Tom Turcich is on a very long walk. So far, he’s spent 472 days traversing 6,300 miles across 11 countries — and he’s not anywhere close to finished.
Turcich, 27, felt the urge to explore the world after a close friend died at age 17.
“Her death reordered my understanding of the world,” he recently wrote on Reddit. “I suddenly saw life as something fragile and fleeting. I needed to make the most of the short time I had.”
That’s when he decided he would someday walk across all seven continents. Turcich spent the next few years completing college and working to save money. Finally, in April 2015, he quit his job as a solar panel installer, gathered his gear, and set out on foot from his home in New Jersey. He began documenting his travels on Facebook and Instagram — and he even picked up a furry companion along the way.
Turcich spoke with INSIDER about what life is like on the road. Here’s what he had to say.
Their route touches all seven continents -- yes, even Antarctica. If all goes according to plan, the trip will take five years.
Turcich began in New Jersey and walked south through the United States, Mexico, and Central America. Right now, he's in South America. Next, he'll take a boat to Antarctica, then fly to Europe. From there he'll move west through Africa and Asia, fly to Australia, walk its width, then fly back to the US over the Pacific. The final stretch of walking will take him from the West Coast back home to New Jersey.
Last week -- more than a year after he made the first step of his journey -- Turcich crossed the border from Ecuador to Peru.
Turcich adopted Savannah from an animal shelter back when he was walking through Texas. At first, he wanted a dog for protection. But they soon became inseparable companions.
'After spending nearly every minute of every day with her, she's definitely my best bud,' he told INSIDER in an email. 'She walks every mile with me and always has energy left over at the end of the day.'
Crossing borders with a dog has been surprisingly simple. Turcich got Savannah an International Certificate of Health from a vet in the US, and carries proof of rabies vaccination, too.
Right now, Turcich walks 24 miles and burns 5,000 calories every day. Good thing there are plenty of local delicacies to try (like these handmade tortillas in Nicaragua).
It took a while for his body to adjust to a walking lifestyle. 'When I started I was walking fifteen miles a day and my legs were throbbing and cramping,' he wrote on Reddit. 'Now I'll do thirty miles some days and with stretching at night I'm good to go the next day.'
'Now I don't even feel the first fifteen miles I walk every day,' he continued. 'Then during the second half of the day I know I only have a few miles left and that pulls me through.'
Guatemala's mountains have proved the biggest challenge so far. 'They were so brutally steep. I could only manage about ten miles a day,' he said. 'The climbs paid off, though. Guatemala is spectacular.'
He pushes all his gear in this baby stroller, even through mountainous terrain. Using the stroller -- as opposed to lugging everything in a backpack -- lessens the physical toll on his body.
Turcich carries basic camping supplies like this tent and a sleeping bag. He charges his phone using portable solar panels.
He also has a friend who periodically ships him new pairs of Brooks sneakers. Each pair lasts about 500 miles.
And he takes a break indoors when he can. Sometimes that means a sitting in a humble laundromat in Georgia.
'I'm amazed by how generous people are,' he wrote on Reddit. 'I'm brought in by strangers far more often than I ever imagined.'
'I'll mention I walked from the States and most people assume I'm getting my Spanish words mixed up,' he said. 'Most people are confounded but (they) take to the idea once they understand it.'
So far, Turcich said, no sight has compared to Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. 'I crested a mountain and saw the lake for the first time from above. I whooped and hollered it was so beautiful,' he said. 'I've never been in awe like that before.'
Turcich hopes to work as writer or photographer once his walk ends. 'Before the walk I never took photographs, but during the walk I've had to take at least a few every day,' he said. 'I've come to love the art form.'
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