Extreme Travel

Vanderbilt grad aims to be youngest person to visit every sovereign nation

Most people dream of a traveling the world, but one young woman is doing just that — and looking to break a world record at the same time.

After graduating from Vanderbilt University, 22-year-old Taylor Demonbreun decided to set aside her job search (she originally wanted to be an investment banker) and travel around the world instead. Now, she's hoping to break the world record as the youngest and fastest person to travel to all sovereign nations on the planet in just over a year.

“I thought I wanted to do investment banking and then I got there and realized that’s not what I want to do with my life,” Demonbreun told Fox News from her hotel room in Bogotá, Colombia. “That was last summer, and one year later I’m doing this. And so ideally, I would like to work in travel.”

Demonbreun originally developed a taste for travel after a study-abroad experience in London, where she took the opportunity to visit an additional 20 countries.

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So far, Demonbreun has traveled to 25 countries on the first leg of her latest trip, which started in early June. 

A trip around the world can be costly, as Demonbreun tells Fox News. She estimates the expenses for her trip will range from $75,000 to $100,000, with the majority of the costs going toward airfare.

Demonbreun has used her own personal savings and obtained hotel, corporate and restaurant sponsorhip to help cover the high price of her record-attempting trip. She says nearly 90 percent of her accommodations so far have been sponsored by small hotel companies, and that during this first leg, she only spent around $400 on hotels. She's is still looking for sponsors and support through a GoFundMe page for the remainder of her trip.

In addition, Demonbreun writes and posts pictures about her experiences, hotel stays, the food she eats, and the products she uses on her website and social media pages. In doing so, she's hoping to empower women like her to travel alone, but she notes that some countries require travelers to be extra cautious. 

“There are definitely ways [travel] can be very dangerous,” Demonbreun said. “I think the biggest thing is taking practical steps to do the right thing.”

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One tip Taylor suggests is to carry an extra wallet with a little cash and a credit card or two just in case there's a pickpocket or a mugging. But those tips only go so far in some of the world’s most dangerous places. (The U.S. State Department currently lists 41 travel warnings and three alerts for countries and regions around the world, and some of those warnings advise U.S. citizens to rethink travel plans due to an unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks.)

That said, Demonbreun's parents are supportive but concerned about some of the destinations for the trip.

Her dad, David, says he’s likely to join her for visits to some of the more challenging countries. “I think my approach is if I do meet her it’s going to be with some of those challenging countries, not just to go meet her at any place. If that happens, I’m going to try to make it benefit her for us to join her.”

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On the other hand, Demonbreun's mother Paula has more amusing destinations in mind. “I’ll go somewhere fun!” she said with a laugh.

Over the next ten days, Demonbreun plans to visit Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. After a brief stop in her hometown in Alabama, she will continue with her journey onwards to Asia and Europe shortly thereafter. She plans to keep her followers updated online as the journey moves forward.

According to the Guiness World Book of Records' guidelines, Demonbreun only needs to set foot within a country's border to officially count the stopover toward her tally. It is not necessary to remain in any country for any length of time. Demonbreun says that, for some of the destinations, she may simply fly in, take a picture upon arrival, and depart shortly thereafter. 

Willie James Inman is a Fox News multimedia reporter based in Jackson, Mississippi. Follow him on twitter: @WillieJames