‘I left my wife at home for 10 years so I could travel around the world’
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    A bloke left his wife at home to visit every country in the world in an unbroken 10-year journey without flying. We're not sure we'd be happy with that – but he managed an incredible journey!

    Thor Pedersen, 44, has always had a "passion for adventure" and decided to embark on a trip of a lifetime when his dad told him about people who had visited every country. Thor realised nobody had done so without hopping on a plane – so set himself the challenge of visiting all 203 countries, without taking a plane and on a budget of €20.

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    On October 10 Thor left his native Denmark on what he thought would be a long four-year escapade – leaving his now wife, Le, 40, a doctor, behind. Thor's journey ended up taking a whopping nine years, nine months and 16 days, but he completed it in May 2023 – and arrived back in Copenhagen, Denmark, last month.

    He spent $72,000 ( £56,489) over the last decade and took 351 buses, 158 trains, 219 taxis and 40 shipping containers PLUS a horse and carriage and sailboats. During the decade long mission Thor and Le kept in touch online – and she has been able to visit him just 27 times.

    Thor, who previously worked in shipping and logistics, said the last decade was like "being in a coma". He said: "I have essentially been a nomad for a decade. "It's a bit like being in a coma. My life is upside down. This has come at a cost. I'm working on myself mentally. My mind is taking a lot longer to return home."

    Thor had only been with his now-wife Le for a year when he decided to embark on his mission but they decided to stay together in a long-distance relationship. He said: "In January 2013 my dad emailed me a link to the people who had been to every country in the world. The more digging I did the I saw none of the 200 at that point had done it completely without flying.

    "That intrigued me. I just couldn't leave the idea. I thought it would take four years – I was quite wrong."

    He set off from Denmark to Germany in October 2013 and went through Western central Europe, then along to the Nordic countries before travelling through all of America. From there he went to the Caribbean, Western Hemisphere, to Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia. Thor was stuck in Hong Kong for two years when the pandemic broke out and got himself a job helping people stuck on Danish cruise ships so he could stay.

    He managed to marry Le online so she could come and stay with him. If he had been forced to go home, it would have meant a failed attempt.

    He said: "I was down to the last nine countries. How do you give up?" Speaking of Le, he said: "She's been amazing. I don't think I would have pulled through it all without her."

    When restrictions lifted, he travelled to the pacific and Indian ocean and finished his final county – the Maldives – on May 23, 2023. Thor needed 10 passports on his journey to complete it and funded the trip with sponsorships, savings, loans and crowdfunding.

    He travelled an overall distance of 382,083km. He said: "It equalled the distance of the moon. This was an education beyond anything else.

    "I have aged 50 to 60 years in experience and learnt about culture, history and geopolitics. It's endless." After achieving his goal, Thor decided to travel back home without flying too so he could have a slow return.

    Now back in Denmark, he is adjusting to life after being on the road for the last 10 years. Despite being in a readjustment phase, Thor would encourage others to explore different countries and cultures.

    He said: "Go out there and rub shoulders with people and see what you come back with." During his journey he also teamed up with the Red Cross in 199 countries to raise awareness for humanitarian work.

    Thor's transport – 351 buses 158 trains 219 taxis 128 metros 87 shared taxis 67 minibuses 46 motorcycle taxis 40 container ships 33 boats 43 rickshaws/tuk-tuks 32 ferries 28 4WD vehicles 19 trams Nine trucks Four shared motorcycle taxis Three sailboats Two cruise ships One horse and carriag

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