New book documents an Irishman’s 25,000 km journey from Argentina to the Arctic

IB4UD interviewed Irish author Thomas Kearney on the release of his new book, Thumbs Up: A Hitchhiking Irishman and 25,000 Kilometres from Patagonia to the Arctic.

Belfast-born Thomas Kearney has released a new book documenting his 25,000 km (15,500 miles) journey from Argentina to the Arctic.

Telling a tale of self-discovery, this unforgettable travel journal documents the ups and downs of life on the road.

From touching encounters with strangers to hilarious mishaps, beautiful landscapes to life-threatening experiences, Kearney reveals all in his new book.

We caught up with him about the release of Thumbs Up: A Hitchhiking Irishman and 25,000 Kilometres from Patagonia to the Arctic.

An inspiring travel memoir – an arduous journey

The inspiring memoir tells the story of an arduous journey.
Credit: Thomas Kearney

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, 28-year-old Kearney currently lives in Berlin teaching English as a foreign language.

We asked what inspired him to make the trip he details in his new book. The Irishman explained, “Something clicked in my brain around the time when I started university.

“I’d been thinking a lot about close family members who had died at a young age. I became obsessed with the idea that we shouldn’t squander the thin slice of time that we have on planet earth.”

He continued, “I decided to start taking risks and to throw myself out there and dive headfirst into the unknown.

“I was also in search of myself. I wanted to meet people and see places, expand my comfort zone, and form clearer ideas about the world instead of simply learning about it through books.”

Preparing for the adventure of a lifetime – discovering the world for himself

The Irishman released his new book detailing his adventures.
Credit: Thomas Kearney

Inspired by books and movies, including Into the Wild and The Motorcycle Diaries, the Irishman knew he had to discover the world outside for himself.

To prepare for his big adventure, Kearney took shorter trips, including cycling the length of Ireland from Cork to Donegal.

He explained, “The idea of travelling unconventionally like this appealed to me not only because I could do it on less money. But, more importantly, because I got to see the reality of life in many countries that is often hidden from those on the tourist trail.”

A tell-all memoir – inspiring wanderlust

The tell-all memoir is sure to inspire wanderlust.
Credit: Thomas Kearney

The Irishman reveals all the gritty details of his journey from Argentina to the Arctic in his new book. Details include where his favourite and least favourite spots were along the way.

He revealed El Salvador to be his least favourite destination, the reason for which is revealed in his book. “Let’s just say, I, and some friends, saw some things there that no one ever wants to see,” he said.

On the flip-side, he revealed Chile as his favourite.

“That amazingly narrow and long country squished between the Andes and the Pacific with its snowy mountains and crystal lakes in the south and its extensive deserts, volcanoes, flamingos, and Mars-like landscapes in the north blew my mind away.”

Getting it down on paper – the release of the book

Irishman Thomas Kearney releases a new book about travelling from Chile to the Arctic.
Credit: Thomas Kearney

When asked why he felt the need to share his experiences in his new book, Kearney said there were three reasons.

First, he said, “People kept telling me I should write a book. Second, I realised that people have written about cycling the Americas and driving the Americas but never about hitchhiking from Argentine Patagonia to the Arctic Ocean.

“Third, my girlfriend got sick of me repeating my stories to her a thousand times. She finally told me to write them all down instead to give her head some peace.

So, that day, on a long-distance train through the plains of Kazakhstan, I wrote ‘write the book’ on my to-do list, and pretty much everything on that list gets done sooner or later.”

The future – enough travelling for now

Belfast-born Thomas Kearney now lives with his partner in Berlin.
Credit: Thomas Kearney

Kearney revealed that following the trip and the release of his new book, he’s finally ready to settle down. He now lives with his partner in Berlin, where he wants to focus on studying, teaching, and maybe starting a family.

To repay the kindness shown to him during his travels, the Irishman also wants to welcome other travellers into his own home.

The prospect of another book is also on the cards. He explained, “I love the idea of eventually teaching English as a foreign language to refugees or other vulnerable people. And maybe, just maybe, I’ve got another book in me.”

Where to buy the book – read about the Irishman’s adventures from Argentina to the Arctic

Irishman releases new book about his travels across the Americas.
Credit: Thomas Kearney

Thumbs Up: A Hitchhiking Irishman and 25,000 Kilometres from Patagonia to the Arctic is available in paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon.

Due to complications with Brexit, residents in the Republic of Ireland must use Amazon’s French, Spanish, or German websites to buy a paperback version.

Alternatively, you can order the book on the Book Depository website, where you get free delivery.

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