Torbjørn Pedersen embarked on an unprecedented 10-year journey to visit every country in the world without flying, on a budget of just $20 a day. Through the highs of marriage, community connections, and scenic experiences to the lows of cerebral malaria, armed holdups, and being stuck in Hong Kong for two years during the Covid lockdown, Pedersen’s adventure was a profound personal journey that challenged and shaped him. Struggling with doubt, exhaustion, and the potential of unfulfilled dreams, he nevertheless accomplished his goal, returning home after nearly a decade of travel.
- The Goal and Planning: Pedersen aimed to visit every country in the world without flying (203 countries in total), acting as a goodwill ambassador for the Danish Red Cross and spending at least 24 hours in each country. He planned his journey for 10 months, budgeting $20 a day.
- Challenges and Obstacles: The journey was fraught with serious challenges, including recovering from cerebral malaria, being held at gunpoint, coping with family and friend losses, and dealing with a 2-year lockdown in Hong Kong during the Covid pandemic.
- Personal Growth and Relationships: Pedersen’s travel affected him profoundly, providing unique life experiences that he couldn’t have had otherwise, and strengthening his relationship with his girlfriend, Le, whom he married during the trip.
- Environmental Impact and Sustainability: Though not initially a motivation, Pedersen’s flight-free journey resulted in a minimal carbon footprint. He observed that overland travel has become more challenging due to stricter border rules and reduced transportation options.
- Reflection and Conclusion: Despite the joy and significance of the adventure, Pedersen faced burnout and doubt as he approached the journey’s end. The realization that he had completed the quest left him feeling surprisingly empty, but the journey remains a remarkable feat of human endurance and determination.