There are travel goals and then are travel goals that set Guinness World Records. That’s what 22-year-old Taylor Demonbreun accomplished when she packed her bags to travel and embark on an “adventure of a lifetime” two weeks after receiving her diploma and degree in economics and public policy from Vanderbilt University on June 1, 2017.
She is the new record holder for the fastest time to visit all sovereign nations (overall and female) with a time of one year 189 days (554 days). Taylor beat the 2018 record of Cassie DePecol’s record of one year 194 days. The guidelines require visiting 195 countries – the 193 UN Member States as of December 2018, the Vatican and Taipei. The first country Taylor visited was Dominican Republic and the last one was Canada.
In case you’re wondering, the Philippines was her 106th stop. In her travel blog, she titled her visit “The Manila Madness”. She complained about the “absolute worst immigration lines” at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the “crazy traffic”. But she did say that “From the very start my time in Manila was hectic, but I had a very enjoyable stay, as well.” She also said should “would absolutely love to come back to the Philippines in the future and spend more time visiting the beautiful islands”.
“Once I was in Intramuros, I spent a bit just walking around and appreciating the architecture. My favorite site was the beautiful San Agustin Church, which actually had a wedding going on inside that you could see from the street since they left the doors wide open. It was so cool!” Taylor talks about her visit to the Philippines.
“I had recently finished a semester studying abroad in London where I was able to travel to 20 countries. I have always loved travel and wanted to visit as many places as I possibly could. And, one day, 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,” Taylor cited in a statement from Guinness World Records.
Besides beating a world record, Taylor’s goal is to encourage women to travel solo. She urges young women to “see as much of the world as they can”. “To have played even a small part in encouraging someone to travel and see something new makes me so incredibly proud to have worked towards and set this record,” she added.
For one and a half years, Taylor lived away from her home in Northport, Alabama to explore various continents and countries. Overall, she took flights in a total of 114 airlines. According to her, one of the major challenges in clinching the record attempt was in applying and getting travel visas because it was something that she “had absolutely no control over”. Taylor funded her trip through fundraising and sponsorships.
There were some family emergencies also that made her change some of her travel plans. Her father suffered a heart attack while she was in Africa, for example, so she spent two months of her record time at home taking care of her parents. She also experienced social anxiety due to being “immersed in cities full of people she had never met using languages she couldn’t speak”.
She only spent a few days in each nation, but those were enough for her to gather a lot of memories and eye-opening experiences. “I have seen just how kind and willing to help people are in every country of the world and have really grown so much in how I am able to relate and converse with others. So, when I say that these travels changed my life, I mean it in so many more ways than it might seem. I have truly grown so much and become really comfortable in my skin.”
She considers Iceland and Singapore her two favorite countries. She reached her final country, Canada, on December 7, 2018, where she celebrated the end of her world adventure with friends and family. Given the chance, she said she would love to visit the countries she has visited all over again.
After earning her Guinness World Records title, she plans to chase after her passions: potentially write a book about her experiences, go to the next Olympics with her brother, and continue to inspire others with the lessons she learned from her travels abroad.
“My biggest takeaway from this entire experience is how similar everyone around the globe really is. I harp on this a lot because I truly think it is so important for everyone to know and try to understand. Some of us were born into incredibly lucky circumstances and some of us were not. We had no say in that matter, but we do have a say in how we live our lives,” said Taylor.
Did Taylor’s story inspire you to set forth on an adventure yourself and even attempt at breaking a world record? Then join the Spirit of Adventure in time for GWR Day on November 14, 2019. There’s an adventure and record waiting for you. Read more about it here and tell your friends about it. Now, that’s not just #travelgoals but #lifegoals!