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2020 Travel Inspiration: A mighty traveler to visit every country in the world without flying

Travel bucket lists don’t need a new year to be written out. But as we ring in a new decade, we’re kicking it off with a unique and epic story of one man’s journey, or a “saga” as he likes to call it, around the world!

Born Torbjorn Pedersen, he goes by the name Thor, which actually makes it easier for him to introduce himself to practically every kind of citizen in the world. Because mighty as his name, Thor left his homeland Denmark last October 10, 2013 to embark on a trip to visit every country — without taking any flight! If he does this successfully, then he will be the first person in the world to do so! Call it crazy but when he came to the Philippines a few months ago, he has already traveled 276,000 kilometers only by land and sea in 186 countries then!

Apart from (obviously) his passport, a smartphone, and a multi-purpose scarf, he swears by a ballpen as one of his travel essentials. “It’s good for communicating especially if you don’t speak the language of the country. And also for self-defense!” he quips. 

With the immense landscapes Thor has seen from every corner of the globe down to the thousands of people he has encountered (he thinks of strangers as friends you haven’t met yet), one would think he has probably found the answers to life’s most complicated questions. Yet his most profound learning throughout his 6-year-and-counting saga is that “the world is so peaceful, mundane, and ordinary. It is made out of the normal things you do everyday like standing in line, taking the bus to work, paying your bills, etc. That’s what we spend most of our life doing.”

Pretty sure you have a list of questions in your head as to how he is able to fund his non-stop travel, cross borders, get visas, plan out all the routes, and so on. He maintains his website onceuponasaga.dk where he documents all information about his trip. We also learned that he was made Goodwill Ambassador of the Danish Red Cross and visiting Red Cross National Societies in every country is part of the journey. His background in logistics work has probably served him right as well in planning his routes and schedules. 

Thor is taking on a journey not many of us could possibly take in this lifetime. But his ambition remains to inspire people to pursue their life’s goal, however small or ambitious it may be. “Too many people have dreams that remain dreams. A plan should follow after a dream. And then that one step.” Another fun fact: Thor is engaged to a woman back home while he is away, so imagine how hard it must be for both of them! It sure takes a lot of sacrifices to achieve this but as we delve into Thor’s journey, it’s definitely going to be worth it!

He leaves us with his favorite quote by Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta: traveling — it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. Well, he definitely won’t run out of stories as he fulfills this saga around the world. And we were left in awe and out of words listening to just some of them!

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