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by by Jane Allen | March 10, 2009


Does your career change feel like the impossible dream? Most career changers hum that tune (if not before they start, then at some point in the process). So many obstacles ... which way to turn?

Ludovic Hubler had an "impossible" dream. He wanted to hitchhike around the world and didn't have much money. He decided to do it on $10 a day (or less) without paying a cent for transportation. And, yes, that included hitching rides across oceans. How does your impossible dream stack up against that one?!

Hubler left his home in France in January 2003. Two months later, he was in Senegal. He persuaded an airline to give him a free ride to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. Then it took him another two months to find a boat that would take him to Brazil. Already, he had traveled 3,500 miles and been thrown in jail (for 15 minutes) because he didn't have the proper papers.

As I read through his online journal, I saw entries that apply to anyone who is contemplating (or actively pursuing) a major career change. (His journal notes are available in English and are reproduced here with a few corrections for clarity.)

Dream big dreams

"About two years ago, I was still living in Texas. I [made] the crazy decision to start my tour of the world [through a] hitchhiking project. Since then, how many nights have I spent rolling in my bed wondering if I was [making] the right decision, if this dream was not unrealistic, if it was wise to start such an adventure especially since I live a comfortable and happy life here in Strasbourg (France). So many questions and one answer, which can be summarized in one French quotation from Dominique Glocheux, Wisdom is about having big enough dreams so that one doesn't lose sight of them in one's quest for these dreams."

Don't wait for the ideal time

"The international context maybe [is] not currently the best to start such an adventure but will it be better someday? Should I wait for having peace everywhere on earth to leave? No, I don't think so. I have only one life and no time to wait to realize my dream."

Fear is part of the package

"Many people ask me if I'm afraid to start this adventure. To be honest, I'm freaking out but how could I not be afraid before starting a 100,000-km (about 60,000 miles) journey by hitchhiking ..."

Embrace the unknown

"This journey is very important to me because it's my childhood dream. Since I was very young I've been reading [atlases] and world maps telling myself that one day or another, I will do the tour of the world. As a means of transportation, I've chosen hitchhiking, which is, to my mind, the best way to meet people. Except my studies and my education, hitchhiking has been for me, through the 40,000 kilometers traveled around Europe, a real living school where all the drivers had a lot to teach me. The other thing I like with hitchhiking is the unknown. I really enjoy not knowing what's gonna happen in the next 10 minutes."

Expect the unexpected

A couple planning to sail from the Canary Islands to Brazil agreed to give Hubler a ride. He was to wash dishes and help with the boat in return for his passage. It sounded perfect.

"This program sounded great but the reality was a lot different: the couple broke up, the woman [had] a nervous breakdown and the boat hitchhiker that I am had to play the psychologist-mediator trying to be as neutral and as discrete as possible. After 15 days, we were still in the Canary Islands, the woman decided to leave the boat, which changed all the travel plans, they finally dropped me off in Tenerife and I had to hitchhike back to Las Palmas to start everything again. Three weeks 'lost'!"

Be persistent and creative

Hitchhiking to Antarctica was not part of the plan originally, but Hubler decided to give it a try.

"...I contacted, via e-mail and telephone, the 28 ship owners who have boats leaving to Antarctica one after the other (captains of the boats usually cannot make any decision regarding passengers. Meanwhile, the ship owners, who are the only ones able to decide, are usually based in the U.S., Europe or Australia). I not only offered to work on the boat but also to translate their web site into French, to put their logo on my web site ... to film the cruise in order to give images to the director of the company and to write a report giving my personal point of view on the cruise. The negative answers were numerous during the three weeks spent in Ushuaoa (where I was also working as a waiter in a seafood restaurant) but perseverance always pays off in the end. I finally found a boat to reach the seventh continent. The tasks I had to do onboard were washing the dishes, cleaning the floor, peeling potatoes and cutting bread. Nothing very intellectual but a job that took me to the paradise... a fantastic, marvelous, extraordinary paradise...."

Take the big step

"From dreams to reality, that's only a step ... but how big it is for most of us! Some envision the way they want their lives to be, me, I've decided to fulfill my dream ..."

As of April 23, 2005, Hubler was in Chicago, Illinois and had traveled 50,000 kilometers. His journal, a map tracking his journey and gorgeous photos are on his web site .


Filed Under: Job Search

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