(This is a continuation of the session which was abruptly removed last Sunday. The AMA moderators have allowed for this session as a replacement)

My name is Torbjørn, which translates into Thor and Bear. I am travelling to every country in the World without flying or returning to my home country until the end. No one in history has ever visited every country in the world without flying. That is a point of view and all comes down to how you define "a visit to a country" or how you define "without flying": See more about hat below.

After all, where does inspiration come from?

The project is called "Once Upon A Saga". Check out our recent video at (http://youtu.be/dejBi6YiznU)

Since October 2013 I have already traveled to 75 countries and visited every country within the western hemisphere as well as 37 European countries, and have had many adventures along the way. A few notable experiences include my North-Atlantic crossover (see here http://youtu.be/QMjgBsJETKA ) and goofing around in South America (see here http://youtu.be/hbBNKaRPYoQ). Currently I am in Florida, on my way to cross the Atlantic ocean to the next step of the journey: all of 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.

The media often portrays the sensationalist aspects of the world, such as Ebola, terrorism, hunger, war, corruption etc. However, for the majority of all people the world, family, friends, sport, food and weather are more important. 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. The project promotes the Red Cross globally and its humanitarian action. The Red Cross has found its way to 189 countries around the world and is truly universal. This honor gives me an added purpose to my journey (The Red Cross is an official partner, but does not support the project financially. Once Upon A Saga is financially supported by Ross Offshore).

Since I am traveling to every country in the world I am also taking pictures and providing stories from each country. People are given the chance to see that travel is affordable, possible and that the world is not a big scary place. 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.

Once Upon a Saga is actively followed by more than 14,000 people now on various social media. What is more extraordinary is that people are following from over 100 different countries. It is a truly international project! ;)

Feel free to check out my website: www.onceuponasaga.dk Or like me on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and Twitter!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Once-Upon-a-Saga/320287321444752

Twitter: https://twitter.com/onceuponasaga

Instagram: http://instagram.com/onceuponasaga

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSy7qFQzxM9VOaMeOfYia_g

So, what does it mean to travel the world WITHOUT FLYING?

Although it has been decided for this project that a visit can not be less than 24 hours I really like fellow viking Gunnar Garfors' definition of a visit. He writes: "I must have done something there and have a story to tell. To merely step across the border doesn't count".

If you want to say you have done it without flying then I think it's best if you didn't fly ;) Some say that it is okay to fly whenever you want as long as you return to where you left off, and continue from there. I disagree :)

So there it is. It's as simple as that. The race is still open if you want to be the first person to achieve it. But what matters to me most is that someone does it. Hopefully by completing the undone we will push the barriers of mankind and inspire others to do even more.

Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) “A stranger is a friend you’ve never met before.”

Previous Reddit sessions:




Comments: 1840 • Responses: 89  • Date: 

newesteggs1055 karma

Serious question: why do you keep doing AMAs?

onceuponasaga259 karma

The last time I received more than 4,000 questions and didn't get to answer everyone.

But also because the project changes as it developed. New questions arise and I answer some things in new ways.

It seems to me that this topic is very popular and that many enjoy the sessions. So I'm happy to do it whenever the moderators allow me to.

However I was told today that I had to wait a full year before I can do another one...

I_like_turtles_kid1018 karma

I think you're just really full of yourself

onceuponasaga53 karma

It's certainly a part of me. But I promise that I will do my outmost to complete this project even if the day comes when I no longer feel the personal desire to do so.

newesteggs9 karma

I apologize if that came across as rude, reading it again it does seem to have an aggressive tone to it. I just thought it was a bit odd that you've had four amas in under a year... seems to be against the idea of iama. Plus it reminds me of this guy who posted that same ama a billion times just trying to sell his book. I have nothing against you or your journey, it's awesome, I guess I just don't like self-promotion. Even if it's just because you're trying to make your dream come true.

onceuponasaga21 karma

Hey, No worries. - thank you so much for coming back to me. That made my day!

I get to do an AMA every 3 months. The reason why 4 are listed is because the one last Sunday was removed. The moderators came back to me and said I could do one this Sunday as a replacement. Which was very kind of them.

I spend a full day doing this and try to answer as many questions was possible within that timespan. It's not to promote me. It's to promote the project. Hopefully if I can build up a lot of followers then we can change the perception of countries for a lot of people for the better.

There are so many countries that are poorly portrayed and misunderstood.

In terms of me I am pretty sure that no one will have any idea about who I am once this is done. It will more likely be "the guy who did it". And I'm fine with that.

Thank you once again for writing me back. It really means a lot to me.

DoubleEweSea218 karma

What criteria did you use to define what is a country? Are you planning to visit South Ossetia? Taiwan?

onceuponasaga168 karma

That is a good question, and it often comes up when I meet people. A country is a funny size and many of them can be debated. The base for Once Upon a Saga was the countries recognized by UN and we built on top of that. Taiwan as a example is not listed as a country with the UN (or NATO) but I will go and count it within this project. The complete list is here (203 countries) http://www.onceuponasaga.dk/journey

Demgar78 karma

2 days in Luxembourg? Did you walk across? (On your hands...?)

onceuponasaga33 karma

Haha :) Yes, it's been decided to spend only the bare minimum amount of time in European countries since they are easy to reach from Denmark once I complete the project.

But sometimes I arrived to a country late in the evening or needed to rest up. In such cases I spent 2 nights.

medo70022 karma

You didnt go to Montenegro :)

onceuponasaga26 karma

No, it's on my way out of Africa and into the Middle East. It's within the plan ;)

error_in_connection115 karma

if one were to follow in your footsteps to travel the world without flying on their own expenses entirely (unlike you), how much do you think it would cost approximately ?

onceuponasaga141 karma

Hi, The project budget is set at $20/day. So depending on how fast you think you would want to travel you can calculate the budget from there.

4 years would be around $30,000. A large amount in lump sum...but not a lot in comparison to 4 years of living and traveling.

the_inventor_94 karma

Doesn't the race aspect take away from the authenticity of actually travelling? I mean no disrespect, it just seems like you would get caught up in record-breaking and moving forward rather than actually assimilating the culture of where ever you visit.

Anyway, travelling the world is something I plan to do once I figure out how. It seems as simple as spontaneously getting up and going, but there are expenses to be paid and...expenses to be paid...and...?

onceuponasaga59 karma

You're right. 1 month in every country of the world would amount to 16 years. And I haven't seen all of my own country yet - and Denmark is pretty small. I wouldn't recommend anyone to travel to every country in the world. I would recommend people to travel to where they want to go...and enjoy it.

On this project I am tasting the frosting but not eating the cake. However I sometimes sleep in a bed of a local family, I mostly travel by bus or trains together with the locals, I eat local meals with locals and I walk the same streets as the locals. So I think I do experience a lot of a culture wherever I go.

Money and time are the 2 most popular replies to why people do not travel. I'm trying to show that if you have 20 dollars then it's not money.

But really it's all about making the decision and getting out there. The rest will fall into place :)

Sciar22 karma

How did your budget of $20 per day hold up across Europe? I'm traveling here right now and while I appreciate how affordable you're making everything sound I have to really disagree with the costs you're estimating to travel anywhere first world.

onceuponasaga33 karma

It didn't hold up. The $20/day is an average which reflects the entirety of the project. Every country in the world. So while I was above in Europe I found myself below in Latin America.

Asia is also really cheap in terms of traveling so it is still realistic. But traveling in Europe...and only Europe...on that budget it would be tough. It could be done however with lots of couchsurfing and/or a bicycle and a tent.

bodhihugger85 karma

What's your plan for bypassing travel restrictions in the Middle East? For example, you cannot visit Lebanon if you've been to Israel and vice versa. Same applies to Gaza and Israel. You're also required to have a permit from the Israeli government to enter the West Bank, which can delay your travels. Are you prepared for all of that?

onceuponasaga93 karma

It's a tricky region for sure. I travel with 2 passports and I'm officially acting as goodwill ambassador of the Danish Red Cross. Both which might work in my favor.

Careful planing will be key once I approach the region. But still much can change in terms of politics and possibilities.

Currently my focus is on the 54 countries that make up Africa and will occupy my time for many months to come.

headlessCamelCase37 karma

I'm pretty sure when you go to Israel they stamp a piece of paper instead of your passport if you plan on visiting countries with travel restrictions.

onceuponasaga12 karma

You are correct, that is a option. But I would still need to go back to a country afterwards which has friendly relations with the next country...because even with no stamp they can figure out which direction I am coming from.

Feuersturmer4 karma

What is the second passport?

onceuponasaga14 karma

It's the same as the first but only valid for 2 years. It's for people who travel much and need to send off one passport for visas or switch passports between certain countries to avoid restrictions.

ISayISayISay26 karma

How do/did you sort out visa requirements in advance? Some countries have time-limited visas (so you need to be very strict with your timetable to keep to them) and others only give them out in your home country - those that require both make life very difficult for such a long journey.

onceuponasaga28 karma

Hi, There has been no great need for visas so far. But on one occasion I obtained the visa for Russia which enabled me to get a transit visa for Belarus. The transit visa was good for 48 hours and gave me a window to travel to both countries.

I cannot plan everything in advance. Sometimes I work it out when I approach or in the situation.

TacoExcellence23 karma

For countries where it might be dangerous to spent a lot of time - say Afghanistan for instance - would you travel across the whole country, or just cross the border in a safer area, spent a little time there and then go a different way?

onceuponasaga32 karma

Both I think. For some countries I'll stick to safe zones. But in terms of my relation with the Red Cross I may be able to present a unique view of a "dangerous" region if I go there.

However I'm not into risking my life for a picture. So no matter what I do ill access the risk and make my decisions from there.

Wacenius13 karma

So, how many laguages do you know? And what do you miss the most about being home?

onceuponasaga44 karma

I miss milk. Danish milk :) uh - and my girlfriend!! I miss her too :)

I speak Danish, English and German at a high level. I know a lot of Spanish and some French and some Arabic. Using your arms and legs should also be considered a language :)

luckyluke1933 karma

Using your arms and hands is a language, it's called Italian. ;)

Also, how is Danish milk different from cow milk anywhere else in the world?

onceuponasaga3 karma

Wow! I speak Italian!

Yes, I think mil tastes different all over the world. Not always by much - but certainly different. And growing up with one taste just becomes "the right taste".

fuck_your_dumb_cat12 karma

How bad do you smell?

onceuponasaga189 karma

My nose works perfectly.

mecamammoth12 karma

I think what you are doing is the ultimate way to experience life, two quick questions: - Are the language barriers really tough to get by? - Do you meet a lot of women along the way, for, you know, play time?

It seems to me like it would be a fantastic way to meet a lot of people and really get intimate with their culture ;)

onceuponasaga28 karma

Hi, I agree! It's an amazing way to put some perspective on life and learn a lot about yourself.

So far language has not been a huge issue. It may get more tricky throughout Africa although there is almost always someone who speaks English and is willing to help.

I have a girlfriend - and she is my precious! :)

User_Of_The_Internet10 karma

What exactly does the "no flying" part prove? Why is other transportation superior?

onceuponasaga14 karma

It proves that it can be done without flying I suppose. In any case it sets the background for a much more interesting adventure.

And I get to meet people I otherwise wouldn't and see parts of various countries that I otherwise wouldn't.

Actually, come to think about it I feel like I am actually traveling when I'm not flying. I see deserts become mountains and rivers become lakes. I see where countries meet and my soul is never confused by jet lag.

Trust me, when you've spend months traveling across the North Atlantic in the wither time then you know how far North America is from Europe ;)

angusgbishop10 karma

What's the most interesting or best meal you've had so far?

onceuponasaga21 karma

You know, Haggis in Scotland might be the answer to that. Because when you know what they put in it...

But it tastes fantastic :)

TheSwellFellow8 karma

Is there a country that you're scared of going to? And also, I thought you had to fly into North Korea?

onceuponasaga14 karma

No, I'm not scared anymore. I have received so much information since I left home that I feel confident that I can enter any country in the world without being subject to great risk. But some zones/areas will be prone to a lot more investigation before I enter.

You can enter N. Korea by train on a tourist visa. But that's today. Let's see which options are available as I approach more than a year from now :)

s4int77 karma

What has been your favorite landmark/monument you have seen so far?

onceuponasaga12 karma

I think my favorites are tied up into more than vision or landmarks. I remember how I could smell the trees long before I could see canada enter having been at sea for 12 days. That was amazing!

And watching that rocket lift off from NASA last week was incredible. To see something leave our planet. I know it sounds simple. But witnessing it was just so extraordinary!! :)

DigiMagic3 karma

What is the point of allowing yourself to use X method of travel, but not Y? I know it's totally different, but, for example, when Apollo missions traveled to the Moon, or when Allies invaded France during WWII, they've all used whatever way of transportation was available or possible, without being picky. I would have understood limitations like "make N new friends in each country" or "spend max. M money per month for all expenses" or "do at least Q promotions for Red Cross in each country", but stuff like "don't ever use Y" whether Y are aircraft or cars of yellow color or whatever, just doesn't make sense to me...

onceuponasaga10 karma

I like your question, This form of travel certainly makes for much more of a challenge. It also keeps the budget down.

But in reality the most valuable thing about traveling flightless is to discover on my own body how far London is from New York.

It's also an amazing opportunity to see how the world changes as I move through it. Not just waking up with mountains all around me.

By crossing land borders I get to see where countries meet and traveling by bus or train introduces me to people I would never have met in airports or airplanes.

quit_complaining3 karma

How prepared are you to travel to countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and other regions where Ebola is currently major concern? What sort of precautions are you taking, and how might visiting west Africa later affect your ability (via visa or otherwise) when attempting visit countries later on?

Have fun on your trip!

onceuponasaga4 karma

That is a really good question with some real insight into traveling! Thank you :)

I too wonder how my onward travel will be affected by having been to "Ebola countries". But if I can just make it into the next country and then renew my passport then I think I'll be fine.

I've done extensive research and based it on facts from WHO, CDC and IFRC. I'm far more likely to be struck by lightning than to be infected. Being infected is however a serious matter but I really can't phantom that it will happen. I'm more so concerned with arriving at the border of some country that will not allow me to enter because I have been to a country with an Ebola outbreak. However I will probably be less reluctant to shaking hands and more prone to using soap.

cfmdobbie2 karma

How do you handle the "technology" side of your trip? As in:

In one day my mobile battery dies, I get a couple of hundred photos with my camera before that dies. You can take chargers, but is it that easy to find places to charge devices up?

I can take 4000-odd photos with my camera, but I wouldn't want to risk losing everything. How do you back up your photos so you won't lose them?

My mobile works internationally, but is very expensive to use abroad. I understand that world travellers frequently buy a pre-paid SIM locally and use that. But I assume that's only for voice, as data charges are very high. How do you handle mobile data requirements?

onceuponasaga2 karma

That's a first. Well done on that question :)

I back up all my my pictures to a hard disk and then my girlfriend brings it back home to Denmark every time we meet. We see each other every 3-4 months.

I have been able to charge my devises everywhere so far. I also carry a few battery packs. I even have a portable solar cell that recharges the battery pack and it has worked when I have had enough sun.

Thank you for the question.

2jzo2 karma

Which countries will you explicitly not visit and why not?

onceuponasaga8 karma

I'm going to every country in the world? So none :)

Nelfi2 karma

Does ISIS count as a country for you?

onceuponasaga3 karma

No, they do not. But the future will tell which kind of backing they will receive in the future and if I will need to re access.

PerNihilAdNihil2 karma

are you a trust-fund baby?

onceuponasaga2 karma

Nope :) I wash I was though...how easy would life be. The project budget ($20/day) is sponsored by Ross Offshore.

OnlyStraightLining2 karma

What leg of the journey are you most NOT looking forward to?

onceuponasaga3 karma

I think the Pacific will be tough. But I'm still kind of looking forward to it.

In general once I've been traveling with busses for long periods I want to escape it and get on boats for a whole. But having recently completed the Caribbean I want to get away from boats for a while :)

I think it's like life...but more compact. It's all good when you look back. If only there was a way to realize it while we are in it. And sometimes there is :)

strawkastle2 karma

How long do you think it'll take to walk across the pacific ocean?

onceuponasaga7 karma

Oh no, I should have asked Jesus when I met him in Mexico.

Some say that water levels are rising. I guess that makes the distance even longer?

Hey! Hang on! I think I'll use ships and boats ;)

onlyDave2 karma

Any country's where you didn't to anything at all of interest, or there was absolutely nothing worth doing?

onceuponasaga2 karma

No, actually I find that most countries are worth a lifetime.

There's a quote that goes something along the line of: "we travel to faraway countries so that we can speak to people which we would otherwise ignore at home"


Munch3D1 karma

Hey man! I have been following your journey on facebook, and i was just wondering... What inspires you to keep on going?

onceuponasaga2 karma

Thank you :)

Many things, sometimes the adventure, sometimes people, sometimes the Red Cross, sometimes this uniques opportunity to promote humanity, sometimes my ego, sometimes my sense of completing what I have begun...sometimes something else.

It changes around all the time :)

TightCircle1141 karma

How to you plan on getting into north Korea?

onceuponasaga3 karma

Probably by train with a tourist visa.

m3rcury61 karma

It sounds like you've really been having fun doing this, and I hope you have safe travels! Sorry I haven't looked through or seen the past AMA's, so please excuse me if it's already been asked: for someone always on the move, what do you eat? Do you go from restaurant to restaurant every day, do you learn new recipes everywhere you go, do you eat home cooking from new friends? Thanks!

onceuponasaga2 karma

Hi, I'm not sure that you would find that question iin past AMAs :)

I'm on a tight budget. But some places I can find a cheap restaurant. I often eat street food. Some hostels have free food from previous guests and I can cook that. Sometimes I buy groceries and sometimes I'm invited for a meal by someone I just met.

It's just like normal life. Just intensified :)

Amarin881 karma

Didnt that guy who won a island do exactly this?

onceuponasaga3 karma

No, you're thinking of Graham. I met him. He is a great guy and a formidable TV presenter and adventurer.

Graham could fly whenever he wanted to as long as returned to where he left off. Also he only had to set foot on dry land in order to count it as a visit.

See his N. Korea video on YouTube. It's entertaining. I think he spends a few seconds in N. Korea :)

inthesandtrap1 karma

What are the highlights? I've been to 4 countries outside of the USA. I'm curious what and when you'll be in Japan.

How long do you spend in each country? It probably just depends, eh?

Have fun! If I were you I would probably miss home after a few months.

onceuponasaga3 karma

The highlights are clear every time I prove myself wrong. I love going somewhere thinking "I know what it will be like" and then seeing how ignorant I am :)

Japan could be in about 1.5 years from now.

I spend no less than 24 hours in any country. My maximum so far has been 2 months :)

kalooki771 karma

Hey OP,

Great adventure and will follow your progress, are you able to work and earn money or on your short trips or are you just spending money you already have?

What are you taking with you on your adventure as I read an AMA where a lad who rides the freight train all over US laid out his kit and explained his essentials, but if your going round the world Id assume you'd want to travel light.

And lastly how long in the planning was the trip and long will it have been once accomplished do you think.



onceuponasaga2 karma

Hi Tom, Thank you.

This is a sponsored project so work will not slow down the project. In other words I do not carry out labour on this journey unless it's the only way to get on a boat I need :)

I do not have a complete list of what I travel with. But it's mostly clothes. I also have a hammock and a few books. I take all my pictures with my smartphone or with the GoPro. I'm traveling pretty light all things considered.

It took 10 months to plan it and it is set to take 4 years to complete it :)

LavaAndSea1 karma

What do you see, stuff or people?

onceuponasaga3 karma

Both. But I remember people better than stuff.

gRoberts841 karma

Could you do this by simply visiting the embassies of each country?

onceuponasaga2 karma

Or I could just visit ships that are registered in different countries. Or I could fake the entire thing and stay at home? :)

No, I think not. The embassies do not serve the same food as countries do ;)

scuzzwadd1 karma

Which country has the prettiest women in your opinion? Is it Brazil? It's Brazil isn't it.

onceuponasaga1 karma

Yeah, Brazil is a quite fitting answer. But don't underestimate Colombia and a lot of other countries. The Caribbean region has beautiful woman too...actually...the world is a lovely place in terms of beautiful women :)

ReadingHard1 karma

Did you go to Japan if not when? I'm going this summer, but would like some foreiger's viewpoint as opposed to the mass media.

onceuponasaga3 karma

I haven't been yet. I'm about to "conquer" all of Africa now. Then the Middle East and then I will be moving across Asia. So it's still far into the future.

I hear great things about Japan! I think it will be great fun! ;)

hardcore_fish1 karma

Will you be travelling with a potato in your mouth?

onceuponasaga1 karma

I don't need to. I'm Danish. That's already how we speak ;)

dogwatchiscurtailed1 karma

have you gotten seasick yet? what's the longest period you were on a boat?

onceuponasaga3 karma

I was 12 days onboard a container ship going from Iceland to Canada. We had some bad weather but I was used to sailing by then.

I'm usually seasick if I go below deck on small boats. Especially if I haven't been out on the ocean for a while. I got very seasick a few times.

But if I'm well rested and well fed then I normally go free :)

EmbracetheSwine0 karma

Can I come with you?

onceuponasaga5 karma


shiva_bmw-2 karma

Will you be visiting India?

onceuponasaga7 karma

Yes!! And I'm looking forward to it. But first I need to visit all of Africa, the Middle East and half of Asia :)