Torbjorn Pedersen of Denmark has accomplished a remarkable feat that many can only imagine. He successfully visited all 195 countries around the world without utilizing air travel even once.
Embarking on his journey in 2013 with essential travel items like shirts, jackets, shoes, and a first-aid kit, Torbjorn had initially planned to return to Copenhagen and set a record after four years. Nevertheless, fate had a different timeline in store. Eventually, after a six-year delay from his projected timeline, Pedersen stepped ashore in Denmark from a boat.
Pedersen embarked on an extraordinary odyssey covering 260,000 miles of diverse landscapes, relying on cars, trains, buses, taxis, boats, shipping containers, and his own feet. Throughout his expedition, he encountered a plethora of obstacles, ranging from visa complications to life-threatening situations. Despite these formidable challenges, Pedersen’s determination prevailed, enabling him to achieve what seemed unattainable.
His motivation stemmed from reading accounts of travelers who had explored every nation, prompting him to initiate his expedition with a train journey from Denmark to Germany in October 2013.
Pedersen set out on this extraordinary voyage with the goal of adhering to a budget of just $20 per day. He opted for economical accommodations like dormitories or hostels, utilized a hosting app to connect with hosts, and ensured a minimum stay of 24 hours in each country he visited.
Although navigating through Europe proved relatively straightforward, Pedersen encountered his initial substantial hurdle in December 2013. His intention to travel by sea from Norway to the Faroe Islands was stymied as he struggled to secure passage on a boat. Stranded for three days, his predicament was resolved when a shipping company finally extended permission for him to come aboard. Despite this early setback, Pedersen persisted on his voyage.
“At that moment, those challenges appeared quite daunting. However, looking back, they pale in comparison to what lay ahead,” Pedersen recounted. In May 2014, he embarked on a harrowing boat voyage from Iceland, navigating through hazardous weather and navigating past imposing icebergs, all amidst a ferocious storm. Gripped by anxiety, Pedersen experienced a sense of dread as the boat made its way toward Canada, firmly convinced that disaster was inevitable, and the vessel would succumb to a collision and sink.
In 2015, Pedersen received a diagnosis of cerebral malaria while at a clinic in Ghana. This illness resulted in hallucinations and impaired his ability to carry out even basic tasks. Faced with these formidable circumstances, he grappled with thoughts of giving up due to overwhelming fatigue and the isolating feeling of loneliness.
A near-death experience unfolded in 2016 during his journey through an African jungle. Confronted by a group of men engaged in dancing and drinking, three of them ominously pointed guns at him, demanding an explanation for his presence. Miraculously, they eventually permitted him to depart without harm.
Although his desire to reunite with his homeland was strong, Pedersen’s unwavering resolve was fueled by the generosity of unfamiliar individuals. When his visa requests were consistently rejected, he enlisted the aid of taxi drivers and acquaintances shared with him by mutual friends in those nations, who played a crucial role in facilitating his journey to the intended destinations.
In March 2019, Pedersen embarked on a voyage to North Korea from Beijing, accompanied by fellow travelers. They were instructed not to capture photographs or engage in dancing near government buildings.
Upon reaching Hong Kong in 2020, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic led to widespread travel restrictions. In search of temporary shelter, he found employment at a church, which also provided accommodations, thus allowing him to consider the country his abode for almost two years.
In 2022, he exchanged vows with his fiancée in Vanuatu. During the same year, he reached the final destination, Maldives, and subsequently embarked on a two-month sailing expedition across multiple oceans back to Denmark. His return home was met with a heartwarming reception, with around 150 individuals warmly welcoming him.