Do you fancy yourself a worldly person? Chances are, you may not be as worldly as Taylor Demonbreun.
This young American woman was recently awarded the Guinness World Record as the youngest and fastest person to have visited every sovereign country in the world. (A sovereign country is a nation with a central government that controls a specific geographic area.) That's 196 countries, all visited in just 1 year, 189 days!
What drove her to such incredible lengths? Yeah, we had to know, too! So we asked her...
Our interview with Taylor
OWLconnected: What made you set out to accomplish these records?
Taylor: After my final summer internship spent working in New York on Wall Street, I just took a step back and realized I did not want to spend my life doing something that I didn’t love. I had recently finished a semester studying in London where I was able to travel to twenty countries. It all just sort of clicked — I want to work in travel, someday I want to visit every country, and I want to inspire others to travel as well. Attempting these records seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just that.
I started to Google what it takes to travel to every country and started learning about others who had done it. It didn’t take long to discover that there were records for it and that I might be able to break them given my age and the fact that I wanted to try and do it in the few years after graduating.
Another big motivation was to challenge the stereotypical notion that young women cannot or should not travel on their own. I believe that travel is vitally important to shaping one's worldview, so it is important for everyone to get out and learn more about the world that they live in.
OC: Were there any difficulties you had to face along the way?
T: The visas, for sure, were a major challenge. [A visa is a permit to visit a nation.] It was relatively easy to map out where and when I wanted to go somewhere, but I had absolutely no control when it came to the visas. If an embassy wanted to keep one of my passports for months they could do just that. Luckily, I was able to get most of my visas in a timely manner but there are some that continue to give me nightmares.
Another difficulty was the timing aspects of the planning. There were countries that I really wanted to see more of but, due to flight schedules more than anything else, I was unable to do so. I knew what I was getting into going in and that, due to the record I was attempting, I might not be able to spend as much time as I would like in some places. I’m hoping to be able to travel back to many of the places that I didn’t get to see in depth at some point in my life!
OC: Now that you’ve accomplished this feat, are there any other records you’d like to break?
T: I would love to! It was a great experience and if I could attempt a record that I was similarly passionate about I would love to do it again. I probably would try to stick to shorter records time wise in the future, though! One that I think would be really cool to do is the Fastest time to visit all Disney theme parks. Someday!
OC: Are you planning any more trips?
T: Yes! I definitely plan to continue traveling going forward. Even if it is not a part of my day-to-day, it will always be something that I’m constantly doing because I want to see even more of the world. The next trip that I have planned is the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
OC: Who inspires you?
T: My mom has definitely been hugely important throughout my life because she has always been supportive of me no matter what. I found a school notebook from the second grade that asked me essentially the same question — my answer then was my mom “because she always tells me that I can do anything and that I can do anything that boys can do”. I have felt that encouragement for my entire life.
Another monumental figure in my life has been Taylor Swift. This is one of my favorite quotes by Taylor: “No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.” I think that quote is really the key to so much in this world and something that I try to live my life by.
OC: What advice would you give to young readers hoping to break records one day?
T: Go for it! It can definitely be challenging and might add a few more requirements to whatever your goal may be, but for me it was totally worth it. It was an amazing feeling to walk into Canada [the final country on her trip] but getting the email that I had set the records just made everything finally feel complete. Learn as much as you can about the requirements of your record, stay on top of everything, and keep it all organized.
Taylor's records in full
- Fastest time to visit all sovereign countries (female)
- The fastest time to visit all sovereign countries (female) is 1 year and 189 days and was achieved by Taylor Demonbreun (USA) between 1 June 2017 and 7 December 2018.
- Fastest time to visit all sovereign countries (overall)
- The fastest time to visit all sovereign countries (overall) is 1 year and 189 days and was achieved by Taylor Demonbreun (USA) between 1 June 2017 and 7 December 2018.
- Youngest person to travel to all sovereign countries (overall)
- The youngest person to travel to all sovereign countries is Taylor Demonbreun (USA, b. 21 October 1994) who was 24 years and 48 days old when she arrived in the final country, Canada, on 7 December 2018.
- Youngest to travel to all sovereign countries (female)
- The youngest to travel to all sovereign countries (female) is Taylor Demonbreun (USA, b. 21 October 1994) who was 24 years and 48 days old when she arrived in the final country, Canada, on 7 December 2018.