Haven been on the road now for a few months and nervously peeking at my bank's account history, conventional modes of public transportation can absolutely take a toll. Airlines such as RyanAir and EasyJet are dirt cheap for traveling throughout Europe. For land traveling, I adore EuroLines for its constant promotional deals (ex: I went from Belgium to the Netherlands for barely 20 Euros). And, typically, I like to avoid trains just because the costs are fairly steep and just not worth it when you're alone for many...many hours!
Although I have encountered various other travelers and backpackers to guide me toward affordable ways of traveling - - the key to successful long-term traveling is using your creativity...and sometimes, taking risks.
Is hitchhiking safe or what?
I would assume that most might say no, absolutely not. To be honest, I have only hitched twice (well, two and half now) in my life. The first time I was with my then boyfriend at the age of 14 or 15 - - we were walking up on a long hill while it was pouring rain and I had suggested hitching a ride up the hill to avoid catching a nasty cold. It was fine then. The second time I hitchhiked was actually when I got into a car crash at the age of 17, in the middle of nowhere. I had no means to get myself to the city to phone my family, so what did I do? I confidently (and desperately) stuck my little thumb out into the world and got picked up by a van full of old ladies.
Today, I had the pleasure of trying out what I like to call 'Modern Hitchhiking'. It's sort of like couchsurfing but for cars! I met a few gals in Paris that highly recommended this website:
You pop onto the website, find a driver that is heading into the destination you are seeking, make contact via email/phone, and voila! Before you know it, you're paying the driver maybe 15 Euros to go from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Lille, France. Pleasantly surprised, I made a friend today - - she is a passionate film maker that just moved to Lille, a woman with many interesting thoughts and ideas - - all of which I absolutely enjoyed hearing about! We shared stories the whole duration of the trip and now, plan to keep in contact.
To answer the above question, is it safe or not? Well, the experiences are going to differ from person to person, day by day. I can't really answer the question. As always, be aware of your surroundings and continue using your street-smarts. I feel that it is quite easy to pick up bad vibes from others to determine the next best decision. It just depends on your perspective and how creative (or bold) you want to be on your travels!
Don't be that guy...he looked lost! Oh no!
Welcome to Lille, France!