Torbjorn (“Thor”) Pedersen is a Danish traveler who recently finished a trip around the world. But this wasn’t just any trip. Mr. Pedersen spent nearly 10 years visiting every country in the world – and he did it all without flying.
Mr. Pedersen had already traveled and worked in many different countries. But in 2013, he read an article about someone who had visited all the countries of the world. Mr. Pedersen realized he could set a record by doing the same thing, but without flying.
As he began to plan his trip, he made a few rules: no flying, no visiting home, and spend at least 24 hours in every country. He hoped that he could live on about $20 a day, and finish his trip in about four years.
It took him far longer.
The first part of his trip was pretty easy, though he did have to quit his job and leave his parents and girlfriend behind. He traveled across Europe and North America, where his biggest challenge was not spending too much money.
But as he moved on to other parts of the world, things began to get much harder.
To cross large bodies of water, Mr. Pedersen took boats. Sometimes it was hard to find a boat. At other times, Mr. Pedersen was on a boat for days, being tossed by strong waves during a storm.
He traveled by taxi, bus, train, and even walking. He traveled in cargo containers, and in the back of trucks with 50 other people.
Sometimes he paid for a place to stay; sometimes people invited him into their homes. At other times, he had to sleep outside.
Mr. Pedersen says he had many difficult experiences. He was once held at gunpoint and thought he might be killed. He also became severely ill with malaria.
But he also had many good experiences. Mr. Pedersen says that one reason he didn’t give up was the help he got from people all over the world.
“You might have to try 1,000 closed doors,” he says, “But there is always an open door somewhere. Never, ever give up.”
Mr. Pedersen’s girlfriend visited him several times as he traveled. When she visited him in Kenya, he asked her to marry him.
But before they could get married, the coronavirus pandemic began. Mr. Pedersen got stuck in Hong Kong for two years. Luckily, after getting married online, his wife was able to join him for part of that time.
Finally, in May, Mr. Pedersen arrived in Maldives, the last country on his list.
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On July 26, Mr. Pedersen arrived back in Denmark after a 33-day boat ride. He was met by about 150 people, including friends and family members.
In the last 10 years, he’s covered around 260,000 miles (418,000 kilometers) – roughly 10 times the distance around the Earth.
Mr. Pedersen says he’s looking forward to some quiet time to think about his trip. After that, he plans to write a book and share what he learned in his travels around the world.
Did You Know…?
Officially, the United Nations (UN) says there are 195 countries. Mr. Pedersen visited all of these, plus several that aren’t recognized by the UN, such as Taiwan. In all, he visited 203 countries.