“If You Know Where To Look You Can Go With A Penny Around The World”
I graduated as a Wilderness Guide in Finland around June 2015, and instead of getting a flight home, I decided to hitch-hike. Why? Not sure really, just fancied it. The thought scared me but also sounded like fun.
I felt a real sense of freedom and tranquillity during this trip, which I think was due to the simplicity of my routine. I got up, had breakfast, packed my things, stood by the side of the road, stuck my thumb out, got some lifts, admired the changing landscapes, the changing faces, conversed in English / broken English / extremely broken German / hand gestures / sat in silence, thanked people for their time, looked at my map, ate some food, stuck my thumb out, philosophised about my situation at that present moment, then repeated this until I felt like it was time to find somewhere to sleep.
Hitchhiking is a medley of luck, kindness of strangers and going with the flow. It is impossible to rush, it is impossible to know when your next lift will be, it is impossible to know what type of person will pick you up, what car you will be in, or how far they will take you. It’s so simple, you just stand there, with your thumb out, and wait.
I had set myself a deadline of a week, so I was basically travelling (almost) as fast as I could from Helsinki to London to get back in time for my girlfriend’s birthday. I experienced a whistle stop tour of the countries – only seeing and meeting a smattering of it’s people, a glimpse of it’s landscapes and a taste of it’s cultures, but what an enriching way to get from A to B. Granted, if I had have taken that flight from Helsinki to London, it would have taken a margin of the time, but I would have missed out on so many experiences. I was consistently overwhelmed by the trust and kindness that people showed me.
For example, in Estonia on the first day, I was given a lift by someone who then invited me back to their family home for the night. I spent the evening celebrating midsummers festival with the whole family in the traditional Estonian way, in the traditional midsummers weather – rain and a strong gale. Despite the weather, spirits were high and there was live music, tug of wars, kettle bell lifting competitions and a huge fire. I felt like one of the family and got to know Estonia’s culture a little better that night. I knew the trip was going to be memorable after the first night was like this…
And with each lift and each passing day, I met more and more people from a range of different backgrounds. I found myself experiencing perspectives through the eyes of each driver as I listened to their stories and views.
The map shows the sections of the trip I hitch-hiked in blue and the sections I paid for in grey. The only travel I paid for were the ferries from Helsinki to Tallinn and from The Hook of Holland to Harwich and a train from Witham to central London.
Total Distance Hitched: 1868miles / 3006km
Longest Distance Hitched in a Day: 496miles / 798km
Shortest Distance Hitched in a Day: 124miles / 199km
Average Daily Distance: 267miles / 429km
Total Rides: 31
Total Waiting Time: 16hours 58 minutes
Longest Wait: 2 hours 34 minutes
Shortest Wait: 0 minutes (asked someone) 3 minutes was the shortest roadside wait
Average Waiting Time: 32 minutes 40 seconds
Total Cost: €38.18 whilst on the continent. €162.18 including Ferries (€97) and train (€27)
Most Expensive Day: Day 01 – € 27.40 (+ €39 on Ferry)
Cheapest Day: Free
Average Daily Cost: €5.45 (€23.16 if you include ferries and train)
Total Countries Visited: 8
Most Countries Visited in a Day: 3
Other Hitchhikers Met: 2
Wild Sleeps: 2
OVERVIEW OF LIFTS AND PLACES TRAVELLED TO
Day 01 – Helsinki, Finland > **Tallin, Estonia** (By Ferry) > Pärnu, Estonia – 1 ride – Stayed with Liina and her family
Day 02 – Pärnu, Estonia > Riga, Latvia > Panevežys, Lithuania – 2 rides – Slept in a wood
Day 03 – Panevežys > Kaunas > Lazdijai > Warsaw > Łódź > Kolo – 5 rides – Slept in a field
Day 04 – Kolo, Poland > Konin, Poland > Żary, Poland > just outside żary > to slightly further outside żary > Magdeburg, Germany > many small trips near Magdeburg, even got a lift by one guy twice! > Leipzig – 10 rides – Slept at a friend of a friends
Day 05 – Leipzig > Georgenthal – 1 ride – Stayed with my friend Johannes who I studied with in Finland!
Day 06 – Georgenthal > Gotha > Giessen > Nearer to Koblenz > Alzey > Outside Cologne > Outside of Dussledorf > Nijmegan > Rotterdam – 8 rides – Stayed with my friend Martijns, who I also studied with in Finland!
Day 07 – Rotterdam > Somewhere outside Rotteram > Hook of Holland > **Harwich** (By ferry) > Just outside Harwich > Whitham > **London** (By train) – 4 rides – Stayed at my girlfriends