How a 77-year-old became the first Filipino to travel the world?
At the age of 77, Odette Aquitania Ricasa became the first Filipino to travel to all 195 countries in the world, 193 of which are recognized by the United Nations, while the other 2 are not members: the Holy Sea and the State of Palestine.
Before the pandemic started in 2020, it was only five countries short of meeting its target. These countries are Sudan, Chad, the Central African Republic, Libya and Iraq.
Finally, on August 25, 2022, after being detained for two years because of the pandemic, Ms. Ricasa has achieved the goal of many travelers: to travel to every country in the world! She arrived in Kurdistan, Iraq on Thursday, making it the last country on her list.
In total, she has been to 301 countries and territories, including islands! Even those islands that are not known to many including Robinson Crusoe Islands, Lakshadweep Islands, Andaman Nicobar Islands and more!
How it all started
Ms. Ricasa is based in Los Angeles, California and she started the world tour in the year 1980. She told that some countries, including Russia, had very strict regulations regarding tourism at that time. However, that didn’t stop her from exploring more and more countries.
Memorable travel experiences
Ms. Ricasa has two passports: the Philippines and the US. She mainly uses her US passport, but she said that in some cases it is ideal to use her Philippine passport.
One of these cases goes to Africa. Both US and Philippine passport holders require a visa to travel to this continent, but using her US passport requires more documents than using her Philippine passport.
When asked what some of her unforgettable experiences were during her more than 40 years of travel, she said there were many, but her visit to Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo, both African countries, is unforgettable. The countries mentioned are not popular destinations for travelers, and during her visit she was alone. But as the saying goes, “You must do what you think you cannot do.” And she did; she conquered Africa and the rest of the world!
She also said that when they arrived in Libya just this year, they felt like VIPs as there was a lot of security escorting them. But these kinds of unique experiences motivate her to travel more.
In her four decades of travelling, 80% of it is her only trip, while the rest 20% is a group tour (which she joined when she was just a beginner in the travel world) – talking about courage, passion and enthusiasm!
Ms Ricasa is indeed a travel expert as she is also a member of the Travelers’ Century ClubA club that only admits those people who have been to 100 or more countries!
In addition, she is also an active member of the Philippine Global Explorers travel community and heads the US West Coast division, while doing so while traveling.
Besides being a traveler and the first Filipino to travel the world, she is also an author of 6 books, a recording artist, a motivational speaker and a pianist.
She said having her book wasn’t actually her idea. It was early 2000, and she was in Spain, writing her travel experiences in her diary – “With all the countries and cities I’ve been to, it’s impossible for me to remember them, so I write them in my diary.” , non-literal statement by Ms. Ricasa.
Her boyfriend, who was with her at the time, said to her, “Why don’t you write a book instead?” That statement gave her the idea to write a travel book and share her experiences along the way. Her books are all available on Amazon.
Ms. Odette Aquitania Ricasa’s travel experience is one of the inspirations of many travelers, not only Filipinos, but also foreigners.