Interview With Ludovic Hubler – World’s Greatest Hitchhiker?

Ludovic will be speaking at the Road Junky Travel Film Festival in Berlin, May 28-30

Our previous article on Ludovic Hubler remains one of the most popular pages on Road Junky. Ludo spent 5 years hitchhiking around the world, across continents and oceans, deserts and ice, making the rest of us feel like dumb tourists…

RJ: Why did you make this crazy journey? What gave you the idea?

Ludo: Touring the world was before everything a childhood dream. When I was about 8 years old, I was already spending much time looking at maps and learning the capitals of the world. A childhood dream but also a personal challenge and the will to understand better the world around me.

My business school taught me many interesting things but hasn’t taught me anything about the world’s wonders and miseries. The French population stands for about 1% of the world population, what I wanted was to learn about the life of the other 99% and hitchhiking was the best way to do it because of the perpetual contact with local people.

RJ: What is the essence of hitchhiking for you?

Ludo: Hitchhiking has played a great role in my education. When I was around 16 years old, my mum wanted to take me everywhere and my dad kept on asking my mum not to be too protective and to let me hitchhike. From there, I gradually realized how much hitchhiking was a fantastic mean of transportation: a way to be in constant relation with local people, from different social and cultural backgrounds, a way to travel on a reduced budget also.

Hitchhiking to me is a fantastic school of life: a school of persistence, patience, tolerance, open-mindedness, capacity to adapt, diplomacy, resourcefulness… Most of the most important things that I know today, I’ve learned it on the road, thanks to my drivers.

RJ: How did you hitch across the oceans?

Ludo: I hitched boats. Sometimes sailing boats on which I worked as a crew member (washing dishes, peeling potatoes, pulling ropes…). Sometimes on container ships but this is harder nowadays.

RJ: Five years is a big chunk of your life. Were there times when you worried about where your life was going?

Ludo: Five years would be only 5% of my life if I live 100 years. Should I consider that spending 5% of my life trying to understand better the world around me is much? I personally don’t think so.

Traveling changes also your perception of time and of what’s really important in life. When you travel, you step back on your busy life and have much time to think about your life.

I never worried about where my life was going because I was always clear in my mind, always remembering the reasons that pushed me to live and never forgetting that this trip was just a step in my life. I took it like my life PhD, where my teachers where not in a classroom but driving cars, trucks and boats. All had something to teach me.

One important thing was also the fact that I organized different activities during this tour that made a difference and gave more meaning to my journey. That was critical.

RJ: How did you support yourself while on the road?

Ludo: My tour of the world cost me around 25.000 Euros, which means about 5.000 Euros a year. My daily budget was around 10 USD a day. I almost didn’t spend anything for transportation (just urban trips) and almost didn’t spend anything for accommodation. I however had to pay for food, internet connections, visas, clothes, etc.

I left home with about 10.000 Euros, some of it were personal savings, some were given by some partners. During my journey, I also made money giving lectures (especially during a 1 year lecture tour in North America and 6 months in Australia), writing articles, talking on the radio and doing some small jobs here and there. All together, I managed to finance my trip.

Ludo hitchhiking in Antarctica

RJ: How did the journey change you? What did you learn about our planet?

Ludo: A tour of the world changes a man. This tour has had a tremendous impact on my life, repositioning my priorities, helping me to become aware of how fortunate I am to come from little Europe, helping me also to appreciate a lot more the little pleasures of life which I tended to take for granted in the past. I think this tour has made me a better person.

Before I left, my dad suggested me not to live more than 6 months not to be “disconnected from reality”. Today, not only I don’t feel “disconnected to reality” but much more connected to reality : to myself, to the others, to the world and its challenges.

Travelling the world brings you the reality of the planet in your face. You start understanding a lot more the consequences of all your acts and realize how much the world is fragile. This tour has helped me to understand better the huge challenges that humanity will face in the century to come, in terms of water and energy access, biodiversity conservation, relationships between humans, etc. I have become a lot more ecologically conscious.

This trip has also helped me to understand that we are all the same no matter what’s your background, your culture, your religion, your ethnicity. All of us have the same objective to have kids and bring them the best possible future. I like to say that even though I went around the world, I have the impression that I have been on the moon and that from now, I am able to see the planet from a distance, realizing that borders are not natural.

RJ: What comes after a journey like that? How did you restart your life?

Ludo: This tour was for me a logical step in my life between the end of my studies and the start of my professional career. Once it was finished, I wrote a book and turned the page to concentrate on a new life. I now just got married with a woman I met during my trip and found a very interesting job that help me to keep on traveling while still having a stable life.

I now work for the International organization Peace and Sport, which objective is to promote peace through sport. It is based in Monaco, under the High-Patronage of SAS the Prince Albert, with projects in post-conflicts areas.

My life is everything but boring. My tour has made my life more interesting. I am now able to understand better what’s around me and to relate better to my environment.

Come and see Ludo live at the Road Junky Travel Film Festival in Berlin, along with a whole cast of other crazy travelers..