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?





Hitchhike Journal #13: Bratislava – Budapest |Last track

Bratislava – Budapest
24 August 2016
Distance: 200km
Transportation:   1 car, 1 truck
Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes

Already settled with the family for couple of days but my trip had not yet ended. The last track was there, from Bratislava to Budapest. It could be the toughest trip and surely not because of the hitch track but because my family finally found out what I was doing and they really tried to talk me out to stop me. Trust me, a lot of terrible stories that they told.

My cousin gave a me a lift to a gas station which I knew that it would be difficult to hitchhike because it is close to a shopping mall and still lies inside of the city. As I guessed, I stood there hopelessly. Despite the bad location to hitchhike, people are not very willing to look at my sign and also rejected whenever I came to ask. Somehow I sensed that Slovak people are not very friendly with hitchhikers or simply they was not familiar with it. My cousin was worried so she came and gave me another lift to the highway (now it sounded like I was spoiled).

After 15 minutes waiting, I was offered a ride to the border by a truck driver. Well, it was a long time since I got in a truck since the trip from Zurich to Milan. We were so close to the border but he was stopped by the police because of taking the wrong turn. The border was just in front of me but there was no chance to get out because the police was there and for sure you are not allowed to walk on the highway obviously. It was an hour waste in the truck and despairingly staring at the border in front of me.

Got there in the end, I was facing the most windy weather of my entire trip. I tried to hold on to my fragile paper sign. I thought that it would be easy to get a ride from here, however, it was just a thought. In fact, everyone wouldn’t trust you if you wanted to have lift at the border and with my foreign look, I could imagine that they thought I was suspicious. I got out of there with a Slovak policeman who was heading to Romania.

So it had marked my last kilometre of my hitchhiking trip.
2920km through Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, crossed Austria to Slovakia and ended in Hungary.

Hitchhiking Journal #12: Maribor – Bratislava

Maribor – Bratislava
21 August 2016
Distance: 308km
Transportation:   3 cars
Duration: 5 hours 30 minutes

308km has been probably the longest distance I have ever hitchhiked. Normally, with a long distance, I start hitchhiking quite early (around 9.30-10 am). In Maribor, I started the hitch at the traffic light before the exit to Austria. It was a bad decision to hitchhike there because there is nowhere that people would stop for you. After standing there for 20 minutes, I already knew that I would not have a chance. What I did was to walk to the lane where everyone was waiting for the traffic light. I got into the first car I asked. So, remember to ask when you are desperate!!! He took me to a gas station which is few minutes away from the Austrian border. My first sign was written Wien since it would be easier to find people going to that direction than directly to Bratislava.

In just about 15 minutes, a family from Ljubljana offered me a ride. It was the second family that I travelled with and it could never be better. It felt safer and you might be lucky getting offered something to eat on the way (Hitchhikers we are quite poor as you know). But it was delight to have met them. They took me to a big gas station which was just before the exit to Vienna. Since the gas station was big, I struggled with getting rides. It was a bit creepy that surround me was full of Romanian guys (I do not have any stereotype for them but I still haven’t got myself out of the trauma from my last travel to Portoroz). I stood there for about almost an hour before I got a ride offered by a Slovakian who was heading towards Bratislava.

Gonna spend sometime in Bratislava with the family for few days before heading to my last destination – BUDAPEST!

Hitchhiking Journal # 11: Portoroz – Ljubljana – Maribor| Hitchhiking in Slovenia is great

Portoroz – Ljubljana
16 August 2016
Distance: 118km
Transportation:   1 car
Duration: 1 hours 30 minutes

Ljubljana – Maribor
19 August 2016
Distance: 127km
Transportation:   1 car
Duration: 1 hours 45 minutes

Slovenia sure is the best country to hitchhiking. By the fact that most Slovenian people have had at least one time hitchhiking in this country so the idea of hitchhiking is very popular among this country. With each place I hitchhiked to, I only had to wait for 5 minutes or maximum of 15 minutes. When I asked them if they picked up hitchhikers often, they answered me that they were hitchhikers themselves when they were my age so it was normal for them to pick up hitchhikers every now and then.

What else is great about hitchhiking in Slovenia?

Everyone can speak English!!! Oh, I certainly missed that when I was in Italy. It was a big change when I arrived in Slovenia. When I hitchhiked from Portoroz, it was a stormy day. My host dropped me at a gas station in the direction to LJ. Within 5 minutes, I got a ride right away. The driver didn’t speak much of English but surprisingly he spoke German. So if you know English and a bit of German, you can survive in Slovenia 😉

LJ – MB: I gotta learn to trust people

Ljubljana sure made a great impression on me that it held my feet for another day. I left LJ with sadness but I surely come back soon!
I got a drive offered by a car dealer. Well, he seemed cool but the fact that he asked me if I didn’t mind to drop by a place so that he could check on the car he had been keeping an eye on. I was a bit nervous, to be honest, but somehow I felt like I could take a little risk. You could figure that everything was fine, otherwise, this post wouldn’t be published, right? But it really proved to me that maybe you should have trust on people sometimes. We’re all human, there are some bad ones but if you always think so, who would think you are the good one? The other day, I got a message from an old friend. His text was like “It would be wise for you not to hitchhike in countries like Slovenia”. I felt really disappointed on some people that you would say things that they have never ever experienced themselves. I had never ever felt as safe as I was in Slovenia!

Have trust on people, everyone!!!! We all want a chance to be looked good!

Hitchhike Journal #10: Padova – Portoroz (SLO) | Yo, tu, Hotel, Fuck…

Padova – Portoroz
14 August 2016
Distance: 272km
Transportation:   4 cars
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes

I was on strike and did not hitchhike for a whole week to recover my health problem. I travelled from Bologna with the luxurious train to Milan and to reunite with my lovely girl Manoela and my awesome host Emanuele. We had planned a little vacation together when Manoela left me in Cinque Terre that we would go to Verona together but Ema was a small surprise. I had a beautiful 3 day vacation with them, went to Verona, Lago Garda and to the beautiful Venice. However, I could not keep my trip on hold so it was time to be back on the road.

After saying goodbye to Ema and Manoela at a gas station, I was partly ready to hitchhike again. I was going to cross another country – Slovenia – where I had no idea about the country as well as their language.

I didn’t have to wait very long to get my first ride. A sweet family driving from Milan offered me a ride. They were so kind to me that I was touched when I said goodbye to them. Luisella could speak proper English and her 6 year old son Andrea could even ask me my name in English. It was the most adorable thing I had experienced during my trip. Luisella offered me a panini and a bottle of water and she kept asking me if I needed anything else. It felt good to be taken care of for awhile. She was very fascinated speaking English with me because she wanted to practice her English. They dropped me off at a gas station and Andrea gave me a kiss goodbye (how sweet). Something unexpected happened. They gave me in my hand 20 Euro and insisted me to take it for on the way. I was speechless to what they had just done for me and didn’t know what else I could do more than giving them a hug.

Under 5 minutes, there was a guy driving a Romanian car registration plate car asked me. He was going to drive to Ljubljana and I asked him if he would go in Trieste direction. He said yes. I asked him if I could join him to Trieste. He said yes. We drove for awhile and he kept telling me that I was beautiful which made me feel very uncomfortable. At one point, he took an exit to a toll booth but on a different highway from the one I was supposed to take in order to get to Trieste. I showed him the maps and asked if he could drop me off some gas stations on the way in Slovenia. He said yes. The fact that he could only speak Italian, it was a difficulty for me to instruct him to bring me to a certain place and I was dependent on him. He started asking me about my vacation, then what else I heard was hotel, beach, man… I started to feel weird. We were close enough to the split of exits between Ljubljana and Koper. There was still no gas stations. He came to me and said – “Yo, tu, hotel, fuck, then you go Koper”. I said no and told him to stop at the exit right away. He started to say the same thing again, kept his hand touching my leg and even to my chest. I defenced and that was all I could do. I got out of the car, in the middle of the highway. It started to rain, heavily. For the first time in my trip, I felt I was broken down. I cried. I was standing at the vignette checking point and hoping for a ride to come but there was no traffic going to Koper direction. I just stood in the rain and tried to find a shelter to hide. Some cars passed by but no one seemed like to stop. Few cars in row were going toward me to the direction of Koper. They had to stop to be checked and that was when I found my chance. I knocked on some cars’ windows to ask and finally one person accepted me. He drove me to a town near by and dropped me off at the exit. Lucky enough, I got another ride right away from there to go to Isola – where I was going to wait for my host to pick me up.

I really cannot describe how I feel at the moment because my emotions are mixed up. I feel exhausted, energy-less, homesick. Right now, I just want to be home, to have my family’s food, to be surrounded by friends. But you know, it’s been 6 weeks and this is the challenge I have given myself. That’s why, I’m going on and not gonna give up.

My plan has changed!

I’m gonna cut off a week of travelling so I will be back in Germany one week earlier because I need to take care of some school works. I’m not crossing Austria as I planned but I will still go to Austria to head over to Bratislava, Slovakia. For now, it’s time to see Slovenia

Hitchhike Journal #9: Pisa – Florence – Bologna

Pisa – Florence
3 August 2016
Distance: 83.5km
Transportation:   1 car
Duration: 1 hours 40 minutes

Florence – Bologna
7 August 2016
Distance: 107km
Transportation:   2 cars
Duration: 2 hours 15 minutes

For the first time of my hitchhiking trip, I got to one destination with only one vehicle. My host in Pisa brought me to a gas station which was not so much of traffic but I was lucky enough to be offered the ride by a Physiotherapist who could speak English. It has been quite a challenge getting rides in Italy and the communication just sucks. But somehow, I have been very proud that I have been able to manage all that and have reached more than 1000km since I started.


In Florence, I had 4 day stay for some business purposes. I was able to go to many small towns around Florence to get to know the area better and learn so much more about Tuscany region.

From Florence, it is quite difficult to find a good station to stand. There are 2 exits – North and South – and they both direct to many other highways. I was brought to gas station which is on a highway that exits to Pisa Nord. It was a 30 minute waiting time in the sun. During that time, a girl came to me and told me that it would be difficult for me to get a ride there because there was not much of traffic and it was difficult in Italy since people don’t trust people. It was nice of her to tell me that and I appreciated. But of course, I told her that it was not my first ride. After 30 minutes, a van offered me a ride. Again, no one could speak English. They brought me to the exit of the toll charge booth. Just 5 minute till a Parisian couple pity me, a girl standing in the hot sun, and took me into their car. They kindly brought me all the way to my host’s place.

So guys, it has been a month being on this hitchhiking trip. I can’t believe that I have reached 1.395km and changed so many plans on the way. In fact, I’m changing some destinations in the coming time too. I will be no longer taking the trip to Austria and instead to Slovenia. From there, I will go East to Hungary and Slovakia.

Hitchhike Journal #8: La Spezia – Pisa | Sun stroke & food poisoning in Pisa

30 July 2016
Distance: 77.8km
Transportation:   2 cars
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes

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After few days just chilling on the beach with Manoela, it was hard to say goodbye. We tried to have the most valuable time together in Riomaggiore (now that sounds like we’re a couple). Since we wanted to stay as long as we could with the sea, I decided to take my time in the morning and to start hitchhike in the afternoon. I would say, it was not the best decision.

Hitchhiking in the afternoon was more likely difficult because the amount of traffic was not that big. On that day, it took me more than an hour to get a ride and it came not easy. The sun was pouring over my head and I had no where to hide. I was standing on the road which was the exit to the highway and expected to have a ride easily. But sadly no. After 40 minutes waiting under the sun, I started to lose hope. A guy called me over from his car. He didn’t speak any English and I had no clue what he was trying to tell me. The only word I could understand from him was SEX. At that point, it was not my first time being asked for sex anymore so I was calm enough to say no and left. I was not nervous or scared, instead, anger was in me. How ridiculous it is that men only want sex when they see a vulnerable girl alone!!!

I still kept my hope up and stood under the sun with my sign for another 30 minutes. That moment I realised that I wouldn’t have any chance because all vehicles drove very fast at the exit. A van was being filled and I told myself to come to the man and asked. He could not speak English but at least we could communicate by my sign that I wanted to go to Pisa. Luckily, he was heading to Pisa Nord which is not too far away from Pisa centre. He dropped me off at a bus stop but it seemed not so appealing to me. After 5 minutes, another ride got me and brought me to the centre of Pisa.

While in Pisa:

I was really sad that I couldn’t have a chance to see the city. After 1 hour standing in the sun, it really got me and it turned into the sun stroke. I had to experience dizziness and the sun really made me tired. Then, because of some greasy Chinese (since I was so sick of eating pasta everyday), I got a bit of food poisoning. It was my first time ever getting sick while travelling and nothing else I could do. Drink enough water, stay rested and keep your head positive – my tips for you if you get sick while travelling. Don’t force yourself too much because you still have a long way to go with your travels.

Hitchhike Journal #7: Genova – Cinque Terre | Hitchhike with a company

27 July 2016
Distance: 101km
Transportation:   3cars
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes


I was very excited for this trip to happen. It had been years I thought of going to Cinque Terre because I wanted to see those cute towns in real life instead through photos. That trip was even more exciting because for the first time I had a company with me. I met Manoela in Milan through Couchsurfing. Having spent few days with each other, we had that click that we decided to travel with each other. Early in the morning, she took a trip from Milan to see me in Genova and the plan was to hitchhike together. For Manoela, it was the first time so I was so glad to show her what I had been doing the last weeks.

We started the trip from the train station Genova Principe and certainly it was a rough start. After asking around the way to the highway, we got a bus ride towards the ‘Autostrada’. That moment on, all struggles started. We went to the North-west of the city which all highways there were quite complicated. We went from one gas station to the other and somehow we still ended up in the wrong gas station. In the end, we stood very close to the highway and hoped for a ride to the main highway towards La Spezia. That took an hour.

A car with a French registration plate asked us if we wanted to have the ride. Oh well, he spoke French and I could only said ‘je parle pas français’ which obviously couldn’t help. Manoela is Brazilian and she could speak a bit of Italian which already was a great help for our trip already. With the very low Arabic music on, he drove us to the highway. Then come the exit to Milan, he dropped us in the middle of the highway where the exit was split into 2. We were terrified standing there because trucks were passing us and got pretty close. Luckily, after 5 minutes, a car accepted to drive us. We were happy running quickly crossing the highway (and laughing at the same time because of being so happy). He was heading to Rome but he agreed to bring us to the exit of La Spezia. Just before the toll, we got out and 2 women kindly took us in their car and drove us to La Spezia.

It was just 10′ train ride from La Spezia to where we were gonna stay – Riomaggiore. We took a rest, ate some Chinese (since we were both sick of eating Pasta everyday) and took the train to Riomaggiore.

Hitchhiking with 2 people, in my opinion, might be slightly more difficult because we were with two. Well, there is no proof though. However, it is always good to have a company because you wouldn’t like to wait for an hour by yourself.

Hitchhike Journal #6: Milan – Genova

24 July 2016
Distance: 142km
Transportation:  2 cars
Duration: 3 hours

The last trip took quite some nerves but this one went smoothly. To be honest, it took me awhile to put myself together and got ready for the trip again. The image of the truck driver asking me for sex was still in my head and I was very worried if there would be anything bad happen again. However, I had trust on people and there are always good people out there.

I had an incredible time in Milan. Emanuele was my host and he saved me from sleeping at the train station. He opened the door for me with full of hospitality. I thank him for the care and making me one part of his family. For sure, the big thank to Couchsurfing.com because they have brought people from all over the world together, let us share common interests.

Ema brought me to the gas station early morning. After saying goodbye, I started making my sign to head to Genova. The gas station I stood was at Viale Liguria. I couldn’t tell if it was the good station for hitchhikers or not. The traffic was crowded but there are many exits. It took me 20 minutes to have the first offer. He took me to Auto Grill which is the gas station/rest place for vehicles. From there, it was a short time till I had another ride.

In Genova, I was lucky to stay in one of the best spots of the city. It is close to the train station and up hill. From my host’s place, I had a great view of the city.

IMG_9869Pretty awesome huh?