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The Netherlands are a member state of the European Union as well as the Schengen Agreement. Hitchhiking in the Netherlands is quite easy, and legal in most places, though not on motorways. The basic idea is that when you're allowed to walk somewhere, you can stand there for hitching too. Standing on a motorway entrance just in front of the motorway sign is allowed as well as standing on a petrol station along the motorway. Asking the Dutch people at a service station is faster than waiting while using the thumb for hitchhiking.
Since 1991 Dutch students have a card providing them with free public transport (either on weekends or during the week), so hitchhiking is not as popular as it used to be. In some university towns there are still official liftershaltes, official hitchhiking spots. The current government intends to make an end to free public transport for students from the beginning of 2016.
Other good places are petrol stations along the motorways and the entrances to the motorway from larger cities (when there is a stopping space such as an emergency lane). On such a place the average waiting time is 5–45 minutes (same as Germany). A major difference with Germany is that many lifts are not longer than 50 km.
At petrol stations you should definitely try to talk to people, which will probably work out fine if you don't dress up like a hippie. Many people will not stop their cars if you stand with the board but will take you if you ask them in person (which is a general hitchhiking principle). Try to speak in Dutch or English. French and German often work too, but not as effectively. Most likely the Dutch people will avoid you while speaking in German. In the Netherlands, there are as well a lot of seasonal workers and immigrants. There are particularly a lot of people from Poland and Bulgaria. Thus, it is fairly easy to get a lift for instance straight to Poland if you know the language or are communicative enough to sway Polish people to take you.
Sometimes the petrol stations workers tell you to not ask people in front of the shop directly. You can then hitch at the exit of the station which is mostly just as good but as its disadvantages of course.
- Download and print 42 ready made hitchhiking signs for easy hitchhiking all across the Netherlands!
- Use of Internet PCs in every city library, for a small price. Also you can find lots of public wi-fi networks that you can connect your laptop with for using the internet.
- When hitching in the Netherlands for a longer period (or when you're living there), it's advisable to get a chipkaart This is a lot cheaper than buying a one way-ticket or day-ticket on the bus or tram. See for all info http://www.ov-chipkaart.nl/?taal=en
- The old Strippenkaart isn't available any more as of November 2011. The two options now are the new chipkaart or the new tickets called Gemakskaart, which is way more expensive than the old Strippenkaart.
- Banks and supermarkets often have free coffee and sometimes even cookies.
- 'Lefier' (or local job-centres) have free coffee and sometimes jars of free chocolates and mints.
- Some employees of petrol stations may tell you not to hitch in front of the station, where the pumps are. Finding a ride at the parking lot, or thumbing where the back of the station starts is not a problem. Keep petrol station employees for friends and avoid starting unnecessary discussions.
- Shell has internal guidelines to only allow customers on their property. A hitchhiker may therefore be asked not to talk with drivers in the forecourt of the station, but this rarely happens. If this happens, buy a coffee or inexpensive whatever-bar, and ask for the receipt. This will formally make you a customer!
- Dutch Hall of Shame of petrol stations where hitch-hikers have been asked not to talk with costumers on the forecourt
- Service station Kloosters (Shell), A59, Tilburg --> Eindhoven (Fverhart was asked once out of 4 times), other hitch-hikers have also been asked not to talk with costumers Winner of Most Unfriendly Petrol Station Award in the Netherlands
- Service station Swentibold (Shell), A2, Maastricht --> Eindhoven (Fverhart was asked once out of 6 times)
- Service station Haarrijn (Shell), A2, Amsterdam --> Utrecht (Fverhart was asked once out of 7 times)
- When using trains in The Netherlands, you may be able to travel at a discount rate (-40%). Travelling with a printed ticket is no longer possible. Every traveller needs to have an OV-chipcard to use public transportation. You need to active "Samenreiskorting" (travel together reduction) on your OV-chipcard. The procedure is described on the website of NS (Dutch railways). If you have activated this and checked in with 40% reduction you can travel together with another traveller with an "NS abonnement" (NS season ticket holder), so you need to find somebody who has one, ideally before departure of the train. This is valid on weekdays after 09:00 and during the weekend without limitation (however, there are several types of season tickets nowadays, and some of them do not qualify for discount during the afternoon rush hours).
"I hitch hike a huge amount in the Netherlands and it is almost always successful. As stated above, managers in petrol stations sometimes ask you to leave the main forecourt. This has been happening with increasing frequency to me at Shell stations in particular, but I have not experienced this at any other petrol company (they are usually more than happy if I politely ask where I could stand without being a nuisance). ".
"Having had 307 rides from Dutch motorway petrol stations, I have been asked not to talk with drivers on the forecourt three times (at stations operated by Shell). Much more often I have gotten positive gestures from employees and occasionally they offered me a drink, a snack, a ride (!) or cardboard. Staff in Germany is definitely friendlier though.... Respect and politeness are keywords."
The Dutch road service organisation ANWB has stores all over the country, mostly in the bigger cities. Here you'll find all sorts of road maps. Most importantly though, they have an excellent road map of the Netherlands available for free. Officially these are exlusively for members, but it won't be hard to persuade them to give a free one to a hitchhiker. This map shows you all the motorways, secondary roads, motorway exits and petrol stations. Don't waste money on a map, get this one! You'll recognise the map by the name Routekaart Nederland and the ANWB logo.
In the Netherlands, license plates do not contain any marking about where the car comes from, but it does indicate the age of the car (although not in a straightforward way). Often though, the name and the city of the garage where the car was bought is indicated just under the license plate on the backside of the car. On busy petrol stations this may be useful information to look out for, as it may indicate where people are driving to. A normal license plate has three blocks of black letters or numbers on a yellow background. Every block consists of two letters or two numbers (so in total six letters and numbers). Since 2007 a new series of license plates is in use for the newest vehicles existing of a combination of three letters in the middle. Taxis' license plates have a blue background. The license plate of old timers is very dark blue with white letters. The number of cars with such license plate or yet another kind is very limited.
The Netherlands are one of the rare countries where you can find a cheap pot of 'Peanut Butter' (pindakaas), which is a nutritious item that you can easily carry in your backpack. Also, you can find a tube of 'mayonnaise' and 'ketchup' sauce (Zaanse saus) for about 30 cents, which last long without needing to be refrigerated and are great supplements to sandwiches or friet (as it avoids having to pay the 50 cents sauce at the snackbar (or sometimes frituur or frietkot, especially in Belgium) when ordering a snack).
See trashwiki for info on dumpster diving for free food in the Netherlands.
- Facebook group Hitchhiking in Belgium and the Netherlands
- Hitchhiking in the Netherlands, by Frank Verhart.
- Nederland Lift, campaign to promote hitchhiking as a daily means of transport.
- Survey about hitchhiking in the Netherlands
If you search cities with less than 100.000 inhabitants, have a look at the seperate Provinces articles. You find them at the bottom of this page.
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