If you want to take Budget Travelling to the extreme, hitchhiking is perhaps the cheapest way to travel.
New BudgetTraveller intern, Amy Woodyatt shares her top tips on how to get more for free..
DO: Try and blag a free hostel
When hitching, you have to learn to be a little bit cheeky. If you don’t fancy paying for a hostel, it’s always worth having a friendly chat with the receptionist to negotiate or even avoid the price. I’ve had quite a lot of success in this department.
Wombats Hostel in Vienna, Mandala Hostel and Retox Party Hostel in Budapest were happy to help out a fellow traveller to keep them off the streets. It helps if you’re hitchhiking for charity, but some people are just nice, so if you’re just doing it for fun, it’s worth a try anyway.
DON’T: Sleep in a toilet…
….you will get mumps.
If you can’t afford a hostel, sleeping in a toilet stall can seem like the next best thing –warmer than outside and with a lock on the door… Sure, you can make it comfy; use your jumper as a pillow on the toilet floor and get a half decent nights sleep, despite the automatic lights that turn on if you so much as wiggle your big toe, but no amount of trying to make the most of a weird situation can prepare you for the wrath of an angry German Frau wanting to use the disabled toilet at 5am. If that thought doesn’t put you off, just think of sleeping just inches away from a toilet floor, the breeding ground for god knows what diseases and germs. I caught mumps.
DO: Eat cheap
When trying to travel for as little money as possible, eating cheap food can be a godsend. And Europe is the place for it. One euro for a pizza slice the size of my head? Yes please. Two euros for ice cream, and ice cream for breakfast? YES PLEASE. And the further East you go, the cheaper the food (and beer) seem to get.
DON’T: Try ALL the local cuisine
Whilst it’s both polite and adventurous to try new cuisines abroad, there are some foods that you really should steer clear of, no matter how cheap they are.
DON’T: Get food poisoning
A seven hour train journey is not the optimum time to be exploding from both ends. Eating cheap is all well and good, but make sure the food is at least decent. Take it from someone who’s been there.
DO: Make the most of the kindness of strangers
Despite what the Daily Mail would have us believe, strangers can be lovely and friendly, and are not all sex offenders. When hitching, I was overwhelmed by the kindness of the local people, who let us stay in their houses, fed us, and took us out to show us the city. I’d say it’s best to trust your instincts – if the guy offering you somewhere to sleep for the night seems like a creep, you should probably decline. If he seems nice enough, he might just be nice enough.
DON’T: Get taken advantage of
When hitchhiking, it’s advisable to be as laid back as possible. The driver might not always be able to take you exactly where you want, or as quick as you want, but it’s the best you’re gonna get plus it’s free so make the most of it. That being said, do not let the driver take advantage of you. I learnt this the hard way with Bob, a man who said he would give us a lift from Belgium to Germany if we helped him load a woodchipper into his van in Luxembourg. Four hours, blood sweat and tears and one BLOODY HUGE LOG CHIPPER later, Bob is lost in Luxembourg, and drops us off back in Belgium, where we started, having used us for manual labour but not having helped us get any further in our journey to Germany.
DO: Try and blag free trains
DON’T: Get kicked off just before the border
Self explanatory really.
DO: Make friends with the locals and get them to give you a free tour
Locals are friendly and are often happy to give you a free tour of their city. This can often be better than the tours you’d pay for.
DON’T: Make friends with 15 year old Serbian drum and bass fans with a passion for ‘women and weed’.
They will take you to the worst places in Serbia, get you kicked out of a pub because they are underage, follow you around and generally not leave you alone when you’d prefer to enjoy the sights of the city without a running commentary about where is the best place to pick up women.
DO: Accept gifts from locals
DON’T: Chug a whole bottle of homemade Serbian rakia in one go.
Unless you enjoy spending a night hugging your toilet.