Many of us would gladly take a five-year sabbatical and travel the world, but money (or lack thereof) is usually the reason why these trips never pan out. The travel expenses alone would be a dealbreaker for most people, but not Jeremy Marie, that is. The 29-year-old Frenchman recently completed an international excursion that was, if nothing else, extremely cost-effective.
Marie’s trek began in October 2007. Over the five and a half years that followed, the young man set foot in 71 different countries on five continents, and covered more than 100,000 miles of land and water. Now for the truly remarkable part: he managed to complete the entire journey without spending a single cent on transportation. No small feat, considering he moved by automobile, boat, plane and, at one point, a camel; he estimates that he caught a ride from roughly 1,750 modes of transportation throughout the excursion. World records pending, it’s safe to say Marie is the most successful hitchhiker in history.
His adventure began in Caen, Normandy, not far from where he grew up. He meandered along the Mediterranean coast to Egypt, and then traveled due south to the Cape of Good Hope by way of inland Africa. Next, he hopped a ship, crossed the Atlantic, and touched down in Venezuela. He then followed a fairly exhaustive route that covered most of South, Central, and North America — making it as far north as Fairbanks — before returning to Venezuela by way of Cuba. Following the longest stretch of his journey, a boat ride from Caracas to Auckland, Marie passed through Australia, Southeast Asia, northern China, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe before he reached home.
The trip wasn’t always fun. Marie told Visual News that he was mugged by Venezuelan police just days before he planned to hop a boat for the South Pacific. “Just after that I was supposed to look for a boat that would take me across the Pacific towards Australia,” he said. “I knew that looking for a boat would be very difficult, especially for such a long distance, and I lost a bit of faith in humanity at this moment.”
But he says most of the trip was an enlightening, enjoyable experience. Arguably his favorite spot was Bali; during his visit to the popular Indonesian island, he met a young lady who would eventually become his girlfriend. Marie plans to return to Bali shortly, where he hopes to write a book about his travels.
“The most important advice that I could give to a hitchhiker would be to use their common sense,” he told Visual News. “This is also what is good in hitchhiking, because it makes you think for yourself and it forces you to find solutions to each little problem.”