I first hitchhiked in 2004 but started doing it often in 2006. Here are my recent trips:
Adventure #64: Killarney or bust, 703km, August 2015
Adventure #65: Eduardo O Valente, 4km, April 2016
Adventure #66: A Lancashire concert, 15km, July 2017
Adventure #67: Eigg on face, <1km, August 2017
Adventure #68: Escape from Svalbard, 4km, March 2018
Adventure #69: Back to the McCrorys, 2km, April 2018
Please check my log for an overview of all my adventures.
Distance travelled: 27994km: 9449km alone, 13686km with one other hitchhiker, 4025km in a group of three, 816km in a group of four, 2km in a group of five, never in a group of six, and 16km in a group of seven; hitched road vehicles for 27403km (including 9km by bus, 39km by coach, 63km by taxi, <1km by golf cart, and one Eurotunnel journey), trains for 590km, trams for 1km, and not hitched by sea or air... yet
Longest lift: 589km, from Povegliano Est (A22 services near Verona, Italy), to Feucht (A9 services near Nürnberg, Germany), in September 2009. The driver was going from Bologna to Szczecin, and took four hitchhikers in a five-seater car at the same time
Countries hitchhiked (earliest first): Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, United Kingdom, France, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Monaco, Slovenia, Iceland, Spain, Andorra, Portugal, Norway (Svalbard)
Most useful lift: Gabor the Hungarian, who picked us up at Pforzheim Nord (A8 services near Pforzheim, Germany) and didn't care where he was going - he wanted to be a personal taxi service. So we got him to take us to a mate's house in Kelkheim, 177km away. Although neither of us trusted him, and he tried to abduct my travelling partner, it was one hell of a useful lift
Least useful lift: the Slovakian white van man who took us to the wrong side of Bratislava, on the wrong motorway and facing in the wrong direction, making us fail the Bummit to Belgrade challenge
Most fun lift: two Israeli soldiers found me north of Tiberias, and took me with them for a great day out throwing snowballs, avoiding minefields and exploring abandoned military outposts in the Golan Heights, before tasty ostrich steak and a cross-country drive just to drop me back in Haifa. Also, drinking syrupy hot chocolate with a French white van man and his two young children as we travelled through the Italian Alps was fun. And I won't forget the three Danish students on the start of their roadtrip
Best hitchhiking spot used: Brunautal West (A7 services near Hamburg, Germany), where those three Danish students dropped me off in front of around 200 hard rock fans going home from the Wacken festival. I could pick and choose from so many offered rides, going all over Europe... the only way the situation could have been better would be if I was among a crowd of hippies
Worst hitchhiking spot used: a McDonalds restaurant in Meerane (near Zwickau, Germany), a couple of kilometres away from an empty motorway junction. All hope seemed lost. Whilst I was thankful to the previous driver for going 50km off his route, he did it so as to drop me off in the most useless place he could find
Most unexpected lift: from Keele to Knutsford M6 services in the UK, from a coach full of old-age tourists from Warrington, who were travelling back from a package holiday in the southwest. We won over their sympathy and played them some old classic tunes on the ukulele
Best scenery: waking up at a service station in the mountains east of Aosta, then travelling through the town, and north on the E27 across the Swiss border towards Lausanne - this was unforgettable and was well worth the overnight hitchhike from Rome. In Germany, I had the opportunity to hitchhike to Traben-Trarbach through the hills and vineyards. I've hitchhiked through some beautiful Israeli scenery, especially Route 40 south of Be'er Sheva, and the mountain roads around Galilee and the Golan Heights. Most of the Isle of Man (especially the A18 'mountain road') is breathtaking. Svalbard was also beautiful to hitch, but I did so in the dark
Scariest lift: any of the old-age drivers with terrible eyesight who pick you up on the Isle of Man, and drive way too fast. The Isle of Man has no national speed limit. Also, in June 2009 we suffered a rear wheel suspension failure while doing a high speed on a German autobahn near Koblenz. No big accident but we considered ourselves very, very lucky. Also, hitchhiked through a polar bear danger zone in Svalbard.
Shortest time waiting: no time at all. On many lucky occasions it's taken under five seconds to thumb a lift. It's a big relief
Longest time waiting: a spot in central Cologne, going east. I'd used the spot the year before and it took 2 hours for a lift to arrive. This time we weren't so lucky; after waiting for eight hours, we cut our losses and hitchhiked a train
Most ride offers turned down: I turned down many, many ride offers in the direction of Munich while on the German-Austrian border at Inntal Ost (A93 services) during a seven-hour wait. I was trying to get to Vienna - there was a fair bit of traffic going in my direction, but no-one was interested in helping
Biggest moment of genius: none. In this era, your average hitchhiker has a few screws loose
Biggest moment of stupidity: spilling freshly squeezed orange juice onto my rucksack and sleeping bag whilst trying to thumb down a VW camper van outside Jönköping, Sweden on a hot, sticky afternoon. The van didn't stop and I had to grudgingly trudge back to Jönköping centre, wash out my equipment and catch a bus
My definition of 'hitchhike': a journey which is
- for free (if on public transport, then a free ride where you'd normally have to pay),
- arranged at the moment the journey starts
- with the explicit consent of the vehicle driver,
- who is otherwise a complete stranger to you.
(i.e. no car-pooling schemes or similar, public transport drivers must agree to let you travel without paying, lifts from friends-of friends, work colleagues etc don't count, and neither do enforced rides in police vehicles)
Planned hitchhiking trips
None. But if you're around Manchester, let me know.