July 26, 2019 3 min read

At Wildway, we don't just tell you to Live Wild, we make sure to do it too. That's why we encourage every opportunity for adventure. Recently, our Marketing Intern, Amanda, traveled to Europe and came back with stories to tell. Read about her experience hitchhiking in a foreign country.

"Allow me to begin by saying that prior to my time hitchhiking across Italy and Switzerland, I had never hitchhiked in my life. I was introduced to the world of hitchhiking by my more experienced partner who had done so during his trip to South America. I am grateful to have been able to dip my toe into this new and uncertain world with another. 


You might be wondering why I would choose to hitchhike instead of utilizing the very efficient trains and buses that travel all throughout Europe? As the saying goes, the best things in life are free; the views from a stranger’s car window are just as beautiful as those from a train. The difference? The company is sweeter, it is usually less cramped, and there is almost always air conditioning (a luxury not always guaranteed on trains).


The inexpensive aspect of hitchhiking is what drew me in initially; however, the people who graciously opened their cars to two smelly strangers were the best part of the entire experience. Had I relied solely on trains and buses, I would lack a cultural understanding of these countries that is best learned through the characters of its people.


To immerse myself in the culture through the perspective of the people who cultivate and sustain it, that is getting the ultimate travel experience.

Even in completely foreign countries where the language barrier could have gotten the best of us, it did not. More often than not, the people we encountered spoke English well enough for us to play a game of interpretation in which we guessed what they were trying to say from three words or less. Hitchhiking in a foreign country is easier than you would think since the only thing that must be understood is your destination. Even among those that spoke practically no English, as long as they understood the direction we were going all we had to do was sit back and watch GPS to tell them were to drop us off once we got close enough to our destination.  


How easy is it to get picked up in Europe? In my experience, very easy. The longest time we waited with our thumbs up and sweat dripping was 10 minutes; almost every ride we got came within 5 minutes or less! I did learn some tips and tricks along the way to optimize the chance of snagging a ride quickly:
  1. It may seem obvious, but getting as close to the road leading to your destination will increase your likelihood of getting picked up. Many times, I stood on the entrance ramp to a highway because it doesn’t get any closer than that.
  2. Flashing goofy grins and appearing as non-threatening as possible also helps as you can imagine.
  3. Another skill I required from hitchhiking was accepting rejection. The first time I threw my thumb up I got passed multiple times and found myself feeling embarrassed. By my third time, I couldn’t care less about being rejected- it’s their loss! 


Once I returned home to the States, my curiosity began questioning how easy it would be to hitchhike within my home country. I’ve read books of others’ experiences hitchhiking across the States and the difficulties that come with it. People in America seem to be less trusting of sweaty strangers on the side of the road, and they have reason to be. Despite this, I would like to find out for myself someday. Lucky for me, all I have to do is throw up a thumb and slap on a cheesy grin."

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