“I had finished university and broken up“ – was how Stefan Korn began his story about hitchhiking around the world. A 22-month trip followed which took in, among other destinations, Uruguay, Alaska, Hong Kong and New York. He covered 108,895 kilometres, the equivalent of rounding the globe more than two-and-a-half times. Most of the time he hitchhiked, but he also took a sailing boat across the Atlantic, cycled across the Cordillera, and hopped trains across the United States. One of the things that initially was at least as important as achieving deep insights and self-fulfilment was the urge to leave his stickers behind at places along the way. “I wanted to be the toughest hitchhiker on the planet“, he admits. Listeners conclude that he probably fulfilled that goal, in hindsight with self-irony. In the end he realised that “distances are relative and I can travel anywhere I want, something for which I am grateful.”
The trip has also produced a book. Korn now no longer hitchhikes just for fun, but as a sport. There are even hitchhikers’ clubs and associations and, taking inspiration from Russia, he founded the German Sports Hitchhikers Association, whose members can be recognised by their yellow outfit.