The Catastrophically Inefficient Trip

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There are many possibilities to get stuck while hitchhiking. No question you will arrive somehow someday, but meanwhile it can become really uncomfortable. So be aware of typical mistakes and try not to do as we did. Enjoy reading!

If you did a catastrophically inefficient trip as well, please share your experiences here to help others too.

Braunschweig-Amsterdam in 29 hours

by Kardan and Mirto, written november 2008

You know there are about 360 km between them and the highway is quite direct. We did some extra trip touching the Ruhrpot and nearly the North Sea as well. You want to know the distance? It was about 888 kilometers. :)

Our mistakes in chronological order:

  1. We left the house at 3 pm. In Autumn that's definitively too late for that distance. Best time to leave is noon or even morning.
  2. We didn't agree about the starting point. On the one hand we wanted to try the highway entrance next to the house, on the other hand it was to late for experiments. After an hour or two we got to Helmstedt on A2 (62a), which was the right choice, even though it meant going quite a few kilometers backwards. However from Braunschweig best way to head west is The Zweidorfer Holz which you can reach via bus.
  3. When we got a ride, we had a nice talk to the driver. Even though we were paying attention to the road, sign with a name of our destination petrol station passed behind a huge truck, unseen. Luckily just a few km afterwards was next station. We started hesitating if should get off (bifurcation where we were supposed to separate was approaching!) or stay (not sure if really missed our station), when the driver asked,'do you want to leave NOW?' while passing Auetal we didnt manage to say 'yes' on time, which would have been so easy! So whenever you are in doubt of leaving or not, leave! Don't get distracted!
  4. So we followed our drivers direction, got of around Hamm and decided to get back to A30. We got toTecklenburger Land, just before A30 (Germany) but the problem was that next petrol station on our way would be already in Holland. One possibility could have been to go east to Groenegau or even Auetal (which would have not been that good either) and change direction there. But it was late already. So we spent the night there at the toilet foyer which was not that comfortable at all.
  5. In the morning we decided to go north (as that's where most of cars was going) to at least get away from there. Unfortunately, we didn't communicate enough with the driver to realise that he wasn't going to Oldenburg, but to Bremen. So when we already passed Dammer Berge (where we should have gone out) we understood that he was going to Bremen. Finally we stood on the lane between A1 (Germany) and A29 (Germany) with a sign saying '20 km', with completely wet shoes and in a fog making s invisible. Talk to drivers very clearly, ask them for their exact way and if they don't know arrange a way that fits all.
  6. After a while we hitched to nearest gas station:Huntetal, planning to go west to Groningen next and then all the way down to A'dam. It was quite dead and took us 2 hours till we realized we should go back south again to A30. Most of the people just went north to Wilhemshaven, so changing to A28 (Germany) was a bad idea. Put a big black cross there on your map to avoid going there accidentally!
  7. So we went back south and we ended up 20 km from the station we woke up that morning, but 6 hours later (even on foot would be faster!) From there it was easy to go to Holland. All was going more than fine when we did another mistake, which took us another hour. When we were about 40 kilometers before Amsterdam having dumpster meal sitting with a sign at the station exit a nice man stopped to pick us up: "Amsterdam? Jump in! I don't go till there, but on the way to A'dam, from there you will have only 20km left." We had nice talk but just made a circle around Amsterdam and after more than hour in the car and making next 100km, we got to Leiden - which was 20km from A'dam. At the end we just made 20 km towards our aim. Always be sure to have a benefit of the way you go and talk clearly to drivers to avoid bad surprises.

We got next ride easily and got off in front of our final destination

trip as list

  • Braunschweig, Hamburger Strasse
  • Braunschweig, Hansestrasse
  • A2, 62a Helmstedt
  • A2, Nymern
  • A1, Im Mersch
  • A1, Tecklenburger Land
  • lane between A1 and A28
  • A1, Huntetal, East
  • A1, Huntetal, West
  • A1, Dammer Berge, East
  • Dutch stations to be added later

’s-Hertogenbosch-Maastricht overnight (130 km / 11 hrs = avg 18 kmh)

by Fverhart, written july 2009

This year, early in spring, I visited my sister and her boyfriend, who had just become parents of my cute little nephew Collin! The little boy was three days old then. They live near ‘s-Hertogenbosch, while I reside in Maastricht, the cities are connected directly by the A2 motorway. The main obstacle on the route is the city of Eindhoven.

I have hitchhiked this stretch often; it’s a distance of about 130 kilometres with a total of 11 petrol stations, six to the north, five to the south. I’ve used all of these petrol stations at least once to acquire rides.

So far I had always gotten home on Sundays if I was on any of those petrol stations no later than 9 PM. Sometimes my father had brought me to one of those by car. Today I returned on Saturday evening, and I started to get lifts at 8.30 PM from the first petrol station just north of ‘s-Hertogenbosch. And I repeat – this time I was going back on Saturday evening, in stead of Sunday.

I got away pretty soon with an older couple for the first 60 kilometres, up to the first petrol station behind Eindhoven. When we arrived there it was about 9.30 PM. It was not too busy, but something was going on. A bus with Romanian people would not take me, although they went the right way, as there was no seat, so the police could have some bad words on it. But the car behind it, with a Polish guy, was taking me further, to the next petrol station 20 km further on. What a pity that he would not bring me further, if he would make a detour of a few minutes he could have taken me even 30 km more and I would have know for sure that I’d be back home before midnight.

10.30 PM, petrol station Ellerbrug on the A2 between Eindhoven and Roermond. Still 50 km to Maastricht, which could be a matter of 40 minutes, or normally at worst an hour or so. Not this time. Customers were not very numerous, but we need just one lift, so.. as usual, the solo women would not dare to take.. so at eleven in the evening the petrol station was closing its doors and the number of people stopping for petrol became therefore smaller and smaller.. some with a tank card to fill up after opening hours, some driving on after realizing that the station was not open.. Had to be patient so!

Just waiting, observing the opportunities, in the meantime, experiencing the nature, the landscape, the stars.. slowly the temperature was dropping to slightly below zero, at least on the ground. The ground got a bit harder, because it was slowly freezing, and I lived experiencing the process. The asphalt on the petrol station got a bit slippery and froze in as well.

For a long time there was a big car with five girls smoking and making pictures, and I tried to mingle with them in my way, the very patient way, just waiting, standing, somewhere in their vicinity. Knocking windows would perhaps have scared them totally off. Anyway, nothing is better than teasing ladies in such way.

In an hour I could ask a few people who stopped for smoking or for peeing or to breath a bit of air under the clear sky; one could take me, but with a rather long break on the way as he had something to arrange there.

Traffic got scarcer, on the motorway maybe six cars per minute, so low that I started to hitch on the emergency lane under a light pole. This way one time a taxi driver stopped who was going to Maastricht. But if I did not pay – and I do not pay for my hobby, this is the life – he would not take me.. So I’ll stay here for indefinite time, and you’re going all alone: sports is sports and besides that, I do not have coins anyway!

So I was standing at night on the emergency lane. Whenever I saw cars going to leave for the petrol station I quickly ran back to the parking to verify the result of my improved chances for getting the next lift.

There was just one truck on the area, from Panevezys, Lithuania, but the driver was fast asleep.

Still later I decided to stand at the exit lane just in front of the petrol station. There were more traffic lights there. Not much later a man took the exit and stopped for me just on the exit lane. He drove a car built in the 1970’s.

What did I just say?

Yes, not much later a car stopped for me!

After more than three hours on this closed petrol station, on Saturday night on a main motorway of the Netherlands, a driver actually stopped for me. For ME!

The driver was going to a village between Sittard and Heerlen, which is “only” about twenty kilometres from home. We stopped on the next petrol station at 02.45 at night. It was open, there were even customers, and we stopped to fill up the tank. From this spot I have always gotten lifts to my town within half an hour, usually in less than 15 minutes. But I decided to stay for 10 more kilometres and to try to get the lift home from a great motorway ramp near Geleen (A76 number 3). So there I was standing at 03.00 at night on the ramp where I always got a lift to Maastricht in 15 minutes. Drivers reacted positively on my sign, but nobody stopped. At 04.00 traffic dried out further, since most people who had been to bars or dancings in the vicinity had mostly gone home.

Still a bit later I decided to walk back to the A2.

Usually there is a lot of traffic on the national road through the small town of Beek, but now I hiked all through seeing just three or four taxis passing by (they didn’t stop for my thumb).

Back on the A2 at Beek there is the last petrol station before Maastricht, only 11 km to go. Open, but nothing going on, so after ten minutes of waiting I hiked on by the side of the motorway. Middle of Saturday night, one car per minute passing by. So I hike at the edge and simply raise the thumb, daring the saving angels!

Passing also Maastricht-Aachen Airport, a truck from Luxembourg just leaving left the airport, who could perfectly take me some 8 km if he was going towards Luxembourg. He was not!

In Meerssen, only five-six kilometres to hike, I hesitated by raised my thumb a few times for those early birds that had already woken up.. but nobody stopped and so I hiked further..

Back home at 7.30 in the morning, about eleven hours after I left, but the journey was still for free, and just the same time for being back after going to a disco in my city, with the exception that I hadn’t seen any bouncing boobies this way..