Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Hey there! I do not mind answering questions. After all the Saga is quite complex and there is much to learn from it. Here is a compilation of some of the most reoccurring questions, which have shown up again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again... ;)
MOST DANGEROUS THING YOU'VE DONE
Probably traffic. But I guess that's not the answer you want ;)
I once found myself in a very dodgy part of Panama City where the residents looked at me with eyes that were screaming: "I can't believe he is here?!" I stayed very cautious and made my way out again. Later on I learned that it was the most dangerous part of the city.
Also I crossed from Venezuela to Trinidad in a small open boat with two strangers and no safety equipment. In hindsight that might not have been super smart. But it went well.
Finally, I was traveling in a taxi on a dirt road in the jungle near the Cameroun/Congo border at 03:00am. 3 men in military uniforms stopped the car to question us. They were very drunk, armed and hostile. I thought that was it. There were no villages nearby and no people. After about 45 minutes they suddenly let both the driver and I go without any reason. We left as fast as possible!!
There was also this one containership which I was onboard when we hit a bad storm! I thought we were in serious trouble!! I couldn't stay in bed without falling out. It was hard to eat. It was impossible to take a shower. The ship was really moving in the waves. I remember being on the bridge with the officers looking at the waves crashing in over the containers!! I quietly asked: "is this normal?" They all laughed at me and someone said: "son, this is NOTHING!" After that I knew they were confident and then I could relax. The storm lasted 4 days.
WHAT IS A COUNTRY? / HOW MANY COUNTRIES ARE YOU GOING TO?
Good questions! A country is a funny size and many of them can be debated. The base for Once Upon a Saga were the countries recognised by UN and we built on top of that. Countries like Taiwan are not listed as a country with the UN (or NATO). The complete list is here (203 countries).
HOW DO YOU INTEND TO GET INSIDE SAUDI ARABIA? (BUSINESS VISA ONLY)
I have good relations with several international companies and often do motivational speaking. As such I believe I will receive an invitation. 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 worthwhile 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 :)
ARE YOU A MILLIONAIRE? HOW CAN YOU PAY? HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The project budget of $20/day covers transport, meals, accommodation and visas. It 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 slightly 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). It was sponsored by Ross Offshore until April 2016. Since then it has been self funded. I also took two loans and sold some of my possesions. We finally ran a crowdfunding campaign which ended in 2017 and generated $20,752: Once Upon A Saga Crowdfunding. There is currently no way of supporting the Saga financially. Although new sponsorships are welcome! :)
CONFLICT ZONES? DANGEROUS COUNTRIES? DANGER?
Time will tell. Making specific plans this far ahead in time makes no sense as things frequently change. Especially within conflict zones.
I will need to do more research and pull on my connections prior to deciding what will provide me with the best experience.
That an entire country is "on fire" is however rare and there are generally safe zones in every country. 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 may benefit me in such situations. Common sense is the best method of action. Generally I don't believe in dangerous countries - only dangerous people ;)
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO TRAVEL ONBOARD A CONTAINERSHIP?
There are some companies that offer passenger service onboard their container carriers. I haven't used them but I have heard it's expensive. So far I've traveled onboard 12 container carriers. 11 of them chose not to charge me due to the nature of the project and the last 1 only asked for $60 + $15/day (insurance and meals).
HOW CAN I TRAVEL ON A CONTAINERSHIP?
Container carriers have no incentive for bringing a passenger onboard unless they've made a business out of it. The days when you could come onboard and work are long gone. These days you need all sorts of permits and whatnot to work on a container ship.
You are a liability to the ship and there is no reason why they should bring you onboard. Most ports are secured to a level, where you cannot access them. And even if you could the Captain would turn you away. You need to go through the shipping company or the owners. And they are likely to never reply to emails and ignore you completely.
Life onboard the ships come down to a few things: work, eat, sleep, recreation. A passenger is an interference to the ship's routine. It's REALLY hard to get onboard in most cases. However it isn't impossible. Try to give them some incentive and never give up.
The three largest companies in the world are: Maersk Line, MSC and CMA-CGM
WHAT CONSTITUTES A VISIT? HOW LONG ARE YOU IN EACH COUNTRY?
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. The project minimum is 24 hours for each country. At this point I have averaged 11 days in each country which would mean 6 years in total to complete the project.
DO YOU GO TO MANY BIG CITIES?
Often I visit the Red Cross headquarters which mostly is found within the capital city. Also trains and busses will often take you to the largest cities and that's also where the embassies are found - so that's a yes although I prefer a more quiet environment and rural areas :)
EBOLA? EBOLA? EBOLA?
Today the Ebola outbreak of the three affected West African countries is over. I did extensive research and based it on facts from WHO, CDC and IFRC before I entered the three countries. I was far more likely to be struck by lightning than to be infected. Being infected is however a serious matter but I really couldn't fathom that it would happen. I was slightly less reluctant to shake hands and more prone to using soap while traveling in the region. If you know what to look for then you're well protected.
HOW DID YOU GET SPONSORED?
All large organisations or movements have webpages that describe how to contact them and that would be your best start. The Red Cross does not sponsor this project. Ross Offshore, Skabertrang/Silkeborg Bogtryk, Berghaus Norway, DB Schenker Denmark and Red Sand Solutions do. Ross Offshore were the first and they called me to a meeting after I told them that I wouldn't be available for them throughout the next four years. I knew them already from my profession within logistics. After the meeting, where I explained what I was planning, they said: "we NEED to be a part of this" :) So it was in a way a coincidence how the Saga found its financial sponsorship. Unfortunately they had to discontinue the financial support in April 2016 after a long run of low oil prices. New sponsorships are welcome! :)
LANGUAGE BARRIERS? HOW MANY LANGUAGES DO YOU SPEAK?
I speak Danish, English and German at a high level. I know a lot of Spanish and French and some Arabic. Using your arms and legs should also be considered a language :)
WHAT MADE YOU DO IT? HOW DID YOU MAKE THE DECISION?
It was an innocent email from my father with a link to a news article which put the idea in my head. I don't think I ever wanted to travel to every country in the world but I've always enjoyed traveling. When I learned that nobody in history had ever visited every country in the world without flying I was intrigued! It was a challenge I had to accept. In any case I never imagined it would be possible to visit every country without being a millionaire or having to spend my entire life doing it. When I realized that it could be done I only had to make up my mind and get out the door :)
WHY NO AIRPLANES? ARE YOU AFRAID OF FLYING?
No one in history has ever gone to every country in the world without setting foot in an airplane. So this is an attempt to push that barrier and inspire people in the process. I think it is very important to push the barriers of the undone as it opens up for new things, new ideas and a different way of looking at life.
Also I do not lose time in airports and security checks. It's cheaper too. Generally I meet far more people in buses and trains and crossing land borders gives me the opportunity to see more of the countries and discover where countries meet.
Finally it's more adventurous :)
DIDN'T GRAHAM HUGHES ALREADY VISIT EVERY COUNTRY WITHOUT FLYING?
When I reached Panama I met Graham Hughes who confirmed that he actually flew on several occasions although he came back to the same location in order to continue his journey. To this I say that you wouldn’t break a marathon into pieces by running 5 km today, 3 tomorrow, 6 the next day and so on.
We also talked about how he arranged for visas while back home, visited 7 countries in 1 day and why he only spent 30 seconds in North Korea but still claims it counts as a visit. This is the “completion element” of the journey. While I respect Graham Hughes as an outstanding adventurer I cannot back his claim of being the first person to visit every country without flying. A flightless journey to every country must be exactly that.
Within Once Upon a Saga it has been decided that the following rules must be observed: 1) minimum 24 hours in each country. 2) absolutely no flights. 3) no return to my home country until the end.
BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD?
I can't say because every country is potentially my favorite. It depends on favorite what? Favorite for low prices, for beaches, for mountains, for museums, for relaxing, for going out etc... Generally I can say that the countries that made the biggest impression on me have been countries where I stayed for a long time or where I got surprised because I expected something else. That list is kind of long too :) But I'll mention San Marino, Andorra, Serbia, Latvia, Iceland, Greenland, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador, Suriname, Venezuela, Trinidad & Tobago, Cuba, Mali, Nigeria, Namibia, the Seychelles and Sudan. It's kind of an unfair question with so many wonderful countries in the world ;)
ANY ADVICE? / I WANT TO TRAVEL THE WORLD?
The best advice I can give you is to stick to the plan and make it happen. So many people find excuses. Once you are out there you should stay positive, open and smile a lot. I guarantee you that it will change your world! Try local food, learn bits and pieces of the local language and use it every chance you get.
Trust people but trust your intuition too. The world is not an entirely safe place although I stand by that the vast majority of everyone you will ever meet are good hearted well meaning people. People are generally more into family, sports, food, the weather, taking selfies, updating Facebook and stuff like that. Much more than anything else.
If you have a smartphone then I suggest you download:
- Xe currency
- Google translate
- Onavo Protect (vpn)
WHEN DID THE PROJECT START?
I left the Kingdom of Denmark in the high north of Europe on October 10th 2013 at 10:10am. So in other words: 10/10 10:10 (2013).