Vojta Šplinar

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Project #1 — Low Cost Travelling

(Czech Republic — Slovakia — Austria — Germany)

As I promised in the previous post, here is the article, detaily following the way how Couchsurfing and Hitchhiking can work in real life, with times, expenses and all the stuff around. Low cost traveling in all its best!

Note: Article is from 29.6.2014

Topics:

Hi, its been a couple of months since I started with my first trip around Europe in style — see as much as possible and spend the smallest mount of money. During these few months I already met a lot of really awesome and amazing people, and the same about places. People often ask me where I’m taking time, courage, money, etc for my trips.

Because summer time is here (even if weather looks different sometimes), and its beginning of holidays for students, I decided for small project to introduce and show you, how does this “low cost traveling” actually work in a real low cost way, not the one, which is presented to us everyday from travel agencies 🙂

According to fact, that I like challenges, I decided try to travel as many countries as possible for lowest costs and time. I come from small city on the west of Czech Republic called Karlovy Vary. That’s why I choose route through Czech Republic — Slovakia — Austria — Germany. This entire circle is about 1100km.

One from the first things we have to consider is an accommodation. I’m active couchsurfer and this is one from the main reasons for this article. I would like to introduce this project more people, which until now maybe didn’t now what it is, and how does it works.

** Couchsurfing.org** is a project working already for several years. We can say that simple description is „Facebook for travellers”. Network connects people with similar interests like traveling, meeting new faces, cultures, languages and places around the globe. There is registered almost 5, 6 millions of people from all over the world, living in 120 000 different cities. Basic idea of this project is meeting with new people, who can help you with spending night and time in foreign city/country, learn something about it in a way which no travel agency or guide can offer you even for the highest prices!

You have possibility to meet locals, and all this for free! In return for their hospitality and kindness, you can host them next time during their visit in your country. Don’t confuse Couchsurfing with a free hotel! That’s not the way how does it work! Simply register on CS website, fill your profile and next step is just to decide which direction is your next trip 🙂

Then you will search for a city, and in list of couchsurfers you can choose a person which interests you more and whose outlook on life is close to you. Because you’re not looking just for a place to sleep, it’s more about meeting new culture, new person, most probably also your future friend. Everything else is just about mutual communication and time conditions. It is a basic introduction, how CS works.

If more great people will be involved to this project, the better experiences we can have on our journeys!

Another issue which must be solved during traveling is a transport. What is it hitchhiking I guess don’t need to be explained.
But it raises a many questions about safety, etc. I personally know many people who travel by hitchhiking, and they have never experienced totally bad situation, from hitchhikers, as well as drivers.

Of course, there is always a risk for both sides. It’s all about trust. Thanks to hitchhiking I met many interesting people and their life stories are more than inspiring.

So it’s just up to you, if you would decide to use this way of transport, the same for Couchsurfing. More good hitchhikers on the road, better experiences and easiest traveling for travellers and drivers.

Also don’t forget, that in every country is hitchhiking different. Some nations aren’t so use to it, some others are more. For example, my experiences between Poland and Czech Republic. In Poland was average time for HH about 30–40 minutes, in CZ about 1–2 hours. And much bigger differences are between east and west. So be patient and smile!

During this short but amazing trip, I was writing all my cars, times, places and cities. I also wrote all costs.

19.6.2014 — Thursday

List of stops and cities:

KARLOVY VARY (CZ) — BRATISLAVA (SK) — 459 KM = 8,5H

During entire trip I used cars and then trucks. Demonstration of how small is world and that there is many happy coincidences, is the fact that my last HH from gas station few km from Bratislava was with a drummer of famous Slovak punk-rock band Iné Kafé and his girlfriend, thank you guys!

In Bratislava I met my CS Lucia, even if she was a quite busy; she showed me the city center, told me something about its history and because she’s an architect, it was very interesting talk!

Thanks to her I met also another locals, tasted local beer and food. It was great! Also another case of how small is world was random meeting in pancake bistro with Agustina, traveller from Argentina and also couchsurfer.

Costs in Bratislava (SK)

20.6. — 21.6.2014 — Friday & Saturday

In Europe you will not find any similar case of two capital cities that would be so close together as Bratislava (SK) and Vienna (A). The distance between them is only 78 km!

List of stops and cities:

BRATISLAVA (SK) — VIENNA (A) — 78 KM = 3H

After arrival to Vienna, driver Hans gave me a bottle of water and offered possibility of accommodation (sometimes universe works for you — big thanks Hans!)

Then I went to city center, met with another CS Paul. We met in the past when he was traveling though Czech, so it was really nice to see him again. Unique accommodation in center of Vienna in a former club, reconstructed to huge flat with entrance directly from the street was totally amazing and special!

Paul introduced me to his flat mates, friends, and showed me the city. Vienna is interesting and beautiful historical city and I met many interesting people there. Thanks to this I saw Vienna from typical touristic viewpoint (monuments, churches, cathedrals, etc.), but also from viewpoint of locals (pubs, how the life goes there, talk with several street artists and musicians, public football viewing on campus, etc.)

Costs in Vienna (A)

22.6.2014 — Sunday

List of stops and cities from Vienna (A) to Regensburg (De):

VIENNA (A) — REGENSBURG (DE) — 394KM = 5H

On the way to Regensburg I met other interesting faces, first was a taxi driver originally from Nigeria, living in Vienna (he gave me money for a bottle of water — big thanks!) And second one was Sebastian, film maker from Vienna living in France. We had really nice talk and his document was also on Karlovy Vary International Film Festival!

After my arrival I walked around city center and cathedral on square. Regensburg is a small historical city. Later I met Andi and he showed me other interesting places there. Because I did everything faster than was my expectation, I challenged myself to continue with my journey to try to finish this challenge 4 countries in 4 days!

Andi helped me found a place and highway in direction to Weiden (De) and Karlovy Vary (CZ) (big thanks for everything!). And let’s go hitchhiking again!

On HH spot I arrived quite late, it was already 19:00 and sun was going slowly down. There wasn’t really big mount of cars, and it was Sunday, not really ideal time to hitchhike.

Quite soon some small car stopped and inside was a young woman and she was really polite and wanted to help me, unfortunately was going to different direction and just few km out of town, so we said goodbye and I continued with HH. Maybe in about 15 minutes she was back, smiling and asking if I have a minute, to go with her to manage some things and then she can help me! I was really glad (also shocked that she was back :)) and accepted her offer. Few minutes later we were walking with Steffi on a small farm with her ponies! She’s a pony breeder! Another amazing and really funny moment, what kind of experience you can have even during hitchhiking!

Then she took me maybe 20–30km far from Regensburg just to help me as she promised and went back (big thank you Steffi!)

Next good soul I met was a young German soldier, originally from Venezuela. Very interesting conversation about army and political situation! He also helped me more than he had to and took me also maybe around 30km far from his direction to Cheb in Czech Republic (big thanks!)

In Cheb I was already celebrating with a cup of coffee on a gas station success of my challenge because I already crossed the borders. I enjoyed sunset, upcoming night, and was waiting for next drivers.

My last driver was a doctor from Sokolov around 20km far from Karlovy Vary, working in Germany. Originally he wanted to take me just to Sokolov but during our conversation he changed and took me directly to Karlovy Vary almost few steps from my home! (big thanks!)

So the last day was really funny and successful, I travelled 3 countries in 1 day. And this was the end of my small challenge/project and journey.

Costs during way from Vienna(A) to Regensburg(De) and KV (CZ):

REGENSBURG (DE) — KARLOVY VARY (CZ) — 177KM = 4H

Summary of the journey — (19. — 22.6.2014)

Big thanks to all drivers, couchsurfers and friends. See you on the road! Where the wind takes us!

For more pictures from my trips check out my Instagram! :)

Originally published at www.splinar.cz on September 28, 2015.