Ondra and I were feeling overwhelmed. We had both spent the last year in different alternate universes of some sort, and the shock of modern British life – the emphasis on earning and spending money, the disconnection from nature and each other, the constant onslaught of information, the depressing state of politics… etc. – was getting us down.
We needed a holiday.
“But I can’t afford a holiday!” I was concerned. How could I go swaning off on holiday when I had very little savings and no current income?
It was silly, really – I had just spent a year without money and I had often traveled very cheaply in the past. But I was falling into the trap of thinking that a holiday had to mean spending a shitload of money on travel, accommodation etc.
“We just need to pack a bag, and walk out of the door.” O made it sound so simple.
He had done a few long hitchhiking trips in the previous year that we had spent apart: Czech Republic to Croatia, England to Czech Republic and some jaunts around Germany and Holland. I’ve done very little hitchhiking in the past – just day trips in Ireland and Cornwall – but we have a shared dream of hitchhiking to India that we’ve been talking about for years.
We both have commitments in the UK to be back for in May, which means we can’t go too far and we can’t be too flexible with our return journey. We want to go somewhere with plenty of sunshine, a friendly atmosphere and cheap food. Spain seems to tick all the boxes.
So, we decided to book some budget transport back to the UK to make sure we’re back when we need to be. I usually try to avoid flying within Europe, but with a tight time frame to stick to (and a lack of buses in the dates we need) – it makes sense for us this time. After searching various low-cost flight websites, we found a flight on May 29th from Murcia for €25 each and booked it quick.
That leaves us with two weeks and two days to get to the southern coast of Spain. It’s time to practice our hitchhiking skills!
O hitched his way out of the UK once before by getting to Dover and finding a car with a space. He actually asked a steward where he could buy a ticket and it was the steward who suggested he just asked one of the cars if he could hop in! There’s no extra cost for drivers to take another person onto the ferry and most people are happy to.
Since we’re leaving from Brighton, we’re going to try doing the same thing from Portsmouth ferry port. That way we can get on a ferry all the way to the northern coast of Spain and then just hitch our way down to the other side. The advice online (Hitchwiki etc.) says it’s going to be tricky/ impossible, but with Portsmouth being so much closer than Dover we reckon it’s worth a try.
There’s a ferry tomorrow from Portsmouth at 5pm, so we’re going to start trying to get out of Brighton by 2 at the latest. We’re taking as little as possible, in both things and money: minimal clothing and toiletries, two blankets (one from Freecycle, one lent from Mum) and two very lightweight 2x3m tarps (£2 each from B&Q), mess tins and a metal bottle (acquired from previous project) for cooking, water bottles, notebooks, marker pens (for writing signs), various cameras, my ukulele and €100.
Whilst sorting out my belongings in storage in Brighton yesterday, I found two tins of small change I’d been collecting. So I changed all these 2ps and 1ps in one of those machines at the supermarket and got £8 to spend on emergency snack food to take with us: Peanuts, dark choc, seeded crackers, apples and teabags.
We’re ready to go!