Life Video

By Joe McFarlane


An open-minded hitchhiker has spent 10 years travelling around the world in more than 2000 cars and two ice cream vans with strangers.

Free spirited Mathias Risberg may have been born in the small and quaint town of Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, but the adventurer has managed to see more of the globe in his 29 years than most people will ever see in their life-time.

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When he turned 18, the wanderlust wanderer set out and has been to countries as far and wide as Guatemala, Pakistan, Iran and El Salvador.

Mathias has travelled in 2,028 cars, 410 trucks, 180 buses, 125 taxis, and two ice-cream trucks later and Mathias has lived a life with absolutely no regrets.

Mathias said: “I have stayed in everything from hammocks and beaches to mansions in Guatemala.

“I once stayed in a cheese factory in El Salvador and a police station in Pakistan and everywhere else in between.”

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“I love the freedom, the new friendships, the quality dialogues about important life issues that you can get while riding in a car.

“I love the realness of deep trust that can be formed in a short amount of time. It makes a special energy of vulnerability possible.”

Mathias’s free road trips began from a young age, when the care-free wanderer used to hitch rides back home from school.

But after being warned of the dangers and perils of living life at the side of the road by school teachers, the young Mathias was perturbed from trusting strangers for six whole years.

Mathias said: “People told me I couldn’t trust strangers, but it was strangers who were telling me this.

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“So, at the age of 18 I made a conscious decision to see the negative concept of hitchhiking as more of a myth than a truth.”

The vulnerability of hitchhiking has become all too real at times over the years as well for Mathias, having been robbed at knife-point and having all his possessions taken by thieves.

But for Mathias the good experiences have outweighed the bad, with his memories of music jams and house parties being stand-outs as well as the diverse array of random locations that he has called home. 

The optimistic free-spirit believes the worst part of hitchhiking is not even the danger he has faced every day, but rather people’s ignorance of his life-style.

Mathias said: “When you don’t get picked up, you usually have to sleep outside.”

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“When people are driven by fears of the distrust of strangers, this means that they don’t have that connection with you and therefore don’t want to pick you up.”

When Mathias arrives in a new country, the modern-day vagabond uses a variety of unique ways of making money and getting by.

From gruelling farm work, to sensual massages, to old-school trading, to making big bubbles and even by his other true love, playing music.

Mathias also hosts a ‘hitchhiking school’, in which he takes young, budding globe-trotters under his wing and teaches them the rules of the road.

Mathias said: “In order to get drivers to pick you up, you have to dress good, have a guitar and maybe even sing for them.

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“But ultimately, it’s all about being patient, having good social skills in order to read people and have a good sense of humour.”

But having discovered every crook and cranny of the globe, Mathias can still easily pin-point his favourite destination.

Mathias said: “My favourite location would be Iran mainly because of the warmness and how nice the people are.

“It is my biggest dream to cross the Atlantic in my caravan and travel onward to Hollywood.”