Yes I guess, but if you spent even a day with the dumpster diving community in New Orleans your perspective would be subject to a sharp u-turn.
Think about all the food thats wasted in the US, all that out of date food which is really still very much edible. The pizza no-one collected. The bread with one tiny spec of mold.
I was familiar with the comcept of dumpster diving for a while before New Orleans. The book “Evasion” by Crimeinc gives a great introduction.
I was a rookie at the sport however compared to Tom and Marc.
Tom has built a hut out of materials he has found in dumpsters and bamboo while living on dumpstered food and rainwater.
Marc had a job as a delivery driver. At the same time he constantly scouted the best dumpsters such as whole-foods to provide himself with a healthy three meal a day diet of free food. A soda could be got as he demonstrated in Burger Kin by finding an empty cup in the bin and availing of the “free refills” policy.
Did they ever get sick? No
Did I? No
And they arent the only ones availing of free food, the punk concert are full of dumpster divers who group around campfires sharing their finds from their eveing diving in dunpsters with headlamps on.
On top of all this they both drank rainwater.
A way to eat good food for free, and it helps the enviornment too with all that reduced waste. Probably dosent work so good in less wasteful countries though of course.
Tom´s property is even on Air BnB, come stay in a tent and the food is free.
The prices of everyday backpacking necessities in Europe such as pasta, beer, buses and hostels will vary greatly depending on your area. Needless to say if your a broke bagpacker then head East (especially if you smoke) to save money backpacking Europe.
As a general rule Scandinavia and Iceland are the most expensive (around €25 for a bed in a hostel dorm). You will probably feel short here too.
Then comes Western Europe or the countries which use the Euro currency, the UK and Switzerland (around €15 for a bed in a hostel dorm).
Then there’s Central Europe, the EU countries without the Euro like Hungary, Poland and Croatia (around €10 for a bed in a hostel dorm).
Eastern Europe comes a big sickle and hammer Soviet first, cheapest but definitely not least interesting. All of the Eastern countries that are outside of the EU such as Ukraine, Albania and Serbia. (Around €5 for a bed in a hostel dorm).
Turkey doesn’t geographically apply to the rules because of it’s stupidly high alcohol taxes and the fact it’s more developed then Eastern Europe. So to avoid any confusion let’s just leave Istanbul in the Asia category.
Getting accommodation without paying for it will certainly help keep your travels prolonged. Couchsurfing isn’t always straight forward but it certainly can work wonders and isn’t just limited to writing requests on Couchsurfing.org.
You can try posting on back-packer FB pages to find hosts or meet people at Couchsurfing meetings. Be positive and outgoing and you should be able to find a host in every city that has over a million people.
Girls will have no problem finding a host.
Guys won’t be successful just sending requests to hot girls unfortunately.
Keep in mind that Couchsirfing isn’t just about free accommodation but rather getting to know locals. Your host will want you to be a good guest who shows an interest in the countries culture, if your just here to party then stick with the hostels.
3) Pasta Diet
Time to pack in the three course meals and drunken kebabs. Pasta cooked in the hostel kitchen will suffice to keep you alive, add tuna on a Sunday for extra nourishment.
4) Responsible Pre-Drinking
Budweiser or Guinness? No, how about two bottles of the cheapest yet strong wine to wash down that pasta with then head out.
5) Shop Around with your Cash
The exchange shops furthest from tourist attractions and train stations will offer better exchange rates.
6) Bring a Student Card
Student discounts creep up in cities with high student populations like Budapest regularly.
7) Forget Taxis
Just work out the cities local public transport, ask people at the metro or tram stations. Most young folk in Europe have enough English to help.
Better still just walk
8) Free Maps
Maps can usually be got free at your Hostel, or use screenshots from Google Maps.
9) Free Walking Tours
Every city has them, and a small tips is all that’s expected in return for a tour. Ask at your hostel.
9) Book Hostels Online in Advance
You will probably get a better deal if you book online using websites like Hostelworld.
At least use the search function to find the cheapest hostel’s location and rates.
10) Work Exchange
Websites such as Workaway, Woofing and HelpX offer backpackers the opportunity to find places to do a few hour’s work (usually five) a day in exchange for free food and a bed. Jobs can vary from farming and labouring to language help and cooking. Signing up costs around €30 though yearly.
Asking in hostels too (especially Central and Eastern Europe) might land you a free bed in exchange for some cleaning work.
11) Hitchhiking in Europe
Of course I would suggest that you hitchhike, but it’s by far to best way to reduce travel costs. I have went thousands of km without paying a penny. I don’t car to know what these journeys would of cost in train tickets.
Hitchhiking in Europe often lands you some free food too or drink with generous drivers.
12) Bring a Tent
Works best when hitchhiking since the chances of being out in the open countryside are higher. A tent and sleeping bag gives you the freedom to sleep anywhere for free.
13) Cheap Airlines
Keep an eye on Skyscanner, airlines such as Ryanair and Wizz Air often have ridiculously cheap flights, I’ve flown Dublin to Glasgow for €9 in the past.
Don’t bother…. Unless the foods exceptional that is, or you fancy the waitress/waiter.
15) Don’t use your phone
Keep Mammy posted through Skype, Email, FB or with a drunken message in a bottle cast into the Danube (all free).
Don’t feel the need to text her all your terrible selfies.
Have your own secrets to save money backpacking Europe, then be sure to let us know by leaving a comment.
Driving to Turkey with a UK car was not much trouble. I had an Irish driver’s license and my friend Connor had a British License (the car was under his name).
The car was a Peugeot 206 by no means flash or fancy.
We were clearly two young guys who could be carrying lots of alcohol or weed too in the eyes of the border police.
This is some sort of road tax, required in some European countries (Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary included). We got caught out at the Romania – Bulgaria border for not buying one. The fine was over 200 euro, a 50 dollar bribe sufficed though in our case.
It’s better to get one though at the first petrol station you find (usually less than 10 euro for a month).
We never bought one in Turkey and I don’t think you need one, instead you pay motorway tolls.
These can’t be paid by cash or credit card. Instead you register your car registration at a PTT (Yellow Post office in Turkey) to enroll in the system and credit your account. Then every-time you pass a toll the cameras will charge your account.
At least that’s the jist of what I was told.
I was told in theory that every-time we passed through the toll without this set-up we were receiving a fine, the cameras had the registration after all. If my friend didn’t receive the fine by mail we would be charged when we drove the car over the Georgia border.
In reality we drove though many tolls on our way across Turkey to Georgia, setting of an alarm every single time. In reality also much to our relieve the Turkish police’s computers at the Trabzon to Batumi border did not know that we had skipped all the tolls across the countries northern coast. We never paid this fee.
I would recommend you do visit a PTT if staying in Turkey a while though, we could of just got lucky in the smaller 206 which didn’t catch attention.
First Aid Kit, Fire Extinguisher and Two Warning Triangles
Never checked at the border but you might aswell buy these bits, we got them all as a kit in a Practikar in Bulgaria for about 15 euro.
Nope, I’m Irish and Connor is Scottish (the failed referendum was soon) so we decided that we could talk our way out of this one if we got caught, never did get questioned about the sticker.
Seen this mentioned on a sign, ignored and never questioned. Can’t see the point once your dims work fine.
Certificate of Ownership
Something that will prove you own the car, like the log book with your name written on it just the same as on your passport.
Something that will prove your insured inside the EU, probably not needed but bring it anyway in-case.
Cash is King for Insurance
Cash (Euros) to buy Turkish Insurance. Pounds are probably good too but not Scottish pounds for some stupid reason. Best to just have Euro at the end of the day.
The cost will vary depending on your car size, we got the diesel 206 insured for 6 months (no shorter period allowed for us) in Turkey for around 60 euro. This was cheaper then the signs suggested so be sure to try chat with the border police, I’m sure it’s a bit at their discretion to give a good price.
You will get a printed certificate of insurance, keep it with the car at all times. In our case either of us could lawfully drive the car (both full license) but a crash would be liable to Connor (the owner).
You always have your dipped lights on here, even during the brightest days by law.
Be prepared for a search of the car, they didn’t look rigorous but don’t be bringing tonnes of Alcohol into Turkey (even though it’s a good idea since its far more expensive than Bulgaria). No recreational drugs either, Marijuana is a big deal in Muslim countries, a prison cell big deal.
Turks are dangerous drivers, be careful on the roads and expect that 30 foot truck to over-take you on the bend. Good idea to always have a passenger to help you with over-taking since you will be driving on the right-hand side of the road in a left-hand side car.
Istanbul is insane to try drive around with a population of like 20 million, bring a sat-nav.
So what do I need to hitchhike the world? First aid kit maybe, or a shotgun for safety.
Nope its really and simply not anything drastic, and the smaller your bagpack the more enjoyable your journey will be.
Water / Snacks
No matter how short the journey bring water, even if there’s no chance of getting stuck somewhere carrying a bagpack is definetly thirsty work.
Felt Tip Marker
What else for making those artistic signs.
Can usually be found around bins or asking in shops. If your going to be away from the cities then pack some just incase to make your sign.
To start a campfire or light a cigarette, never know when a lighter will be needed.
Clean yourself for fucks sake.
Good to offer your driver or share with others on the road, especially in Eastern Europe.
Map / Compass
A map of course for finding your way around, where there is a language barrier just pointing at the map will do the job. I bring a compass too when hiking a bit off the beaten track.
Always useful in emergencies, when hungry or maybe you will need to catch a bus to get to your hitchhiking spot. Hitchhiking without money is for the more experienced traveller.
When travelling any long distances its essential. Pack for the expected weather conditions.
Tent / Camping Bed / Tarp / Hammock
If you plan on camping of course, if you do get stuck outside by accident a sleeping bag is more useful then a tent. Many people don’t bother if just moving from one city to the next one and staying in hostels or couchsurfing.
A tent is the most common camping gear yet its heavy (never 100% waterproof) and a pain to set-up and pack-up everyday. Only really needed in colder weather, provides the best security too since your bag can’t be seen.
A hammock is my favorite method of sleeping outside, especially in warmer climates, just getting off the ground feels so nice and they pack so light. A mosquito net too is essential for anywhere with bugs. You can tie your bag on the ground to the hammock too so that if anyone tries to steal your bag you fell feel the vibrations. Get inventive and maybe stuff your bag up the tree tied to the hammocks ropes.
A tarp is light, trustworthy and can be used in so many ways. Over a hammock it provides rain shelter, you can cook under a tarp in the rain. In stealth camping situations I usually just get in my sleeping bag and roll up in my tarp too. Fast, effective and light. Dosent keep bugs out though like a tent does. Tarp, sleeping bag and hammock are my choice, and I wear extra layers in cold weather.
To cook some lovely pasta over the campfire. Only if you expect to cook though, otherwise its just a heavy burden.
If you ever get bored on the road then bring a book.
Not just for emergencies and crossing borders, I was once asked by a driver if he could check my passport before giving me a lift.
Phone(One with Flash-lamp and Wi-Fi)
In case of emergencies or maybe you will find new contacts on the road. Wi-fi is very useful in towns, just stand outside a café and use their internet to locate a hostel or your couchsurfing host.
If you want to capture the moments on the road.
Small Umbrella / Sun Screen
An umbrella isn’t needed if your hitchhiking in Iran, however do plan for the expected weather.
Reflective Arm Band and Flash Lamp
Night time hitchhiking can occasionally occur. I don’t recommend it though, you should try start early in the morning.
Instrument or Art Materials
How do you make money on the road if you end up living this lifestyle for more than a few months, harmonica or selling bracelets?
Remain positive, be brave and don’t give up. I have often found the most useful lifts when at my wits ends on the side of the road after hours of walking.
Is there something different that you pack? Let us know.
Why hitchhike alone? Most people ask me, aren’t you afraid of every possible conceivable thing that could go wrong?
It was close to midnight and I was stranded at the side of a motorway near the Austria–Hungary border. I was standing in an area for trucks to pull in and take a nap, and there wasn’t a petrol station in sight to say the least. The only other people at the spot were two Romani gypsy’s in a Spanish registered Transit van, paying me no attention.
Times like this I curse the road and wonder what I’m at in my life to be here, nowhere and down to my last cigarette.
In the pitch blackness I couldn’t see anywhere ideal to camp and I was depressed, cold and hungry. It all can change so fast though, and suddenly a gesture from another person can bring you onto a whole new high, making the stress all worth while.
I saw a Swizz registered car pull in and out gets a Hungarian looking man to take a piss, he looked in his early thirties, bald and wearing a business shirt. I make my way over.
“Excuse me but I’m trying to use autostop to go to Munich?”
“Hello, where are you from?”
“Ireland, I’m a tourist”
“Yes, Munich is no problem get in, I am driving to Zurich” .
It’s that simple really, once you remain patient even when at your limit, yet without a doubt the question I get asked most is “why?”. I guess for me there are four main reasons.
1) Saving Cash: The most obvious but not only reason, sure you save money by not needing to pay for transport and if you bring a sleeping bag you might even save on accommodation too. Whether it be sleeping in a truck or in a wilderness far from cities.
2) Meeting People: It is by far the bet method to meet locals when traveling, people who don’t intend to meet tourists and aren’t trying to sell you something. Real genuine people just going about their day who were sound enough to offer a lift.
I have learnt so much history and picked up words of the local languages from trying to string together a conversation with the driver and made many great friends, contacts to help find work and even got set-up on a date with one Serbian driver’s daughter!
3)Personal Growth: Every time you talk to a stranger you step outside your comfort zone a little.
“What if I get mugged?”.
All these new experiences meeting strange people will be pushing your fear to the limit.
This will cause change in your perception of the world, after a while standing on the side of the road with your thumb up you will eventually lose any care for what others think of you and the people you will meet along the way will restore your faith in humanity.
“I couldn’t even imagine getting mugged.”
4)The Rollercoaster: the emotional ups and downs as perceived in the opening paragraph becomes addictive. Buses and trains will seem so uneventful in comparison to the randomness of hitch-hiking.
Variety being the spice of life then you are sure to have some eventful stories to tell the grand-kids someday from the road.
Why not hit the road yourself and discover a new adventure every day?
Leave any questions about hitch-hiking in the comments section and I will be happy to reply.