How did a 77-year-old become 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 of the world, 193 of which are recognized by the United Nations, while the other 2 are non-members: the Holy Sea and the State of Palestine.
Before the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, it was just five countries short of the target. These countries are Sudan, Chad, Central African Republic, Libya and Iraq.
Finally, on August 25, 2022, after two years of holding events due to the pandemic, Mrs. Ricasa fulfilled the goal of many travelers – to travel to every country in the world! She arrived in Iraqi Kurdistan 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 started her world tour in 1980. She shared that some countries, including Russia, had very strict rules regarding tourism at the time. But that didn’t stop her from exploring more and more countries.
Unforgettable travel experiences
Mrs. Ricasa holds two passports – Philippine and American. She mainly uses her US passport, but mentioned that in some cases it is ideal to use a Philippine passport.
One of these cases is heading to Africa. Both US and Philippine passport holders need a visa to travel to the continent, but using her US passport requires more documents than using her Philippine passport.
When asked what some of her memorable experiences have been in her more than 40 years of travel, she said there have been many, but her visit to Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo, both African countries, is memorable. The countries listed are not popular travel destinations and she was alone during her visit. But as they say, ‘You have to do what you think you can’t do.’ And she did; conquered Africa and the rest of the world!
She also mentioned that when they came to Libya just this year, they felt like VIPs because they were accompanied by a lot of security. But it is this kind of unique experience that motivates her to continue traveling.
In four decades of travel, 80% of that is her solo travel while the remaining 20% is group tour (which she joined when she was just a beginner in the world of travel) – talk about bravery, passion and enthusiasm!
Ms. Ricasa is truly a travel expert as she is also a member Century Travelers ClubA club that only allows 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 leads the US West Coast chapter while traveling.
Aside from being a traveler and the first Filipina to travel the world, she is also an author of 6 books, an artist, a motivational speaker and a pianist.
She mentioned that having her book wasn’t really her idea. It was the early 2000s and she was in Spain, journaling her travel experiences – “With all the countries and cities I’ve been to, it’s impossible for me to remember them, so I write them in a journal.” Mrs. Ricasa’s non-literal statement.
Her boyfriend, who was with her at the time, said to her, “Why don’t you write a book instead?” This statement led her to the idea of writing a travelogue and sharing her travel experiences. All her books are available on Amazon.
The travel experience of Ms. Odette Aquitania Ricas is one of the inspirations of many travelers, not only Filipinos but also foreigners.