Skip to main content
December 19, 2011

All aboard the HugTrainUSA

Ah, a good old friendly hug. Who doesn’t love a hug? A hug makes everything better and is scientifically proven to bring down anxiety, lift you up and put a smile on your face. That’s why we caught up with Arie Moyal to discuss the HugTrainUSA.

via kingmaster

Just over two years ago Arie Moyal started a fantastic initiative called HugTrainUSA to create awareness of mental health through hugs. When we heard about the cause we jumped at the opportunity to find out more (but secretly we just wanted a big hug). We’ll hand you over to Arie for more information about how it all started and how you can take part in this year’s tour.

The Power of a Hug

A simple hug has been found to bring down anxiety. It can lift you up, bring a smile to your face and warmth to your heart. It has no gender or agenda; a hug is a way of saying, “I care about you” and “I connect with you.”  It’s friendlier than a handshake, and much less private than a kiss. A hug is something we can give and receive freely, no matter our age, gender or race.

So at this time of high stress, we are trying in our own small way to spread cheer in the world by handing out a hug or two – or more.

Why was the HugTrainUSA initiative started?

As much as social media is a tool to mobilise populations, it often ends up isolating people from real, human interaction. Beyond mental health awareness, HugTrainUSA has the goal of spreading happiness and good feelings, especially during the holiday season.

The holidays are a tough time for many people – seasonal and situational depression is more common during the holiday season. Many continue working, are unable to travel to reconnect with family and friends, have no one to connect with, or have bad familial relationships. Individuals in these types of situations often get the idea that they don’t matter and/or aren’t wanted. The HugTrainUSA initiative is there to let them know they do matter, and that every life is important.

How did you start HugTrainUSA?

A few years back, I was moving from Montreal to London and decided as a break between my crazy job and my crazy job search I would travel around the US by train. At the time there were plans for a Global Hug Tour, but it fell through due to costs. So I decided to take the Global Hug Tour on and make it more sustainable and local.

‘A hug is something we can give and receive freely, no matter our age, gender or race’.

I only had three weeks before departure, and I wanted to make my plans public. I got some friends to help put up a website, bought a train pass, got a US SIM card and set off. The second night of the Chicago to San Francisco trip we were stranding in the middle of Utah with a broken wheel! To pass the time I ended up doing puzzles in the dark – by phone and MP3 player light – with fellow travellers.

The second year, I was already in London and wasn’t sure if I should do it. However, money and time came together and off I went again.

We’re getting ready to start the 3rd year of HugTrainUSA, and I want to do it properly; so I started planning way in advance! HugTrainUSA 2011-12 is dedicated to the memory of Trey Pennington, a loved social media consultant who battled depression and who took his own life on September 4, 2011. To honour his memory, we are travelling for two weeks across December and January between South Carolina and Florida, finishing up on Sunday 8th January 2012 in Orlando.

Join the HugTrainUSA 2011 Initiative

This year, join the HugTrainUSA initiative in spreading cheer and love; hug those special people in your life – your family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, even pets and let them know how much they mean to you. Follow the HugTrainUSA itinerary and keep track of where we are via Twitter: @HugTrainUSA.  Meet us at the train or ON the train to hug and be hugged!