Sure, you could fly around the world in an airplane or balloon. You could sail across it by boat. You can even drive across large chunks of the planet and transport your car across the oceans.
But what about walking around the world?
Shocking as it may seem, many people have embarked on such a journey, and thus have seen the world from a very unique point of view. Traveling through dozens of countries and tons of cities and towns offers a perspective that other methods of transportation simply can’t provide.
Here are 10 brave, adventurous people who have walked across the world, including several Guinness Book World Record holders. They all have their different reasons for the voyage, such as for raising money for charities or promoting their religion, but they all have accomplished a similar goal—to take a walk in the longest and most amazing way possible.
Arthur Blessitt began his walk across the world on December 25, 1969 in Hollywood, California. He has since walked far and long enough to earn him the Guinness Book World Record for walking around the world, having travelled 40,698 miles through 323 countries, island groups, and territories over the past 45 years.
What’s perhaps most interesting about Blessitt’s walk, besides being the longest walk in verifiable, recorded history, is that he has carried a cross throughout it all and continues the journey to this day, generally for about one month each year. His reasoning? “Jesus did it,” he says. “All Glory to God!” This religious aspect of his walk shows through photos and stories recorded around the world.
Gary “Walkingman” Hause
As of October 2013, Gary “Walkingman” Hause has walked 25,467 miles across the U.S., UK, Europe, Mexico, Central America, South America, Australia and New Zealand, and he has another 14,000 more miles planned to walk across Asia, Africa and South America. He plans to break the Guinness Book World Record for walking around the world, though he needs to catch up to Blessitt to do so.
He began his journey in 1997 and has spent the last 17 years walking and chronicling his journey throughout the world. He currently walks with a three-wheel baby stroller filled with all of his necessities, and he writes an article every three weeks about his journey on his iPad, complete with photos.
An adventurer, lecturer and world traveler, George Meegan holds eight world records, the highest number of records held by any other European, including one for “The Longest Unbroken March of All Time.”
Chronicled in his book, The Longest Walk, which has gone on to be a resounding success for Meegan, his adventure began in Tierra Del Fuego, the southernmost tip of the South American mainland, in Argentina. He then began the long journey north, across the Americas, for 19,019 miles through 14 countries to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, all completed in 2,425 days, or six years and eight months, between 1977 and 1983.
The entire journey was made on foot while traveling alone and without money, so Meegan ended up meeting extraordinary people along the way who helped him on his travels. The journey took an estimated 31 million steps. Along the way he also traveled sporadically with his new wife, Yoshiko Matsumoto, who he married along the journey and ended up having two children with before he finished the route.
75,000 km. 11 years. 64 countries. A walk across the globe alone with a three-wheeled stroller that held some food, clothing, a First Aid kit, a small tent and a sleeping bag. All of this was in the name of a World Wide Walk for Peace and Children, meant to promote “Peace and non-violence for the profit of the children of the world.” That was the globetrotter Jean Béliveau’s journey from 2000 to 2011.
Beginning in the U.S., Béliveau traveled through Central America and South America before then hopping across the Atlantic to South Africa. He walked throughout Africa and into Western Europe, traveling then through Eastern Europe and into and across the vastness of Asia. He made his way through Southeast Asia to Australia and New Zealand and then jumped back to Canada to finish the route.
Over the 11 years, he didn’t walk continuously, but instead went out for international walks for a few days, weeks or months out of the year. After 11 years of doing this, he had traveled 75,543 km and seen a large number of countries throughout the world, all in support of the United Nations proclamation: 2001-2010 – International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World.
Harry Lee McGinnis
Harry Lee McGinnis, known as Hawk, began his journey in Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1992 and continued his journey around the world until March 2008, during which he had walked through 66 countries. And what’s perhaps most impressive is McGinnis’ age. When he finished in 2008, McGinnis was 80 years old. Despite this, he planned to continue his journey as well.
His first walk began in 1983, when he walked for four years across the United States, including through all 50 states. He’s since walked through Asia, Africa, and South America, carrying only a 100-pound backpack and steel-tipped walking staff.
Known worldwide as the “Worldwalker,” Steven Newman was featured in the 1988 Guinness Book of Records for having been the only American to walk around the world at that time. The freelance journalist traveled 15,509 miles across 21 countries on five continents in a matter of four years between 1983 and 1987. During that time, his journey was chronicled in media across the world for more than a million newspaper readers.
Since his worldwide trek, Newman has also walked solo across the entire length of Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. In addition, he hiked 900 miles past 88 Buddhist temples along the rugged Henro Pilgrimage path on Shikoku Island in Japan.
His travels have earned him still more media features over the weekend, including being a guest on more than 100 television and radio talk shows and being the subject of feature-length articles in major newspapers and magazines, such as People Magazine, The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and more. He has also been a speaker or keynoter for more than 2,000 organizations, from schools to Fortune 500 companies.
Ffyona Campbell set out on a global trek at the young age of 16, becoming the first woman to go around the world on foot. Her 19,586-mile journey lasted 11 years as she travelled through Europe, Australia, the United States and Africa. Part of her journey, the 3,200 miles between Sydney and Perth, took her only 95 days, which beat the existing men’s record in 1988. During this journey she received sponsorships and raised money for charitable causes.
She hit a few rough patches in Africa, including being stoned by hostile villagers and having to be rescued by French Foreign Legion troops from political unrest in Zaire. But all in all she notes the generosity and kindness of supporters who helped to take care of her along the way.
She chronicled her story in the book, The Whole Story: A Walk Around the World.
On June 20, 1970, Dave Kunst and his brother John set out walking east from Waseca, Minn., with nothing but a pack mule named Willie Makeit. Four years later, on October 5, 1974, Dave Kunst returned to Waseca and officially became the first person verified to have walked across the land mass of the earth, having crossed four continents and 13 countries. Unfortunately, John Kunst did not make it, as he was shot and killed by bandits when the pair were halfway through their journey in Afghanistan in October 1972.
Kunst’s journey took four years, three months and 16 days, during which time he walked 14,450 miles and a total of 20 million steps, wearing out 21 pairs of shoes in the process. He thus became known as The Earthwalker.
Another interesting fact: Kunst carried a plastic scroll with him on his travels to document his walk. In each city and town he visited and spent the night, he had the mayor stamp and sign the scroll. When he returned to Waseca in 1974, he was carrying six 1” by 5” scroll sheets that were filled with stamps and signatures from leaders from around the world. More stories about his long journey can be found on his website.
Karl Bushby has embarked on a journey on foot around the world known as 3,000—an adventure covering 3,000 miles from Los Angeles to the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., where he then hopes to talk the Russian government into giving him the visa he needs to continue his journey—the longest continuous walk in human history.
His walk began on November 1, 1998, when he began walking from the southern tip of South America at Punta Arenas, Chile, with nothing more than The Beast, a makeshift trolley containing all of his possessions, and $300. He trekked across the entire length of South and North America, was the first person recorded to cross the Bering Strait on foot and then continued his journey 2,000 miles into Siberia.
With his Russian visa, he would then be able to finish the rest of his journey across Asia and Europe to England (he grew up in Hull, Yorkshire in England). He has already walked more than 20,000 miles out of the 36,000 miles planned over the past 15 years. You can follow his travels on a map on his website.
Swiss mountain guide, helicopter pilot, and all-around adventurer Evelyne Binsack has gone above and beyond in her pursuits of conquering the outdoors and has become an accomplished author and public speaker in the process. Traversing the world by foot is just one of her many achievements.
Out of school, she initially pursued a sporting career as a professional middle-distance runner. But upon experiencing the camaraderie of mountain sports, she decided that she preferred how climbers worked hand-in-hand with nature over the competitiveness of running, and she never looked back.
In just a few years, Binsack became one of the first European women to qualify as a mountain guide and accomplish all of the fabled climbs in the Alps, followed not long after by treks to the highest peaks in the Himalayas, the Karakoram, the Andes and in Patagonia. In 2001, she became the first Swiss woman to climb Mount Everest.
In “Expedition Antarctica,” Binsack documented her global trek—484 days traveling the entire land mass from Switzerland to the South Pole by foot, bicycle, skis and on a sled.