Torbjørn C. Pedersen isn't the first to attempt a world tour while considering more sustainable modes of transport. However, one day the 44-year-old Dane, who also calls himself Thor, got it into his head that he really should travel to every single country without boarding a plane – and it took him almost ten years to do so.
On May 24, he ticked off the last country on his list, the Maldives, and then boarded a container ship from Malaysia for the journey home, which took 33 days. Last week he arrived at the port of Aarhus where, according to media reports, more than 100 people received him. He is said to have traveled to every country in the world without ever using a plane - according to his own statement, he is the first person to have put this plan into practice. In total, he is said to have been to 203 countries, even more than are currently recognized by the United Nations.
His journey started in October 2013. At that time he assumed that the journey would only last about four years. He set himself several conditions for his project: he should spend at least 24 hours in each country and get by on a budget of around 20 US dollars a day. In addition, he should complete the world trip without interruption, i.e. without returning to his home country in the meantime, and not using the plane as a means of transport. During his journey, Pedersen is said to have used 379 container ships, 158 trains and 351 buses.
While on the road, in 2021, he even married his longtime girlfriend. In an Instagram post, he thanked her for her support: She had always stood by his side, even when he had the idea for his unusual trip around the world. Over the years, she visited him in 27 countries, so despite his world tour, the two were able to see each other at least twice a year - until 2020.
When the corona pandemic hit the world back then, Pedersen didn't stop his travel project because he was only missing nine countries. So it came about that the planned four days in Hong Kong turned into two years before he was finally able to travel on to Australia. It was both the worst and best time of his life, Pedersen told CNN. "I had to ask myself: How much of my life am I going to devote to this? But while waiting for the world to open up again, I've built a life in Hong Kong and made so many special connections."
The pandemic was not the only obstacle on his journey: Visa problems, unpredictable weather and malaria also slowed him down at times. Although he was often on the verge of giving up, he ultimately wanted to go through with his plan. Pedersen also benefited from the great willingness to help and hospitality he has experienced all over the world, as he told CNN: "I have stayed in the homes of many, many strangers during my trip, and have it in every country the world - those with armed conflicts, those with virus outbreaks - unharmed."
Back home, he now wants to devote himself to writing a book about his journey. He was also accompanied by a filmmaker for a few years, and a film about his journey is expected to be released next year. He recently published a trailer on Instagram.
Sources: CNN, T-Online, Euronews, Instagram