Torbjørn C. Pedersen has become the first person to visit every country in the world without boarding a plane. His uninterrupted journey lasted almost ten years. The extraordinary achievement came to an end on Tuesday May 23rd, when Thor, as he is known on social media, crossed the finish line in the Maldives. ‘Once Upon A Saga’ is the name he has given to this project.
Thor traveled on a budget of 20 euros a day, a ceiling that included meals, transportation, accommodation and a visa. He started his journey in Denmark, in October 2013. He started traveling, first in Europe, then Americas, Africa, Middle East, Asia and Pacific, by car, bus, train, boat, and even on foot. He never boarded a plane, which was harder than he had imagined.
“It got harder as I went along,” he told ABC news Australia. “More and more ferry connections disappeared and were replaced by airplanes. I think border crossings got far more strict, and it’s getting almost impossible to come on board container ships as a passenger.”
Almost ten years later, he arrived in Malé, the capital of the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean, aboard a container ship. He reached the last of 203 countries, the number he had envisioned for the project.
There has been a great deal of knowledge and beauty and great experiences throughout all of this.Torbjørn C. Pedersen
On social media, Thor’s long journey was followed by many. He had to overcome many challenges: bureaucracies and visas, Covid, wars, different kinds of crises, as well as adventures. He learned a lot through conversations. He often quotes author Roy E. Stolworthy “A stranger is a friend we have never met before”. The longest wait was in Hong Kong, where he was stranded for two years because of the pandemic. He had only a few countries left to visit.
During the odyssey, his personal life also took a turn: he married his girlfriend of several years, Le. She visited him more than twenty times during the journey. According to ABC news Australia, Thor has spent the past four years working on a feature-length documentary. He also has plans for drafting a book about his experience traveling around the world. Another passion he’d like to explore is running. He wants to sign up for marathons and participate in races across the world.
Now he’s begun his return to Denmark. He is, as one would expect, staying away from planes. What for many would be many hours ‘wasted’, for Thor the return was just another opportunity. On his Twitter, hours after accomplishing the project and ending the odyssey, he wrote, ”Today is the first day in almost a decade that I didn’t wake up with a list of the countries I had yet to visit. A self-imposed list that restricted my movements and my life. Today I am free.”