I hitchhiked 1,500 miles across Europe - these are the biggest things I learned


race 2 map

Brittany Kriegstein

The online racer map that allowed family and friends to follow our progress through updates we sent to the safety team.

I'm a 5-foot, 2-inch girl from Long Island, New York. I don't exactly look like someone who should be hitchhiking anywhere, let alone hundreds of miles across Europe.


But when I heard about the opportunity to hitchhike for charity from my university in Scotland to Madrid in Spain, I jumped at the chance.

Every year, my university holds an event called Race 2, which is a hitchhike race to a European city (the location changes every year), in order to raise money for a selection of local and global charities. Racers have to raise a certain amount of money to participate, and are encouraged to accept donations along the way.

Competitors team up in groups of two or three (with at least one male, for safety reasons) and the main rule is that all transportation from start to finish must be donated by others. Cars are the easiest option, but trains, planes, and buses are also acceptable if other people have paid the competitors' fare.

Of course, spending personal money on food and lodging is permitted. And as another safety precaution, competitors must send location updates every four hours to safety teams that track everyone's progress and are trained to respond accordingly to signs of distress.


Surprisingly, my parents didn't seem exceptionally worried when I told them about my plans to partake in this adventure (I neglected to mention that the safety teams were made up of students just like me). So, with a backpack full of necessities, some official-looking Race 2 documentation, and a giant foam thumb, my teammate Jakob and I set out with the other racers on a cold January morning.

The big racer bus dropped us off around 6 a.m. at a service station just outside of Edinburgh. The journey that spanned the following four days was by far the coolest thing I have ever done in my life. Here are some of the things I learned along the way.