In an extraordinary and remarkable achievement, Torbjørn "Thor" Pedersen has successfully accomplished his ambitious goal of visiting every country on the planet without taking a single flight.
Taking a bold step by leaving his job, girlfriend, and family in Denmark on October 10, 2013, he embarked on an awe-inspiring journey that stretched across almost a decade.
Pedersen established two key rules for himself- spending a minimum of 24 hours in each country and completely avoiding flights. With a budget of just USD 20 per day, he navigated the globe, embracing the generosity of people he came across throughout his travels.
Reflecting on his journey, he said, "Engaging with people is a strength I discovered during my journey. If you approach the world with an open heart, it often reciprocates in kind."
Over the course of ten years, Pedersen's journey was filled with unexpected challenges. From navigating closed land borders in conflict zones to overcoming bouts of cerebral malaria, his determination remained steadfast.
He said, "Someone told me today that I won first, second, and third prize in stubbornness." Despite the difficulties, he held a resolute attitude, stating, "There was always a solution. I just had to search really for it at times."
Yet, his journey was not just about the numbers, but the profound experiences etched into his memory. "I stayed in the homes of many strangers, and despite visiting countries even in the midst of armed conflicts and virus outbreaks, the world's kindness prevailed," he expressed gratefully.
Despite facing visa delays, logistical challenges, and a pandemic-induced two-year pause in Hong Kong, Pedersen remained committed to his journey. He sailed across the Pacific to reach Palau, a testament to his determination. Reflecting on his journey, he said, "Hong Kong became a blend of the toughest and best times of my life. It was there that I formed lifelong friendships and even virtually married my fiancé."
On July 26, Pedersen walked down the gangway at the Port of Aarhus, Denmark, where around 150 people welcomed him home with open arms. Overwhelmed by the emotional and heartwarming reception, he said, "Since I returned, I've encountered many tearful eyes – people have come up to hug me sobbing."
With the journey complete, Pedersen intends to turn his experiences into a book and documentary, inspiring others never to give up on their dreams. "I want to make a living by making people laugh, learn, and never lose hope," he said, looking ahead to the next chapter.
As he relishes the memories of his extraordinary adventure and enjoys precious moments with his wife, Pedersen stands as a living testament to the remarkable strength of perseverance and the beauty of human connections. "Despite the scary news headlines, the reality changes when you interact with people. They often embrace the experience wholeheartedly," Pedersen said, leaving behind a legacy that goes far beyond the miles he traveled.