The Girl Who Saw The World

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend an event presented by the Philadelphia Geography Society at the Doubletree Hotel in Center City, celebrating Taylor Demonbreun as the organization’s 129th Explorer of the Year.

On December 7, 2018, Demonbreun arrived in Canada, the 196th stop on her journey. She now holds four Guinness World Records: the Youngest and Fastest to visit all sovereign countries, both overall and female. The journey took her a year and 189 days to complete.

Demonbreun grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and struggled with anxiety when she was younger. Her voyage began when she participated in a study abroad program in Europe and began traveling within the continent, which helped her to realize that she wanted to travel to other countries in the world.

During the few months she stayed there, she traveled to 20 countries within the continent. Like many of her peers, she felt that she did not have opportunities to travel out of the country often. 

In her speech given at Doubletree, Demonbreun recalled her struggles during her trip. Some of the countries that she visited were very small, and there was no easy way for her to obtain a proper visa to visit. 

Transportation into and out of the country was not always as simple as flying into an airport or taking a bus across the border. Along the way, Taylor made lots of local friends who helped her safely navigate her way across borders.

To help prepare for her journey, Demonbreun would research the customs and cultures of a place. This was especially important for her as a solo female traveler because her appearance made it clear to locals that she was a foreigner, and as a young, educated traveler she wanted to respect the local culture.

Demonbreun later revealed that, although her parents supported her, she still needed to work to finance her journey. The trip took her years to plan, as she had to lay out the most efficient route to travel from country to country. However, she added that the planning was one of the most fun parts of the trip.

Demonbreun’s journey shows that you don’t have to make a big trip just to impress someone when it comes to traveling. Ultimately, it is something that she says you should do for yourself.  Every step of the way helps teach a lesson. 

At the end of the day, the message that Demonbreun wanted to share with younger generations who would like to travel is to start small, test their limits, and have the courage needed to do so.

Article written by Tyler Vo on behalf of Global Philadelphia Association