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The man who walked around the world: Tom Turcich on his seven-year search for the meaning of life

By Simon Hattenstone

11 Apr 2023 · 19 min read

Editor's Note

When Tom Turcich's life was upended at 17, he decided to make the most of life by embarking on an extraordinary journey to traverse the globe on foot. A fascinating long read by The Guardian.

At the age of 17, Tom Turcich had enjoyed a good life so far. He had wonderful parents, great friends, did well at school and was a gifted sportsman. But two things gnawed away at him: he thought he was too timid, and he was terrified of death. As a little boy, he would run down the stairs at night to check that his parents were still alive. At the age of 11, he’d lie in bed trying to simulate death so he could prepare for it. “I’d lose the sensation of my body,” he says, “and I would cover my ears and close my eyes so I couldn’t see and couldn’t hear, and I’d try to imagine what death was like. But then you can’t because you’re thinking. And there’s no thinking in death.”

Then, in 2006, his life was turned on its head. Turcich remembers every detail. He was in a car with three friends – Nick, Kevin and Fitz. Kevin was driving his father’s convertible. Back then, the boys used to hang out with a group of girls who were in the year below at school in Haddon Township, New Jersey. There was Shannon who was going out with Kevin, Ann Marie, Amanda and Jess. They’d grown up together, been friends since they were seven or eight, and they were as close as close can be.

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