The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Hitchhiking

Samantha Hadley and Edward Coombe, two members of Race 2 Barcelona’s winning team, 'Divine Gin,* share their tips on surviving the hitchhiking experience.  With just 36 hours to put as much distance between yourself and St Andrews in the Charity Campaign’s Jailbreak, every little helps. They’re also good prep for anyone planning on embarking on a National Rail train journey anytime soon.

*'Gin For The Win' and 'Divine Fate' teamed up to form the winning super team, 'Divine Gin'.

Did you have a game plan (if so, what was it) or did you just wing it all the way?

Samantha: Not to thumb and just ask every car and person that stopped at service and petrol stations and hope for the best!

Edward:  Having done Race2Munich last year, I knew that I wanted to get to a service station as soon as possible and island-hop from there. However, I also knew that you can’t have a plan. It's all up to the big man in the sky and how your karma is coming along, rather than any genius game plan.

What was the highlight of the race (aside from winning) and the lowlight?

Samantha: My highlight was meeting so many interesting people and making good friends in the other teams!  The lowlight was waiting outside of an Edinburgh roundabout for a good 2 hours in the wind and cold, thumbing and getting absolutely nowhere.

Edward: The highlight, other than travelling with three lovely people having a great time, was a lift with a French businessman (Christophe) who spoke no English.  He was on the way to Marseille which wasn't quite on our route. It was one in the morning, he was on his way home and I knew which route we wanted to go ,but knew he would have to go backwards to go forwards. Then without telling us, Christophe takes the turning towards Perpignan and Barcelona and drives a whole 2 hours out of his way to take us to a nice service station with many trucks. It was acts of this generous nature that makes hitch-hiking such a wonderful experience.

There are of course lowlights, thankfully for us there were probably only a couple. The worst was being dropped off after our second lift on the Edinburgh bypass, meeting other racers who had actually not moved anywhere from the beginning. We had taken 6 hours to go effectively 0 miles. Thumbing on the side of the road for 2 hours, whilst people sarcastically wave at you brought the horrific memories of last year in Race2Munich, where the same thing happened. Thinking, why, why did I agree to do this again?!

What would you do differently, if you had another chance?

Samantha: I would learn a few phrases in the language of the countries that I was travelling through and take more pictures along the way during the hitchhike itself.

Edward: Wouldn't change anything for the world


Most useless item you packed?

Samantha: The most useless thing that I brought with me was a head torch…didn't need it at all or the pocket knife (didn't use that until in Barcelona to open wine bottles).

Edward: My language skills, once we became 'Divine Gin' everyone else was better at French, Spanish and Italian than me.


Number one tip for future racers?

Samantha: Don't hesitate or be afraid to confront people, even if they don't speak the language you can.  Some people look like they don't want to talk to you but do it anyway and you might be surprised with their response!

Edward: Stay happy and positive and don’t be afraid to take a break to keep moral high. No one picks up grumpy people.


Images courtesy of i.w. iott (title image), Antonio Rino Gastaldi and Sara Cuadrado. Compiled by Lucy Thomas.