Globe-Trotting Without Motors: Markus Pukonen’s Inspirational Seven-Year Journey


Key Takeaways

  • Markus Pukonen’s 80,000-kilometer journey across 29 countries emphasized eco-friendly travel using non-motorized modes.
  • Through Routes of Change, he backed small social and environmental causes with donations and advocacy during his expedition.
  • His mission showcased the influence of personal tragedy, stressing individual impact and the value of grassroots efforts.
  • Pukonen’s diverse travel methods demonstrated the viability of sustainable exploration, spanning cycling to sailing.

Spanning 29 countries and 80,000 kilometers, Markus Pukonen, the courageous explorer, adopted non-motorized modes of transport, from walking, cycling, and skiing to sailing.

The concept of this unique journey has been brewing in his mind for some time. Yet, the tragic diagnosis of his father’s acute myeloid leukemia finally catalyzed his decision.

“How can I live my life without regrets?” he said, per a report published in CNN.

Unfortunately, his father passed away six months later, and Pukonen solidified his plan.

Initially intending to document his journey in a film, Pukonen needed more funds. Undeterred, he set off, dedicating five months to physical preparation. Before leaving, he established a non-profit, Routes of Change, to support small social and environmental organizations.

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‘Pretty crazy’ journey

Departing from Toronto on July 13, 2015, Pukonen describes his journey as “pretty crazy.” He cycled across prairie provinces, sailed to Hawaii, rowed to Washington, and paddled to Indonesia, always focusing on non-motorized travel.

Pukonen visited various organizations, including Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation and Clayoquot Action, sharing their narratives during his expedition. Much of his journey has been funded by donations and the goodwill of supporters, including Canadian teashop JagaSilk.

In 2021, Pukonen undertook a 40-day sail from India to the Seychelles. Following this, he visited several countries with his girlfriend, whom he met in India during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Appreciating and giving back

Pukonen continues his journey with excitement, currently making his way through Georgia. He anticipates reaching Toronto for a welcome home party in early July, marking the culmination of his voyage, and plans to write a book and possibly create a unique adventure film.

Looking back, Pukonen marvels at his accomplishments, acknowledging how his father’s death contributed to his decision to undertake this quest.

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However, he underlines that his purpose extends beyond personal memory, aiming to inspire change and acknowledge our capacity to make a difference.

“I’m hoping to change the way we look at the planet…We all influence the world around us in ways that we don’t appreciate every day,” he said.

What We Think

Markus Pukonen’s incredible expedition, fueled by personal tragedy and a quest to live without regrets, showcases the power of resilience and purpose.

His journey not only demonstrated the possibility of traversing the world without motorized transport but also emphasized the importance of supporting grassroots initiatives. Pukonen’s commitment to showcasing local organizations and fostering change serves as an inspiring reminder of our individual potential to impact the world positively.

His mission highlights the significance of recognizing and acting upon our ability to create meaningful change in the world around us.


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