Hi, Are You Going to Innsbruck?

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Munich, Germany

So perhaps I have become too lacidasical from my time in Latin America.

I was once a type-A crazy planner and now I just kind of go with the flow. This means I don’t plan anything. I double check nothing.

Oops. I didn’t have a shuttle in Munich.

I messed up the dates and didn’t confirm and there was no shuttle space for me and Innsbruck was nearly 200km away.

I was enjoying Munich and even contemplated staying there and visiting some of the top places to visit in Germany but I needed to get to Innsbruck as I was speaking at a conference.

But I was in luck as a fellow traveler also screwed up.

Dylan had just returned to the UK after hitchhiking across Canada and had previously hitchhiked through France.

He proposed we hitchhike. I figured what the hell, it’s an experience.

Dylan is 23.

I had some hesitations. Did I mention I was 34? Am I too old to be a vagrant hobo?

But I figured even if it all went to hell hitchhiking would make an interesting blog post so I took Dylan’s black marker, made myself an Innsbruck sign and we left for the edge of the autobahn.

Oh yeah did I mention the autobahn?

So hitch hiking is different in Europe. You don’t stand on the side of the highway but the entrance to it.

I stood with my Innsbruck sign with Dylan, 25 feet behind me with the sign of a half way point.

Within five minutes we were picked up.

He was a Nokia-Siemens engineer heading home but he could only take us 20km.

He wondered why we were hitching, why didn’t we just take the train?

Good question.

We were dropped off at a gas station where I learned the next part was tricky.

Dylan explained that at a gas station you actually need to go and approach people to ask where they were going and if they could take you.

Uh oh.

Seriously? I have to be one of those sketchy people that approaches random people?

This is far outside my comfort zone.

But then I realized it was a bit different in Europe.

I met two German girls who were also hitching for the first time as part of Tramprennen – which is kind of like an Amazing Race hitch hiking race across Europe.

It made me feel less like a societal leech but it is really difficult mustering the courage to ask people if they would pretty please take you somehere.

What I also hadn’t thought about was that not everyone would speak English so half the time I would just say “Innsbruck?” only to be rejected.

Things turned around when I found the girls a ride to Salzberg.

I was happy for them but a bit of loneliness set in when Dylan and I were left alone to ask every person who passed where they were going.

Constant rejection.

It sucks having to approach people at the pump with a friendly but not crazy smile, hoping they have room in the back.

They are either a) not going to Innsbruck b) have kids in the back or c) just don’t want to take you.

Actually no one rejected me outright, I assume they just lied and said they weren’t going toward Innsbruck.

At the hour mark I was sliding into hitchhiker depression. What was wrong with me? Should I put on nicer clothes?

But experienced Dylan came to the rescue and found a truck driver who could take us the remaining 90 minutes to Innsbruck.


truck driver

Steve was from Holland and drives 9 months of the year and travels the remaining time.

His next trip was to motorbike through India although Colombia was also on his list.

We talked about traveling and couchsurfing and eventually I fell asleep as I hadn’t been able to sleep at the airport the night before.

We cheerfully left Steve at a gas station at the outer limits of Innsbruck and I felt great.

I didn’t realize there was a huge problem.

No one who was going to this gas station was going into Innsbruck, they were leaving it.

It was dusk and practically vacant aside for some tour buses and we were 5km outside the city centre.

I was ready to walk it but Dylan wisely recommended we stay as he didn’t want to get lost in the dark.

After half an hour of sitting Dylan convinced a woman who had stopped to talk to her cell phone that she should take us.

She had never picked up hitch hikers and was a bit wary but decided to take a chance.

We ended up at our hostel door only 5 hours later. It took 3 hours longer than the shuttle but I met some great people.

I don’t know if I will do it again but I am happy I did it.

Join the Conversation

  1. I’ve tried the mitfahrgelegenheit while traveling from Germany to Zurich. Which is like organized cross country carpool. I loved the experience! It wasn’t as scary as i initially imagined.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I had never heard of that before…

  2. I’ve never hitchhiked but I have heard that truck drivers are the most likely to pick you up. We just left Innsbruck, actually. Did you go to Oktoberfest?

    1. Dylan - The Travelling Editor says:

      We missed it by about three two weeks! Shame. But then London to Munich is only a short hop – for me that is 😉

    2. Ayngelina Author says:

      Sadly no, you will find out why…

  3. Brilliant stuff mate, I wish I’ve done some hitch hiking now, feel very jealous. Do Canadians pick up hitch hikers? I know Dylan did his Grand Canadian Hitch Hike so I guess they do.

    1. Dylan - The Travelling Editor says:

      They often tend to – because they either habitually pick up hitchhikers and/or have hitchhiked themselves. Definitely recommend Canada as one of the most hitch-friendly countries out there!

  4. Cool story! I hitchhiked for the first time ever this summer while in Nicaragua. Not on my normal list of things to do while in another country, but it turned to be a pretty neat experience! Glad to hear you are back on the road again.

  5. Sometimes it just as well that I don’t know things until they are over…very happy that this experience turned out well!!

  6. The Travel Chica says:

    I think I would only try it if I was with a guy. Never alone… would make me too nervous.

    You did meet a lot of interesting people.

    1. Me too!

  7. Emily @travelated says:

    “Am I too old to be a vagrant hobo?” hahaha… this post cracked me up. How many times do we do stupid/crazy things cause we think it will make an interesting blog post? 🙂

  8. Yay glad you made it! Good to know 34 is not too old to hitchhike!
    I’d be brave enough to hitchhike if I had a partner in crime, but not alone. Too many crazy knife-wielding murderer stories while growing up.
    *not to self: If I have kids, don’t tell them hitchhikers will murder them! ;P

  9. what a fun experience…doubt i’d have the balls to do it, though!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I never thought I would either?

  10. At least it’s something you can say you’ve done once in your life now, hun. 😀

  11. Natalie T. says:

    I didn’t know you did this! It’s interesting. At this point, I don’t think I would do it. Never say never but I like to get to my destination pronto.

    1. Dylan - The Travelling Editor says:

      Sure I can fit you in my schedule somewhere for a hitchhiking 101 trial run 😉

    2. Ayngelina Author says:

      It was easy with Dylan, never turn down an adventure.

  12. Ha ha ha! Sounds like quite a fun adventure.

    Glad you got to your destination safe and sound. 🙂

  13. I hitchhiked in P.E.I…..however I was with 3 other guys..and it was P.E.I. 😀

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I once hitchhiked from New Minas to Wolfville 🙂

  14. I would strongly suggest NOT to hitchike in Italy, after China I’m feeling myself the difference in Rome between now and when I used to live here. Also, wandering Italy, pay extra attention to your personal belongings, at least if you happen in Rome’s buses and metro, it might be an exaggeration sometimes, but it’s still better to avoid unpleasant situations..

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Good tip Angela, also may explain why Buenos Aires is also so bad on public transit as well. It’s the only major city in Latin America where you are most definitely going to have at least one situation where someone tries to pickpocket you – must be the Italian heritage.

  15. Hitchhiked heaps in my teens – not so much the last few decades – only very occasionally when it’s the most practical solution.

  16. The Nomadic Pinoy says:

    How I wish I could do this too – indeed one of the best ways to meet people…as long as you get to anywhere safely!

  17. Your very brave! Glad you made it ok. I never did any hitchhiking before. Maybe I should add it to my list. I should try it at least once.

  18. I’ve hitchhiked a few times, but the one time I did it alone was in Colombia and I walked for hours because I was afraid to get in anyone’s car! I’d never do it again unless I was with an experienced hitchhiker like you were. I know it’s hard, good job for being brave 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yeah I hitchhiked in Nicaragua but only on Ometepe, but I would be hesitant in South America too.

  19. I’m glad hitching worked out well for you! I’ve only done it once while in Cape Town but it was only for about a 15-20 minute drive. Now you’ve got me wanting to try it again!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Did you have to wait long?

  20. Lusso Bags says:

    Sounds like you took the long route! At least when you’re a travel blogger willing to try an adventure, you can always count on writing about it later 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yes when in doubt I know it will be something to write about 🙂

  21. Raymond @ Man On The Lam says:

    I hitchhiked in Jordan and met all sorts of wonderful characters. It was a great experience…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      My guide in Jordan told me someone hitchhiked the country, maybe it was you. I can see how you would do it here, probably safer than Germany.

  22. My first hitching experience was when I was 17. I was around Boston. My car ran empty and I was huffing it to the next exit. Luckily a cute little old lady pulled over, as I jokingly held out my thumb. She was very nice…

  23. We hitchhiked for the first time in NZ it is a fun way to travel as you meet so may different people!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Does NZ have much of a hitchhiking culture? We don’t really in Canada but I think it would be much easier in New Zealand.

  24. dtravelsround says:

    I’ve thought about hitching, but def don’t think I’d do it solo. It is something I would like to do next time I’m in a place (not America) where I feel OK with doing it. My friend and I did pick up two people though, in separate occasions, in Alaska. Very different there than in continental US in terms of hitching.

  25. Brimshack says:

    Well I certainly would have given you a ride. 🙂

  26. I hitched all round Europe when I was in my early twenties, it was great. Not quite so sure how it is now or how I would feel about my kids trying it when they are old enough, but I think if you observe a few safety rules it should be okay. One hitch led me to a whole new life in Berlin and arguably where I am today – via Africa where I also hitched. Easiest country in the world to get a lift? Algeria…

  27. Dana Newman says:

    Wow! Glad you made it there safely!! Yeah, that would have been WAY out of my comfort zone too.

  28. Wow you are brave! At least you had someone else with you to do it with. It’s very adventurous of you too! Would you do it again?

  29. anil_traveller says:

    Lovely post! I’ve never actually hitchhiked but it seems that if I were to ever do so then Europe would probably be a good place to start. 🙂

  30. Stuart Murray | Gonzo Stu says:

    I love that hitchhiking still exists, well to some degree, I’m sure people make it sounds easier than it is so thanks for a different view on this! Pleased you made it to Innsbruck and I imagine it was far more exciting (in hindsight) than the shuttle!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s been a few years since I wrote that piece and it remains such a fond memory!

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