Tom Turcich walks 21 miles a day. Sometimes more; never less. For the past two years, Tom has been on a quest of Forrest Gump proportions: a walk around the world, tracing a path through all seven continents. He has three more years to go.
Since he first stepped out of his New Jersey home in 2015, Turcich has been all over the American South and South America; currently, he is kicking up his feet in Montevideo, Uruguay. We caught up with him to extract the knowledge he’s gained so far on his epic pilgrimage — and to find out what the hell’s up with that baby carriage he’s pushing.
Basically, I took Karl Bushby’s route from the bottom of South America up to Alaska, and then I took this other guy’s route who had walked around the world in the ‘70s, and then basically combined them so I would hit all seven continents. I saw that some long-term walkers used a cart — a baby carriage or something to push their things so their back wouldn’t be destroyed over so many years.
I got a bike trailer and was planning on hitching that to my belt or something, and then I went to this local maker’s space right by my house, looking to see if anyone could modify an aluminum arm. I ended up meeting the owner; he and I became good friends. He said bike trailers aren’t such a good idea, and that he’d build me a custom cart, get me some sponsors, get me in the newspaper. That was all perfect, because it’s not really my personality to go talking about myself. He built the cart and got me my first sponsor: Wildfire Radio. They helped me with my website and things like that. And then we had a press conference, there were some news articles; I was on Fox and stuff like that. That got me my main sponsor, Philadelphia Sign. That set me up for long-term travel.
Then someone in my Speech Communications class put on Dead Poets Society. I was like, “Oh, that’s it! Carpe diem.” So that became my mantra, and I was trying to live it out, and toward the end of the year, I was looking for ways to travel cheaply. I googled something along the lines of “walk the world,” and I discovered Karl Bushby and others who had walked around the world, and it just stuck in my head. Then it was seven or eight years of planning and trying to make it happen.
Philadelphia Sign, my primary sponsor, said they’d donate one dollar per mile walked to [AnneMarie’s] scholarship fund. Her death, now, is something far off — more of an idea than anything else. But she was the catalyst. I wouldn’t say I’m doing the walk for her — I’m doing it because of her passing.
It was really, really solitary, and when I was in it, my mind was just so blank. It took on the shape of the landscape, and one day would bleed into the next.
From here, the plan is to go over to Ireland, then possibly up to Scotland; walk down to England and mainland Europe, probably walk over to Germany and then down across France and Spain; cross the Strait of Gibraltar and then do Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia; then back up to Italy, over to Croatia, then probably walk up to Poland; then it’ll be over into Russia and Kazakhstan, Mongolia and into China a little bit, and then across Australia — I’ll be doing a long walk in Australia, I don’t know all the details yet; and then the last leg will be from California to back home. A six-month-long victory lap in the U.S.
But every place has its effect on me. Colombia was incredible. I’ll definitely be going back. In Peru and Chile, I was in the desert for, like, four months. That really affected me. I hit a town maybe once every three days. It was really, really solitary, and when I was in it, my mind was just so blank. It took on the shape of the landscape, and one day would bleed into the next. At night, there’d be millions of stars overhead. It was pretty intense.
Beyond that, it’s the truest way to get to know a country. I passed through these little towns where they haven’t seen a white guy maybe ever. I remember walking through Mexico and I didn’t see another white person for four months. Then I got to Lake Atitlán in Guatemala, and all of the sudden I’m in this town with all these gringos, and I couldn’t relate to them. You’re much, much more immersed, versus just bouncing from destination to destination.
From my perspective, when I arrive at these “destination” areas, the travelers there are getting this modified version of what the country is actually like. They’re getting the Americanized version. Whereas if you’re out there in the jungles of Colombia, and you find this little restaurant, you’re getting the real thing.
Tom Turcich’s World-Walking Essentials
Cascadia 12 Trail Running Shoes by Brooks $130
“Since I’m mostly just walking on roads, I don’t need any serious support like hiking boots. I’m not stepping on weird angles. I just wear sneakers, and they usually last about a month or so — 600 or 700 miles.”
Cougar One-Child Carrier by Thule $483
“It’s this hyper-engineered baby carriage with insane suspension. I could easily push a hundred pounds and it’d handle it, no problem. Really, it’s the only option if you’re going to go long-term walking. You could do it with a backpack, but to bring enough gear to live comfortably and to not destroy your back, you gotta have the baby carriage.”
Metal Vent Tech Short Sleeve by Lululemon $68
“It has silver thread in it, so it doesn’t smell. That’s actually super important, because if you’re wearing synthetic, it ends up smelling really bad. If you’re wearing cotton, it gets hot and heavy and uncomfortable.”
UltaMid 2 by Hyperlite Mountain Gear $715
“Until Argentina, I was using a Hyperlite Mountain Gear tent. I had that for almost two years, and it was amazing. I’d love to get another one. But I switched it up to an MSR Hubba NX.”
Project Fi by Google Learn More
“I’d recommend Project Fi a thousand times over. It’s the greatest thing ever. The service is fantastic.”