One Woman’s Odyssey to Spread Peace
Through Sustainable Tourism in 3 years & 3 months in 196 Countries
Many of us grew up watching heroic archetypes flash across animated screens, so it’s not really surprising that members of the tech generations are rising to the challenge of creating positive change in the world.
One thing millennials understand very well is the power a photograph has to grab someone’s attention. Many use this power for self-promotion, but a growing number have found unique ways to promote nobler pursuits than that.
Enter Cassandra De Pecol, founder and photographer for Expedition 196. Like any great hero, De Pecol set a destination and embarked on a journey for her fellow humanity. She began her journey in Palau on July 24th, 2015 and has since traveled to 181 countries across every continent with an ambitious set of goals in mind:
- To break a Guinness world record by becoming the second woman to travel to 196 countries in less than three years and three months, and
- To teach people how to promote peace through sustainable tourism.
Sustainable tourism is the practice of measuring your effect as a visitor in new places. De Pecol not only gives talks to young generations everywhere she goes, she also teaches the world by setting an example of what sustainable tourism looks like.
Leaving a trail of videos, photographs, and thoughtful sentiments on Instagram, De Pecol shows how our footprint on the earth can promote peace if we will only weigh its impact. She does this by choosing hotels and hostels that support local economies, interacting positively with communities, and traveling to places that are often undervalued by the tourism industry.
In doing so, her photographs show a different perspective on communities that are often stigmatized in popular culture. De Pecol reminds us of the value of all people, and of the true joy of embarking on a journey: finding common ground in a place that seems so remarkably different from your home.
A Love of Travel
According to De Pecol’s website, her love for traveling stems from a childhood of shuffling between public, private, and homeschooling situations. This love eventually became a passion for sustainable tourism as De Pecol refined her understanding of the world through university studies. She began with socioeconomic and political affairs at Long Island University – Global College in Costa Rica, later studying tourism and ecological topics at Green Mountain College in Vermont.
De Pecol wasn’t content to merely sit in a classroom, however, and by age 19 she had set off to experience the world first-hand. Between the ages of 19 and 24, she visited over 24 countries. According to her biography, she “worked her way through her travels by sweeping floors, serving tables, and planting seeds.”
Today she continues the practice of planting seeds wherever she goes, only now she has the world’s attention. With over 2,500 posts and 280,000 followers on Instagram, De Pecol reminds every one of us of just how much we can accomplish by combining our passion with compassion, knowledge, and a plan.
De Pecol earned the know-how and stamina for her current epic adventure through more than extensive travels. In 2011, she became an entrepreneur by founding Geo Hospitality, LLC. This company helps small businesses and boutiques earn better revenue by offering consultation for effective sustainability practices. According to the company website, De Pecol and her team offer a number of services aimed at creating increased bookings, substantially increased repeat business, and a stand-out luxury hotel for their clients.
Photographing the Journey
De Pecol captures the heart of her journey through the camera’s lens, sharing stunning photographs that showcase the beauty of both humanity and nature.
The above image was taken during her travels in Dubai and was published to Instagram with a quote from Richard Branson:
With every photograph, De Pecol shares her story with us. Whether she is backpacking through Angkor Wat, or visiting a small business in Tivoli, De Pecol’s photographs capture a crisp and bright reality for the world – one that is far more peaceful than we usually see.
In juxtaposition to the clear images of her travels, De Pecol often posts stylized shots that give a better feel for what it is to travel. These images are often coupled with the wisdom she has gained along the way.
With this image, De Pecol writes, “for me, this expedition is a matter of maximizing every single moment that I have within a given day, to absorb as much as I can with the little time that I have on this earth.”
De Pecol has certainly made good use of her time on Earth so far. In addition to being an entrepreneur, traveler, and environmental activist, she is also an avid sports and fitness enthusiast.
No doubt, this is how she maintains the energy and stamina it takes to continue journeying and teaching.
This has led to some amazing nature photography as De Pecol hikes, runs, and kayaks through breathtaking landscapes against multinational backdrops.
An Inspiration and Ambassador of Peace
De Pecol not only traverses beautiful landscapes and local communities, she has also participated in summits around the world and partnered with organizations such as SKAL International—the International Association of Travel and Tourism Professionals. De Pecol has a number of impressive supporters and is endorsed by the International Institute of Peace through Tourism (IIPT).
This organization, based in South Africa, has granted De Pecol the title of IIPT Ambassador of Peace. As part of her responsibility for this role, she presents the following Declaration of Peace to every leader and teaching summit she encounters:
A truly unique individual, this millennial has proven that social media can be used to promote more than the self. In just over a year of traveling, De Pecol has nearly reached her goal to break the Guinness world record—inspiring thousands along the way.
She continues to be an inspiration to her generation, and to the world. As with any great hero, we’re left wondering exactly what new and inspiring goal this young woman will set out to accomplish once this one has been completed.
More than that, it should leave us asking how we might change the world. What could you do to create a better future for our global community?
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She has published hundreds of articles and is a regular contributor to various photography websites like PictureCorrect.com and Sleeklens.com.
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