Hi, I’m travelling to EVERY single country in the world in a single UNBROKEN JOURNEY, without airplanes. Ask me anything!
Nov 16th 2014 by onceuponasaga • 36 Questions • 2690 Points
My name is Torbjørn, which translates into Thor and Bear. I am travelling to every country in the World without stepping into an airplane, or returning to my home country. This journey has never been completed before and is estimated to take 4 years. The project is called "Once Upon A Saga". Check out our recent video at http://youtu.be/dejBi6YiznU
I have already travelled to 65 countries on this trip, and have had many adventures along the way. A few notable experiences include my North-Atlantic crossover (see here http://youtu.be/QMjgBsJETKA ).
Currently I am in St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and after that I will make my way up through the remaining Caribbean islands, and then onto Africa. My motto for this journey is "A stranger is a friend you've never met before", and so far, I haven’t been disappointed. This trip is mainly about people, cultures, life, breaking barriers, and adventure. A good example of this was my interview with my good friend Alex, in Reykjavik (see here: http://youtu.be/4iKqSIPf1yc )
Due to the compelling nature of this project, I have been given the honor of traveling as goodwill ambassador for the Danish Red Cross. Which gives me an added purpose to my journey.
So far it has been a great adventure, and day after day, I feel increasingly confident that I am doing exactly what I am meant to do in life. I would love to share my experience with the Reddit community, and it's a great opportunity to let as many people as possible know about this project.
Feel free to check out my website: onceuponasaga.dk Or like me on Facebook, instagram, and Twitter! /onceuponasaga
Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) “A stranger is a friend you’ve never met before.”
(Proof: see social media)
Once Upon a Saga - social media
How do you plan on traveling through countries such as Syria and North Korea?
The Red Cross Red Crescent may be able to supply me with some assistance regarding paperwork and safe travel routes for Syria. Regarding North Korea you can easily obtain a tourist visa although I prefer to get a more "authentic" view of the country.
My shoes got soaked 2 days ago and are still wet. I would say 10!!
I'm on a $20/day budget which is sponsored by Ross Offshore and Ross Engineering.
How much time do you spend in each country? Do you try to visit all the major cities?
With 203 countries on my list I try to average 7 days/country which amounts to about 4 years away from home. If I average 1 month/country then it would take more than 16 years.
Often I visit the Red Cross headquarters which mostly is in the capitol city. Also trains and busses will often take you to the largest cities so that's a yes although I prefer a more quiet environment in most cases :)
Where did you start and where do you plan on ending your journey?
I started in my home country (Denmark) in the north of Europe. I will finish when I get back home but the last country is currently listed as the Seychelles: http://www.onceuponasaga.dk/journey
I think it's some of the small ones. Like Andorra or San Marino. I'm sorry to say but I'm somewhat ignorant and had no idea what to expect. And those to countries both turned out to be precious!!
Also Venezuela surprised me. Apart from being undeniably beautiful it was a friendly and culturally rich. I anticipated that but I was concerned with all the warnings I had heard. And I really didn't think that the situation in Venezuela was that threatening. At least not where I went.
Good question! :)
United States of America. Hands down! :)
What is your favorite American pie: apple, pumpkin, hair, key lime, or other?
Apple! Every time :)
A preface to my question to save everyone asking over and over:
HE'S ON A $20/DAY BUDGET!
Now onto my question, what's been your funniest moment during your travels so far?
Hahaha :) Thank you ;)
That is really hard to say. I just had a 2 minute think about it and the closest I can get to an answer would be any time I am hanging out with people. I've had lots of laughs since I left home and the majority has obviously been in good company.
What do you count as "country"? Do you go by the list of UN members?
How did you arrange visas for places such as Saudi Arabia (which only issues business visas) or Turkmenistan (which is extremely hard to get a visa for)?
How much does it cost to get a boat from Europe to the Americas?
Does your $20/day budget include travel expenses? Or is it just your budget for food/accommodation?
Good questions! A country is a funny size and many of them can be debated. The base was the countries recognized by UN and we built on you of that. Countries like Taiwan are not listed as a country with the UN (or NATO). The complete list is here (203 countries) http://www.onceuponasaga.dk/journey
I believe that once I apply for Saudi Arabia it will be accepted that I travel as Goodwill Ambassador for the Danish Red Cross and will visit the Red Crescent. If not then I need to think of something else - but I'll find a way. Some countries change their regulations from day to day and it's generally not worth while to plan to far ahead for that reason. So in some cases I have a faint idea but nothing specific. I also do not want to know everything in advance as I want this to be an adventure :)
I came across the North Atlantic on 7 different boats. Container carriers, fishing boats and shrimp trawlers. 6 of them chose not to charge me due to the nature of the project and the last 1 only asked for $15/day (food and insurance).
The $20/day covers everything and is meant as an average over the entire journey. In some countries I'm above while in other countries I'm below. My current overall average is above but so far I have covered most of the expensive countries. I see it coming down and believe that the budget will stick (more or less).
What brings a man to a point in his life where he just decides to leave everything else behind to follow his dreams?
Opportunity, determination and a strong sense of adventure :)
What would you say has been the scariest thing happen so far to you on your trip?
Traveling towards Venezuela having been told that I was likely to be robbed, beaten, kidnapped or killed!! I was unable to get my hands on any good information and most of the information I had was contradicting it self. I had little to worry about though. Such a beautiful country!! Amazingly friendly people!! Wonderful culture, good food, good prices, lots of life and I could go on and on! :)
Does Antarctica qualify? And if so, on what leg of your journey will you make it there?
Hi :) Antarctica is not recognized as a country but it is certainly a place I would love to go to!! Not within this project though. But some day I hope.
How much money are you going to spend on the total trip? Take as many pics as you can!
The $20/day budget covers everything and is meant as an average over the entire journey. In some countries I'm above while in other countries I'm below. My current overall average is above but so far I have covered most of the expensive countries. I see it coming down and believe that the budget will stick (more or less).
I have done plenty of photos and I keep snapping away ;)
What compelled you to spend so much time (4 years!) doing this?!
I love traveling. I love discovering new things within different cultures. I love meeting people. That would be enough to get me out of the door.
But I'm also intrigued by having a shot of doing something that no one has ever done before. When/if I complete this journey then I will have set a new milestone marker for someone else to be inspired. It's that what we do in life? Inspire each other to keep pushing the envelope forward :)
Hi, I'm dying to know how did you manage to get a visa for ALL the countries in the world (as it might be a difficult task to get one to countries such as N Korea or Bhutan)? Also I'm interested of your views of visiting some war zones, for example Syria or Ebola zones such as Liberia or Sierra Leone? Thanks for your answer and good luck with everything (and remember to use protection;) )
Haha :) So far I've been to 65 countries and only needed visa for 3 of them. Easy. I have a lot more visas ahead of me and will deal with it as I approach those countries. Many regulations change without notice and it makes little sense to plan to far ahead. I generally check up on visa requirements 10-12 countries ahead.
Conflict areas may or may not cause trouble. Again this is a question of investigation and preparation as I approach such regions. That an entire country is "on fire" is however rear and there are generally safe zones. I used to serve as a UN peacekeeper while I was young and I know a thing or two. Also I'm traveling as goodwill ambassador for the Danish Red Cross which will probably benefit me in many such situations.
I'm a sucker for Italian food. But I had great food in Serbia, and throughout Latin America...and uh! In the USA I had amazing baby back ribs!! And the food in the Caribbean: yum yum!! And and and...
Oh no...to hard to answer. I love food! :)
It feels like thunder and lightning! ;)
Always :) The world is full of people. Mostly good people I believe but there are also people in desperate situations. I have not encountered anything bad but I take my precautions. I listen to what the locals tell me and do not press my luck by walking dark streets in the middle of the night by my self. Things like that.
I don't feel that I am naive when I believe that most people simply concentrate on things like family, sport, food, weather etc. probably around 6.5 billion people or more are like that. So I feel quite safe in general and my safety precautions are mostly a routine that comes natural to me :)
What country are anticipating the most?
I also just want to say I love what you're doing, and have been following your updates on Facebook for quite a few months now. You and your lovable, friendly personality are very inspirational, and I always look forward to photos that you put up and your Friday blog updates. Keep on befriending strangers and having an amazing positive experience in all these beautiful countries and cultures! :)
Wow!! Thank you :)
Off the top of my head I would have to say Japan. It's such a different culture from what I hear and I have a friend who went there years ago and said he had so much fun. But if I keep thinking about it the list goes on and on and on and on... ;)
Travelling to all those countries leaves you open to experience a vast array of different cultures.
Which country has given you the biggest culture shock so far?
Spot on!! :)
I haven't been shocked so far. But I have been surprised to discover that countries like Andorra, San Marino and Uruguay were nothing like I would have thought. The main "shock" I suppose has been to see how friendly and helpful people are all over the world.
Have you had any negative experiences so far? Also good luck and safe journey!
Hi :) Not really. Stupid stuff like forgetting something in a hostel or meeting the rear unfriendly person. The worst thing so far has probably been being sick for a week when all I really wanted was to have someone close to me hold my hand and attend to me. But I got over it and continued traveling :)
Hej Torbjørn. Mogens from Als here :)
In some parts of the world it is normal for customs officers, police etc to charge small unregistered fees in order to get permissions etc done. (You could call it small time bribery) .
One might think it to be morally incompatible with travelling as a Red Cross / Red Crescent ambassador. Others might think that those officers' wages are set at a level where they are supposed to supplement the wage themselves a bit.
Have you experienced anything like this yet? What are your thoughts about the subject?
Hi Mogens, That's a first for that question. Well done :)
I've seen much of the world and I have a hard time picturing it without some sort of bribery. For some people it's paying for dinner, paying for a golf membership and stuff like that. Sometimes it's just giving someone your pack of cigarettes. In my case I have not had to bribe anyone. Every border crossing has been "by the book". In all honestly I do not see it conflicting with the Red Cross movement should it happen. Because it might just be local culture and on a small scale. The Red Cross Red Crescent is present in 189 countries where they improve the quality of humanity. The objective is not to unify culture. But that's just my humble take on the matter. It's a good question! Thank you :)
The Irish are some of the most humorous people I have ever come across. I don't know if they are trained in school or if it is genetic. But I've seldom come across someone from Ireland who couldn't make me laugh. And to me a country is the people inside it. So I love ireland!!
Man, I'd kill to be in your shoes! But I'm from a 3rd world country, and I highly doubt that I'll have one, given several factors: (1) budget (2) visa problems! I'm looking at working with the ICRC in the future, though! How'd you have this opportunity opened up for you?
My shoes are wet today :) I think you can do this!? The budget could be handled by a sponsor if you approach it professionally and visas are an obstacle that can be overcomed. Granted though it would be harder with the visas for you. But the first step is really making the decision and stop making excuses. I made many excuses in the beginning. Some people even helped me make excuses not to leave home. But I really wanted this and now those same people are huge supporters which feels great!
Hi, after I finish with the Caribbean, all of Africa and the rest of Europe. So in about 18 months perhaps. Check out the journey here: http://www.onceuponasaga.dk/journey
Congrats on this great journey of yours! A lot of us think about undertaking a journey of this sort,but we usually end up getting caught with surviving to earn,and in the process never really do such kind of things. I guess this question is much a cliché, but i think its important..how do u accustom urself to the changing cultures as you go?
Hi, thank you. I hardly ever get that question for some odd reason? So I'm glad you ask. I had already traveled extensively prior to this project so I have in some sense had some practice. I generally believe in being open minded and in smiling as much as possible. It has worked so far and over the course of the last 13 months it has given me many precious encounters and fond memories.
Perhaps the Canadians? But really it could be any nation or culture I guess. The reason why I say Canadians is because the immigration officer at my arrival complemented me on my adventure and said he admired me. Then a group of young people were handing out free donuts. A lady I met had a voucher for a stay at a classy hotel which she wasn't going to use so she gave it to me. The receptionist knocked on my door 10 minutes later and offed me a free sandwich with smoked meat and a hand written card saying: "welcome to canada"
I've always wanted to embark on an extended overseas adventure like yours, enjoy every minute of it :) My questions are how are you funding the trip? And how long do you plan on spending in each country?
Thank you :) I'm on a $20/day budget which is sponsored by Ross Offshore and Ross Engineering.
With more than 200 countries to visit a month in each country would take me 16 years. So I try to limit my stay to an average of 7 days (4 years).