Only a small percentage of people attempt to walk around the world, and even fewer succeed.
Tom Turcich, a New Jersey resident, became the tenth person to accomplish this remarkable feat on May 21, 2022. His four-legged companion Savannah became the first dog to accomplish this feat.
Numerous of Turcich’s loved ones and well-wishers attended a massive homecoming celebration for the couple.
The victorious second achieved the finish of a seven-year, 48,000-kilometer (29,826-mile) venture that he’d spent significantly longer pursuing.
Turcich tells CNN Travel from his parent’s house in Haddon Township, “It was very surreal.” I had been imagining the ending for a very long time. Additionally, there were others walking with me along the streets when it occurred.
“Relief was the primary emotion. It was amazing to finally be able to sort of put this behind me after it had dominated my life for 15 years.”
The trip was inspired by the tragic death of his long-time friend Ann Marie in a jet ski accident in 2006, when she was 17 years old.
He elaborates, “It [her death] was very formative for me.” She was a far superior person than I was. It became clear to me that I would eventually pass away, and that it could happen at any time. And I started looking at everything over again.”
Turcich, who has been contrasted with Forrest Gump, the person Tom Hanks played in the 1994 film, concluded he really wanted travel and experience in his life and started investigating every one of the various ways he could
Subsequent to learning about Steven Newman, recorded by Guinness World Records as the main individual to stroll all over the planet, and strolling swashbuckler Karl Bushby, who has been circumnavigating the globe by walking beginning around 1998, Turcich became set on taking on this challenge himself.
According to him, “It [walking] seemed like the best way to understand the world and be forced into new places.” I really wanted to learn about the world and observe how people lived their daily lives, not just Paris and Machu Picchu.
Turcich began mapping out the route once he had committed to it and attempted to raise funds for his travels.
He figured out how to save to the point of enduring him about two years out and about by working throughout the late spring while he was at school, and moving back in with his folks after he graduated.
However, shortly before his departure, the proprietor of Philadelphia Sign, a local business, learned of his plans and decided to sponsor his trip.
He claims that “he [the businessman] happened to know Ann Marie and her family.” And all he wanted to do was help me in any way he could.”
Turcich started his journey around the world almost nine years after he first came up with the idea.
On April 2, 2015, just before his 26th birthday, he set out in a baby stroller with hiking gear, a sleeping bag, a laptop, a digital SLR camera, and a plastic crate for food storage.
According to Turcich, the two primary goals he had when planning his route were to “hit every continent and travel with as little bureaucratic trouble” as possible.
He claims, “I thought it would be approximately five and a half years.” And the actual walking confirmed that to be fairly accurate.”
Due primarily to two significant delays, the entire journey took seven years. The first occurred when Turcich contracted a bacterial infection, which required him to recover for several months. The second occurred when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.
He had to deal with a lot of highs and lows along the way, like being held at knifepoint in Panama and being invited to local weddings in Turkey (or Türkiye).
Turcich had only visited England, Ireland, and Wales as part of a high school exchange trip before beginning the walk. He had also taken a vacation in Canada and the Dominican Republic.
He also didn’t really know much about hiking, but he had done a 10-day hike with a friend and a few weekend hikes.
He had to walk from New Jersey to Panama in the first part of the journey. Turcich got his walking companion, a puppy named Savannah, from an Austin, Texas, animal shelter about four months in.
Turcich struggled to relax, especially when sleeping at campsites, and would constantly wake up during the night convinced he could “hear something coming,” even though he initially had no intention of getting a dog.
He believed that having a pet companion who could “keep watch” at night would make all the difference, and he was right.
He says of Savannah, “She’s been fantastic.” It’s only ideal to have somebody to impart a few minutes to.”
The pair flew over the Darien Gap, a perilous jungle region between Colombia and Panama, once they arrived in Panama. Turcich created a Patreon account after his first year on the road so that his fans could contribute to his travel expenses.
The majority of the second year was spent walking from Bogota, Colombia, to Montevideo, Uruguay, where they boarded a boat for their trip to Antarctica.
Turcich briefly returned home at this point to acquire the necessary paperwork for Savannah’s trip to Europe.
The two walked across Ireland and Scotland once they got to Europe, but Turcich got too ill to continue, so they had to take a long break.
He says, “I kind of threw in the towel there [in Scotland] and went to London,” explaining that he spent weeks in and out of hospitals in the UK before returning to the United States to recover.
In May 2018, Turcich, who documented his journey on Instagram and his blog The World Walk, resumed the walk in Copenhagen. However, it would be some time before he was mentally and physically back to his normal self.
He provides the following explanation: “You really have to be good company [to yourself] when you’re out walking, and you’re spending all this time alone.”
“Especially when you are constantly exposed to the elements. Therefore, it was not at all enjoyable for me.
Although Turcich acknowledges that he began to doubt his ability to continue, he maintains that he never seriously considered giving up.
He states, “There were certain times when I was just really not in a good place.” I also wondered, “What am I doing out here?” Instead of being with my friends and family, I’m walking through the chilly rain in Germany.
“However, I don’t think I would ever have stopped. Before I even started the walk, I had been contemplating it for eight years. Therefore, giving up after a few years would be insane.”
He didn’t feel “fully remembered” and ready to fully immerse himself in the journey until he walked the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage that includes several routes in Spain, France, and Portugal.
After that, he and Savannah traveled to North Africa, passing through Morocco, Algeria, where he was escorted by police, and Tunisia.
They went on to Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, and Greece from here. They moved on to Turkey after Greece, where Turcich became the first private citizen to be allowed to walk across the Bosphorus Bridge.
They then went to Georgia, which is in the Caucasus Mountains and is between Russia and Turkey. Just as the pandemic started, they went to Azerbaijan, a country that is between Western Asia and Eastern Europe. Because of this, they were ultimately compelled to remain in Azerbaijan for at least six months.
According to Turcich, who had originally intended to travel through Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia before flying to Australia and then returning to the United States, “then it was just kind of waiting until we could get into any of Central Asia.”
Turcich had to cancel plans to visit Kazakhstan and Australia due to the strict travel restrictions that were in place at the time. Mongolia and Australia were both closed to international visitors for approximately two years.
He and Savannah flew to Seattle in August 2021 and began their journey back to New Jersey after walking across Kyrgyzstan, a small Central Asian nation bordering China.
Turcich claims that Wyoming, the US state with the fewest people, was the most challenging of all the places he visited during the journey.
He recalls how he and Savannah walked for an entire weekend without seeing a store or even a person before finding a tiny gas station. “It’s desolate out there,” he says.
“I was completely taken aback by that. I returned to the United States thinking, “I’m back home.” It is so advanced. It’s easy to do this.’ However, I could just as easily have been in Peru or Chile’s deserts.”
During their reality walk , the pair strolled across six landmasses and 38 nations together, going through most evenings setting up camp.
Turcich surpassed Guinness World Records’ requirement of traveling 18,000 miles (about 30,000 kilometers) and crossing four continents for a circumnavigation on foot.
He and Savannah walked anywhere from 18 to 24 miles (around 29 to 38 kilometers) per day on average.
He says, “The thing about Savannah was that she always had so much more energy than I did.” She has only ever known this—traveling from country to country by foot.
“She would come over with a stick and want to play at times when we were going through the desert, and I would collapse at the end of the day.”
Turcich was more eager than ever to complete the long journey and return to normal life once they were safely back in the United States.
He asserts, “Seven years is a long time.” I couldn’t wait to return once the end was in sight. I just wanted to be back with my friends and family and not have to pack up my tent every morning.”
While Turcich emphasizes that he does not wish to speak on their behalf, he would like to believe that his voyage and the attention it has received may have contributed in some small way. His late friend Ann Marie’s family were among those present to greet him at his homecoming celebration.
He asserts, “I wasn’t necessarily doing it for Ann Marie.” However, she was the impetus and the motivation behind it.
“Her passing really motivated me to live.” And when the walk was over and I was with her family, it felt like they had some closure as well.”
Turcich is enjoying spending time with his family and friends now that he is back in his hometown, as well as with his girlfriend, whom he met during the trip’s final leg.
Turcich has no intention of taking Savannah with him at some point, despite the fact that he would love to travel to Mongolia, one of the places he was unable to due to the restrictions imposed by Covid-19.
He asserts, “She [Savannah] doesn’t care about Mongolia, and the flight is insanely long.” It’s possible that we won’t make it there one day.
For the present, he’s centered around composing a journal about his journey, while Savannah is acclimating to being in one spot constantly.
He states, “Every morning, my dad takes her for a four-mile (roughly six and a half kilometers) walk around the river.” As a result, it helps her expend some energy. When she gets back, she relaxes on the couch and takes a nap. She appears to be happy here.
Turcich replies that getting back on the road is the farthest thing from his mind when asked if he is itchy. In point of fact, he has no immediate plans to leave.
“I need to appreciate existence without strolling and in any event, voyaging,” he says. ” Right now, I’m so done with it. I just want to be in one place and get used to it.