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Meet the Solo Traveler Who Just Became the Fastest Person to Visit All 196 Countries

Cassie De Pecol was nervous as she rode a bus from Oman across the border to Yemen one day early last month. Not only was she a single American woman traveling alone into a war-torn nation, but once she set foot in Yemen she would set the record for the fastest person ever to travel to all 196 countries in the world.

Watch the video above to hear how she pulled it off!

The news was made official this week, when Guinness World Records confirmed March 13 that De Pecol, 27, set the record for visiting all 193 sovereign nations, plus Taiwan, Kosovo and Palestine, in the fastest time: one year and 194 days.

Related: Jack Russell Terrier Breaks Guinness World Record Popping Balloons

“The financial and emotional hurdles I faced along the way had me at the edge of my seat, worried sick really up until yesterday,” the Connecticut native wrote on Instagram March 14. “That something would go wrong and I wouldn’t have obtained the record, something I devoted the past 3 years of my life to make happen. Now I can finally breathe.”

Related: Justin Bieber Has Eight New Guinness World Records

For a year and a half before she left, the single college graduate worked 85 hours a week at two babysitting jobs in Los Angeles and managed to save $10,000. 

She set off on her record-breaking trip, which she estimated would cost about $200,000, on July 24, 2015. She had some sponsors and figured she could get more on the way.

“About eight months in, I completely ran out of money, I had to come back home,” she tells Us Weekly. “I didn’t tell anyone, and it was really embarrassing, I thought I was going to have to quit 60 countries in.”

Related: George Clooney and Amal Will No Longer Travel to Dangerous Countries

But the determined world traveler was ultimately able to drum up more sponsors for her project, called Expedition 196

Sup? Hanging in the back of a tuk tuk asking myself, “how did I get here?” ?. Perhaps it’s because I carved my own path and own who I am? My values are strong and I will never lose sight of where I want to be and who I represent. Hold true to your values. You are the dictator of your own life and you choose your own projections. Live in solidarity or take an immense risk and break free. But whatever you do, never stop learning, never stop educating yourself and beyond anything else, never stop challenging yourself for the better, do not be afraid of change. We can all become better versions of ourselves; kinder, more compassionate, more alive, more inquisitive. Be THE BEST of who you are. Each day, I wake up and look in the mirror… I immediately note my flaws, a daily reminder of the rawness and reality of it all… but when I look in the mirror I tell myself this, “I know who I am, my values are strong and I own my life. No one can dictate my future or my life. I’m here for a reason. Find that reason and flourish. Forget haters and naysayers…at the end of the day, I’m alive for an unknown period of time, and I own this being. No one can surpass who I am and who I’ve worked so hard to become. Why? Because I believe in my individuality and uniqueness. No one has ever known and will ever know the very intricacies of my life, but myself. Stay strong. Hold out. Just.Do.It.”. Sound a bit egocentric? Perhaps. But we’ve all worked so hard to become the individuals we are today and it’s crucial to hold true to our values and who we are. Be the change you wish to see in the world (Gandhi), be the POWER you wish to see in the world. Be COMPASSIONATE, strong and level-headed. Be yourself and be confident. Go out there and live the adventure. ? • • • #expedition196 #expedition196entrepreneur @expedition196entrepreneur (Online Seminar Starting February 3rd)

A post shared by Cassie De Pecol | Official (@cassiedepecol) on

She is now writing a book about her experiences, from running in the snow in Kazakhstan to visiting the ruins in Petra, Jordan, to having “the best chai latte of my entire life” that afternoon in Yemen, where she finished the journey on February 2.

“I don’t really have any fears when it comes to these countries,” De Pecol tells Us, having just returned from a trip to Antarctica. “People are genuinely kind, and so long as you have an open mind to understanding or appreciating or learning their story or accepting who they are, then you will experience good. And that’s what I’ve experienced.”

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