Hitchhiking in the Middle of the Night: What’s It Really Like?!
One of the major costs while travelling is transport. There are various ways of getting from point A to point B, some cheaper than others. Most of the time, buses seem to be the cheapest (and longest) option. The one that costs absolutely nothing is hitchhiking, which is the top option for budget travellers. As much as we love doing this, we really wish we didn’t experience hitchhiking in the middle of the night.
Hitchhiking is great! Not only it’s free, but it’s an excellent opportunity to get close to locals. Most of the time, they are very open to conversations. At first, it was really an activity that got us out of our comfort zone, as obviously, we weren’t used to hitching rides with random strangers. However, this blog isn’t about how to hitchhike or the benefits of it – we’ll leave that for later. The following is the reason why hitchhiking should only be done within the light of the day!
It was our last night in Germany. Our flight was the first one to depart from Baden-Baden at around 5.00 a.m. We had an amazing Couchsurfing experience in Karlsruhe and unfortunately, it was time to leave. We planned the latest trip we found on Google Maps, which included a local tram, a train, and a bus to arrive at Baden-Baden airport at around 3.00 a.m. All seemed absolutely fine!
Guided by our host, we hopped on the tram which got us to the train station. After that we jumped directly on the train heading south. Everything worked out perfectly until … until we hopped out of the train. Yes, it was the right stop. However, the station where the bus was supposed to depart at 1.00 a.m. was empty, like dead empty.
We created ourselves a comfy little platform (as comfy as the floor can get) made of dirty clothes and the backpacks themselves. We waited … and waited. As the clock had shown 1.30 a.m. we knew that there was no way the bus was coming now. At that time, a train conductor stepped out of a random train. We rushed there to tell him about our situation but he kept insisting that he never heard of such bus number. The next bus due to leave from here was at 4.00 a.m. That’s not gonna work for us!
No buses, trains nor taxis while our flight leaves in about 3 hours. The first option that came to mind was walking it, a 2-hour walk. We agreed that it should work and set off as quickly as possible. After maybe 10-minutes of walking, a police car stopped us, asking where we were off to and if everything was alright. As we explained the situation, they seriously insisted not to continue the journey as the road passes through a dangerous part in the forest.
Great! Now What?!
We were scared, but kind of relieved for a few seconds as honestly thought that they were going to offer us a ride to the airport. Hmm, it’s not that easy. They just wished us luck and drove away. As we wouldn’t go against the advice of two local police officers, the only option left was to try and hitchhike.
The clock was ticking and we proceeded by walking close to the ramp which led to the highway we needed to get onto. Cars were rarely passing by, but one of the very few stopped by and offered us a ride. With minimal understanding of English, he understood where we were going and we were on our way. He seemed a nice guy, although not in the best state of mind.
The driver explained that he had just finished a 12-hour shift and was driving back home, across the border in France. He was doing multiple things while driving – grabbing food from the glove compartment, pouring coffee out of his thermos, making eye contact with us in the back seat and smoking one cigarette after the other. And the speed, oh God! The speed! He was constantly trying to communicate with us while driving at least at 130km/h. We didn’t know such a car can go that fast!
Breathe in…. Breathe out
We were scared to death! In a maximum of 10 minutes, we were in front of the airport terminal, catching our breath and feeling like we’ve stepped out of a huge rollercoaster. We spent the journey deep in thought about all the advice we constantly get to be careful in such situations. This was terrifying! In the end, we got there in one piece at around 3.30 a.m., with plenty of time ahead of our flight. It was surreal and we just hope we wouldn’t have to experience hitchhiking in the middle of the night once and for all!