We’ve seen stories of travelers who have visited every country on the planet before. Some have done it in the fastest possible time, while others have become the youngest or oldest to accomplish this feat. But one man has come up with a unique way of exploring the planet that involves visiting every country without ever using an airplane. That may not seem like a big deal, but in the modern age it is surprisingly more difficult then you might think. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic in full swing, it is next to impossible, as this globe trotting adventure has come to a halt with just nine countries left to go.
Torbjørn “Thor” Pedersen started his epic journey six years ago when he left his native Denmark to set out to see the world. Pedersen had always a traveler, even while growing up he and his family would frequently take trips to other countries. But a few years back he got the wild idea of traveling without flying at all. He knew this approach would be challenging, but it also had a certain romantic flair about it. So, in October of 2013 he left home to see if he could accomplish this feat. Now, he tells CNN that he is tired and wants to go home, but isn’t quite ready to give up on his goal. Particularly as he is so close to accomplishing it.
Currently, Thor finds himself stuck in Hong Kong and waiting for the world to start up again. He was there planning the next stage of his journey when the COVID-19 crisis put an end to international travel. His next destination was to have been the island nation of Palau, which he would have sailed to of course. But thanks to the lockdown, he’s had to pass the time by hiking and exploring his current location, even as he waits for things to start moving. Right now, he suspects it will take another year or better to wrap the final handful of countries he has yet to visit, but that’s a rough estimate. At the moment, no one knows when travel of any kind will start to return to some form of normalcy.
Pedersen has subsisted on a budget of just $20 per day over the course of his journey. That was enough to get him off and running, first visiting the various countries of Europe, before traveling to North America, South America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Mediterranean, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia before turning his attention to the islands of the Pacific. His goal is to hit all 203 countries on the planet, even though the United Nations only recognizes 195 of them. To make each visit count, he spends at least 24 hours in a given place and he has vowed to not return home until he has reached his goal. Along the way, he’s also visiting Red Cross societies, of which he is an international ambassador. To date, he has visited those sites in 189 countries.