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?

 

TRUST YOURSELF, TRUST PEOPLE, TAKE PRECAUTION BUT NO HESITATION AND ENJOY!

 

 

Hitchhike Journal #4: Heidelberg – Stuttgart

15 July 2016
Distance: 121km
Transportation: 1 truck, 1 car
Duration: 2:30 hours


It was my second hitchhike and still nervous like the last time. However, I felt more confident about getting a ride since the distance was not that long. The Gas station on Speyererstr. 20 was my starting point at 8am. It was not a good day to hitchhike because the temperature was quite high, even in the early morning. The spot I was standing had no shadow and the sun was shining directly to me. Somehow it was good because people could see my sign better. After 20 minutes standing there, I got my first ride offered by a truck driver. He was heading to Bietigheim which is 30km away from Stuttgart so I was happy to join the ride.

Just before the exit to Bietigheim, the truck driver kindly dropped me off at gas station. There I met an Italian couple hitchhiking back to Italy since the guy lost his passport in Berlin. I was waiting for just 5 min and another guy who was on the way to his work in Ludwigsburg offered me the ride to there. On the way, somehow he decided to make the ride all the way to Stuttgart and to where I wanted to go. A bit surprised but happy to meet such a person. Good people are surrounding us but we’ve just never noticed it.

In Stuttgart, I will staying with a Couchsurfing host. Having been on this site for more than 3 years but now I have finally made use of it. I’m looking forward to meeting more people from this community.