What I have learnt from hitchhiking in Europe

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Two months on the road, multiple cardboards, cars and trucks after, I crossed countries to countries, hitchhiked a full month in Italy, got to learn many people from different places and be friends with some of them. I left home with the smallest budget I had ever had and decided to be homeless for two months in the summer. Luckily, it was a beautiful summer in Europe that you wouldn’t expect for more.

After planning my trip with such a short notice, which was 2 weeks before my travels, I was nervous to tell everyone about my trip.

“It is too dangerous!”, “Are you crazy?”, “Please don’t do that stupid thing”… That was what I got from their responses. It got even worse while I was hitchhiking, like “Be careful because you might get kidnapped then they would kill you and take your organs”. That was not cool to hear at all because you would not feel comfortable moving forward. It was hard! Very hard! I had to handle all the harsh words and the tiredness to move on and to finish my hike. And just so, from one city to another, from Italy to Slovenia, Austria, Slovakia, I hitched with confidence and no fear.

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Have trust on people

I thought of hitchhiking with a goal, not just because I wanted to do something crazy or wanted to be killed. I wanted to learn about people around me and learn to have trust on people.

People aren’t that bad, just think of yourself and what you say about people in general because you are them too. We are all people and we deserve to be trusted. Surely there are bad and good people around the world but you need to give them a chance to be trusted and follow your feeling to know when is right. Hitchhiking requires a lot of trust, not only just from me to drivers, they also need to have trust on you to give you a lift. Your appearance could also cause them danger but who would tell.

Italian men are open about sex

Irony but fact! Most of my time hitchhiking was in Italy and I experienced quite some weird and scary moments there. They wouldn’t mind stopping their cars to ask you if you would want to have sex or even offer you money to be in bed with them. It could be the culture but for female solo travellers from else where, it would be terrifying. The worst case I got was being touched all over while I was in the car and I had no other option rather than asking to get out in the middle of the highway. Funnily, they would still talk to you like nothing had happened. Quite strange, isn’t it?

It is important to be calm instead of acting like a child or being a princess in this situation. Showing that you have no fear over them and react smartly. I would not recommend to be aggressive here because it might arouse some men even more.

Asking is better than waiting

The shortest time I had to wait was 5 minutes, and one hour for the longest. The average time was about 20 minutes. However, this would not be applied to everyone, especially if you are a boy and which track you take. Gas stations are always a good choice because you would have more chances to have closer interaction with people and they are more likely able to see your signs. In some cases, people feel very intimated to see you standing with a puppy face so they either pity you and give you a lift or they try to avoid eye contact and walk as fast as possible. Sometimes you will be dropped off at some off-track roads that it is nearly impossible to get a lift. Therefore, take action works much better. It is hard sometimes to approach strangers and especially to ask for a favour. But if you wait, you might wait for a very long time. Just knock their windows or just approach them friendly, ask if they would go in the direction you are heading to. Short distance than nothing!

It is not dangerous!

It depends how you define danger but it is definitely not dangerous as how your parents or your friends think. The fact that they have never hitchhiked in their lives, they would not know. I am a solo traveller and I am a girl but I returned home safely. I could understand that you might get in some bad situations but again, you need to take precaution and trust your gut as well. The sixth sense needs to be activated here.

It sounds very old-fashion but there are still many hitchhikers out there. You might meet them on the way, or notice them more often after your hitchhiking trip. If it was dangerous, why would people still do it?





16 thoughts on “What I have learnt from hitchhiking in Europe

  1. I hitchhiked myself before in Germany, Ireland and Italy and I completely agree with you. It is not as dangerous as everyone says ( keep in mind these people never hitchhiked in their lives, so they don’t really know what they are talking about) Most people are not out to kill you and yes you do need to be aware of potentially weird people but once you trust your instincts and make calm decisions if something does go wrong you will be absolutely fine. It can be one of the most interesting and rewarding ways to travel.

  2. Sounds like a great experience! I want to interrail around Italy one day but perhaps saving money hitchhiking will be better…? I’m inspired! (Also v prepared to shut down any touchy feely men…)

      • Hahaha good tips! My dad hitchhiked around Italy when he was young and met amazing hospitality, and also someone who wanted to find prostitutes. All kinds of people!

  3. You never know if you don’t try. I’m sure you’re aware of all kinds of possibilities, but your will to travel is stronger than fear, so you attracted the right vibes, the right people.

    • Totally a correct point! I don’t like it when people keep telling me that here is dangerous, there is dangerous but themselves have never been to that place or never experienced it.

  4. This is a great post! Its great to hear hitch-hiking experiences from young women as I have friends who have hitch-hiked but they are men and I have always been wary of doing it myself. I believe the gut instinct is absolutely essential and it’s great to see you commenting on trusting humanity a little more. We need trust more than anything in the current world we live in 🙂

    • Sorry for my late reply since it got lost somehow.
      It might be a bit more dangerous for women than for men. However, we would be put at the same risk somehow. Your gut instinct is capable of telling you what to do right. When you feel you gut telling you something wrong, that’s when I use my head. But most of the time, it worked.
      I do believe that we all deserve to be trusted. It needs a start – you trust A, A feel trusted, A will trust B. You know what I mean?

      • Absolutely! People wont trust you if you dont trust them and you have to start a circle of trust. Whether you’re a man or woman, bad things can happen while traveling but bad things also happen in our every day lives- in a sense each day is a risk! I love your blog!

  5. I hope I can do this in europe someday 🙂 I experienced riding at the back of a strangers motorbike in indonesia.I saw him walking on the street at 3am in the middle of nowhere. He can’t speak english and all he understands is the name of the place I was headed to and I got there without getting harmed. As you said we just have to follow our guts 🙂

    • Wow! Quite an experience though. You must have been really brave since it was 3am. I think in Asia is not so dangerous to hitchhike but it is just not so common. For sure one thing, you can easily do so in Europe

  6. Pingback: How I manage to travel while studying – AngesVoyage

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