I’ve created a short video which follows my 3000km hitchhike from Sheffield to the Arctic Circle. The video focuses on my side of a 7-day race against Chris, who was tasked with cycling 600km over some very mountainous terrain. We didn’t manage to combine our footage during our short meet up, but you can check out Chris’ video following his Norwegian cycling adventure here. This challenge, along with Chris’ much larger cycle ride from the UK to Australia, was to raise money for the Association of International Cancer Research (AICR).

I hope you can appreciate from the video, the hitchhike was extremely hard work. Aside from the glorious scenery, it involved a colossal amount of frustration, physical endurance and sleepless nights. Please recognise my fundraising effort by making a donation towards cancer research here. If you don’t think my efforts are worthy of a donation, then please make one to support Chris’ epic, 30,000km cycle ride from the UK to Australia. That, without doubt, is worthy of a donation!

So… hitchhiking…

The highs of hitchhiking…

– meeting such warm and wonderful people of all backgrounds

– benefitting from people’s local knowledge of an area and getting a real, genuine insight into a country’s culture

– embracing the unknown – who knows who you will meet, or where you will end up…

– a free way to travel the world (my entire journey to the Arctic cost nothing other than the cost of food)

– travelling in an environmentally friendly manner

The lows of hitchhiking…

– patience is a virtue essential – the waiting can be enormously frustrating and it can often feel like a lift will never be offered (I met someone who had been waiting three days for a lift on the M25!)

– it can be exhausting – not just physically, but also having to be friendly and talkative with every lift when often you just want to sleep

– missing out on sightseeing – as it’s difficult to hitchhike from city centres or quieter roads, you often daren’t stray from major roads and can miss out on the traditional tourist sites and destinations

– the food – you very quickly grow tired of service station food (I’d hitchhiked to Bochum in Germany before I managed to find fresh fruit and vegetables)

Is it safe?

Of course, hitchhiking is not entirely without risk. However, in my experience I only received lifts from the kindest, most generous of people. At no point during my trip did I feel at risk (other than some questionable driving at times!). In my opinion, as long as you are streetwise then hitchhiking should present no greater risks than many other things we do in life. A note for female hitchhikers: you are not alone! On my journey, I met plenty of lone, female hitchhikers who also had a very positive outlook on this endangered transportation method.

The verdict…

I can highly recommend hitchhiking as a form of travel, however there is a condition attached to this recommendation. If you are travelling without a plan, and do not need to be at a destination at a precise point in time, then hitchhiking is fantastic. However, the pressure of knowing you have to arrive at your destination at a specific time adds a considerable amount of stress to traveling. This journey was undoubtedly one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I only hope that more people challenge themselves to undertake their own hitchhiking adventure…

A few thank you’s…

Here is a full list of the people whose kindness and generosity carried me a total of 3412 kilometres from Sheffield to the Arctic Circle. My thanks to each and every one of these brilliant people…

Day 1: Sheffield to Ashford near Dover (418km)

1. Sheffield to the A34 – 80km – a Pagan en route to a pilgrimage at Stone Henge
2. Loughborough – 12km – the psych rock band Toba Caldera
3. Northampton – 72km – a model trains dealer
4. Stevenage – 96km – an older, ex-military gent
5. M25 services – 24km – tattoo-strewn father with two young kids
6. Dartford – 51km – Irish army troop commander
7. Across Dartford Crossing – 3km – cyclist shuttle service
8. Maidstone – 40km – rescued after long walk and wait by lovely Cockney bloke
9. Ashford – 28km – young traveller couple barely old enough to drive!
10. M20 J10 – 12km – van driver travelling home

Day 2: Ashford – Venlo (433km)

11. Dover – 35km – only lone female lift giver, a social worker
12. Calais – 48km – Abdullah, a Chadian businessman
13. Eindhoven – 290km – Vasili, a Romanian truck driver
14. Venlo – 60km – very speedy Irish guy

Day 3: Venlo – Hamburg (438km)

15. Essen – 65km – Babba, a Malian truck driver who saved me from the wilderness of Venlo!
16. Bochum – 18km – young Turkish couple
17. Munster – 75km – German teacher and politics enthusiast
18. Hamburg – 280km – Bjorn, founder of www.carpooling.co.uk and other lift sharing sites, and my host in Hamburg, Marcus

Day 4: Hamburg – Oslo (983km)

19. Lubeck – 70km – German car dealer
20. Oldenburg – 58km – Joern, a German courier and regular hitchhiker lift giver
21. Puttgarden – 35km – group of young German people
–Ferry to Denmark (40km)–
22. Copenhagen – 160km – William, Swedish telecoms technician
23. Malmo – 40km – Swedish factory manager
24. Helsingborg – 65km – Kristoffer, Swedish ex-NATO officer
25. Laholm – 63km – Swedish serial entrepreneur & fish farmer
26. Oslo – 452km – Bulgarian truck driver

Day 5: Oslo – Steinkjer (693km)

27. Alna – 5km – Bangladeshi courier
28. E6 north – 10km – Swedish rubbish collector
29. E6 north – 10km – Swedish van driver
30. Steinkjaer – 668km – Piotr, Polish truck driver

Day 6: Steinkjer – Semska-Stodi (447km)

31. Semska-Stodi – 447km – Piotr again (1115km travelled together in total)

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About Jon Maiden

Founder of Goalvanise which enables people to create their Life List online, and inspires and supports them to achieve their life goals. Check out the Goalvanise blog here or my personal blog here.

4 responses »

  1. adammatich says:

    Fab video dude – best yet!

    Big love

    Adam

  2. […] I sought out the most exposed scrambles the UK has to offer in order to challenge my vertigo. I hitchhiked over 3000km to the Arctic Circle in only 6 […]

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  4. […] Hitchhiking to the Arctic Circle […]

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