking about 75 hours a week to be able to save up $10,000. That was enough to get me through my first six months of traveling through Europe.

[The $10,000] gave me time to obtain sponsors and independent investors who saw my mission as being in-line with their corporate responsibility message. I knew that I wanted to make a change in the world with my travel, and so I had to find organizations that were likeminded.

That’s the number one thing if you’re someone interested in doing something similar to me: You have to find your purpose and be 100 percent committed to it. You have to be willing to fail — and have it be all your fault — and stay true to the purpose you want to have. What is the purpose of your travel?

For me it was sustainability. For others, it could be equality and world hunger. But your travel can be valuable if you’re contributing to the world, and you can find organizations willing to help you do that.

On how women can stay safe while traveling alone abroad

I think traveling alone can be a very validating, liberating and personally enlightening experience. But I think it goes without saying that there is a considerable more amount of inherent danger in traveling alone as a woman compared to traveling alone as a man. As a woman traveling alone, you can easily become a target.

You know, in my travels I went to countries like Yemen and Syria, and I’m not going to lie, I was nervous going to those places. But you need to have confidence.

I really recommend taking a basic self-defense class. Just to give you the peace of mind that, if someone comes up to you and grabs your neck from behind, you know what to do. I feel like if women knew those skills they’d feel a lot more comfortable traveling alone.

But there are definitely ways to avoid being targeted. It’s important to not look around on the street as if you’re lost in a country you’re visiting. Look confident in where you’re going, and just try to ignore any unwanted attention you get.

On overcoming negative reactions from friends and family to your plans

I’ve dealt with a lot of negative reactions online from my trip, and a lot of what people had to say when they found out I was traveling the world alone for 18 months was really pretty nasty.

And if you’re looking to go out on your own and it’s family members saying you can’t or shouldn’t do it, that’s even harder to deal with. But if you’re in your twenties, and you’re not financially supported by your family, and you can afford it, you just have to go for it.

You have one life and it’s your own life. It’s important to break away from your support net and figure out on your own how to formulate your career path, and if that path is through travel then so be it.

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