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Seeing Europe with a Moped or hitch hiking?

My room mate and I (two 24 y.o. females) are going to be in Europe for 6 weeks and we want to see: Switzerland, Holland, France, and Italy. We are either going to hitch hike our way around or buy mopeds when we get there and then sell them when we leave. Is this practical? We really don't mind if we don't get to see everything- we just want to be over there exploring! What are the positives and negatives on each? The longer the explanation the betteR! =) thanks!

Posted by
11450 posts

Megan, have you checked out the Thorntree Forums, Lonely Planet? I think you may get alot more responses to your queries there, frankly, there are few travellers here who hitch hike,, or would consider using a moped( they are not even legal on many highways you know) .. I get that you are on a budget,, so have you looked at bus travel. Not as fast as train,, but cheaper.

Posted by
3313 posts

Megan - Bear in mind that in some areas, women standing by the roadsides are prostitutes.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you- I did also post on lonely planet. And we will have our packs and everything- I don't think we will look like prostitutes. But who knows? =) We will have to make sure to make it very clear that we just want a ridE!

Posted by
31524 posts

Megan,

Using a Moped or hitch hiking would not be the best methods to travel around Europe! Here's a few thoughts on the subject....

  • Hitch hiking may be illegal in some countries, with fines imposed either on drivers and/or hitchhikers.

  • If you have a limited time to travel, it's not a reliable way to get from point-to-point quickly.

  • The "obvious pitfalls" of hitchhiking especially for females - once you're in the vehicle, you've lost some control over the situation (you might want to see the movie Taken before you make a decision - while it's a fictional story, that sort of thing does go on in Europe). I'm an older and somewhat larger male and there's no way I'd ever use that method of travel!

  • Mopeds have limited speeds and will not be suitable for use on Motorways and "faster roads".

  • Buying a Moped in one country and selling in another may not be possible. At the least, it could take some time to sell a used Moped and with only a six week trip it's not the most practical idea.

You might want to read the Guidebook Europe Through The Back Door as it provides LOTS of information on travelling via various methods in Europe (as I recall, hitchhiking was mentioned).

You might have a look at Busabout or similar organizations, and use that for at least part of your trip. Using a combination of rail and Bus would probably be your best bet.

Good luck!

Posted by
7 posts

while I appriciate all the input- I think I am now more looking for ideas of how this WILL work! =) not will not work. Think outside the box people! We have no itenarary- could care less how long anything takes us... just there for the experience really. I've already "traveled" europe- I want to do something different!

Posted by
31524 posts

Megan,

Your initial post didn't mention that you had "travelled Europe" previously, so I assumed this was your first visit and responded accordingly.

I'd suggest you might get a greater variety of responses by posting your questions on the Thorn Tree Message Board at Lonely Planet. The group there is probably more experienced in "unusual" travel methods.

Although you "could care less how long anything takes us", you'll be limited to a certain extent by the location and timing of your return flight.

Good luck and happy travels!

Posted by
12040 posts

Although I've only done a little bicycling in Europe, I have noticed that bike lanes and trails seem to be everywhere. Considering the ease of combining a bike with rail travel when needed, this would seem to be a superior option to a Tour de Moped.

Posted by
8180 posts

Instead of the moped thing, why not bike across the countries. There are great routes to follow, bike hostels especially for this, as biking through Europe is very popular. You can actually cover a lot of distance on a bike and you can travel those routes that would be banned to a moped. Ride along the great rivers of Europe. It is safer, healthy, and you will get to meet a whole lot of people in each country. I think biking through the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Germany would be a fabulous experience and you would see so many wonderful towns and sights. So, perhaps a little thinking outside the box?

Hitchhiking is illegal in many places and I certainly would not recommend it. I did it a lot when I was younger, but that was in the 70's. It truly is not safe these days.

Posted by
8293 posts

Megan: In your initial post you asked for positives and negatives on both methods of travel (i.e. moped and hitch-hiking). You have been offered several negatives on both and no positives on either. But in a positive vein, other websites more in line with your needs have been suggested, which you have not commented on. I, for one, don't like being told to "think outside the box". Perhaps you could benefit from inside-the-box thinking yourself.

Posted by
386 posts

I am not trying to talk you out of anything, or pass judgment, Megan -
but mopeds are only marginally faster than bicycles, and bicycles you can take on most trains, but you can't do that with mopeds.
With mopeds you'd be on the road forever without getting very far.
You asked if this is practical.
my answer is: definitely not!
Now, a motor scooter in the bigger cities might be fun!
I wouldn't know if you can rent these, but I am sure you can find out.

As to hitch-hiking: I've done it myself (back in the stone-ages), but these are different times. I wouldn't recommend it at all.

Posted by
290 posts

Megan

I don't know about buying a scooter, but you could certainly train from point to point and rent them as needed, ie to ride around an area, do day trips, etc. I've ridden them in several places in Europe and it's a great way to travel, zipping around through the traffic . And, no, you don't want to get out on the motorway, but why would you need to; there are thousands of kilometers of smaller highways that are much more scenic. I have ridden many of them (although more on a Harley than a scooter) and have totally enjoyed the experience. Since you have 6 weeks, time shouldn't be an issue, so if you only travel 100 km a day who cares-it's not a race. Bikers believe that 'Life begins at the offramp' ie, you experience a lot more when you get off the 4-lane.

I'd say: if you can work out the logistics, go for it!

PS-NOT a good idea to hitch hike!

Posted by
290 posts

Oh, and by the way, you asked for negatives? If it rains you will probably get wet (or, you may have to wait it out-just consider it an opportunity to have another latte and visit)

Posted by
7 posts

My posts are not meant to offend ANYONE! There is no need for somewhat rude posts back (woman from quebec) and no need to post a post that has nothing to do with answering my question! =) that being said I have posted my question on other sites and am getting good reviews from both! I think I may have given up on the moped idea- simply because they are too expensive to rent and yes way too much seems to be going into buying them. I really wouldn't WANT to travel the highways- we really only have to cover about 100 km a day to do the whole long trip we have planned- and we don't even care if we get that far! =) we have a shorter 70 km backup trip planned =) I think the bike idea was great! I am a somewhat experienced road biker and have a decent road bike here at home. Then we could combine that with bus travel/ hitchiking when necessary to perhaps to get some of the longer distances. That is for sure something I am going to run by the room mate =) thanks for all the great suggestions/ comments!

Posted by
9363 posts

Perhaps you do not mean to offend anyone, but what Norma was saying (and what I agree with) is that saying "Think outside the box people!" IS offensive. You are basically saying that whatever suggestions you had already been offered were not good enough and we should try harder. You may not have meant to offend, but we don't need to have our suggestions put down, either. People gave you their honest opinions. There was no need to criticize them (talk about rude!). You might also keep in mind that you are speaking to a group of people who are most likely quite a bit older than you, and while it might be OK among your friends to refer to them as "people" in that context, it is disrespectful to do so to those older than you. (This is probably the first time I have ever pulled "age" on anyone, but in this case it's warranted).

Posted by
4555 posts

Megan....like some of the others, I, too, did the hitchiking thing in the early 70's....across Canada and much of the U.S., and through western Europe. But no one hitchikes in Europe these days for the same reasons no one does it here in North America any more...it's illegal in most places, and there are too many wackos out there. It's a shift in our society over the past 30-odd years, and no amount of thinking outside the box is going to change that. The bike idea sounds good, but remember that road biking/racing is a whole lot different from travelling by bike with all your worldly goods with you. You can't cycle very far with a fully-loaded knapsack on your back, so you'll have to invest in proper packs and saddlebags you can mount on a bike...one that has a proper frame to accept these accessories. And your speeds won't be anything like what you can achieve now at home. I echo the suggestions of buses and trains....they'll let you spend more time exploring, and less time dealing with the task of actually getting from point A to point B.

Posted by
8180 posts

Dear woman from Salem,
Try using names when addressing posts, especially the ones that have answers that do not suit you. You HAVE come off as rather rude in your posts and questions. Speaking in such a way to people who volunteer their time and knowledge to answer YOUR questions deserves a more respectful tone, whether you agree with the answer or not. Many of us have told you that hitch-hiking is illegal, but you choose to ignore this. Instead of asking us, why not do your own google search about the laws in each of the countries you want to visit and you can find out for yourself. People do NOT hitchhike over here.

Posted by
265 posts

In general, mopeds can not easily be taken across borders since there are no common regulations for mopeds and no general acceptance of mopeds from one country to another, as there is with cars. This means that a moped, which is legal in one country might be illegal in another. Furthermore, mopeds are not allowed on motorways.

Posted by
386 posts

Megan

just curious: you DO know what a moped/mofa is, right?
I am just making sure we are talking about the same thing, not apples and oranges.

Again, no offense intended whatsoever, but it occurred to me that I never once did see a moped, the entire time I was in the USA.

moped, or mofa - a motorbike that can be pedaled or driven by a low-powered gasoline engine
minibike, motorbike - small motorcycle with a low frame and small wheels and elevated handlebars, not to exceed 50 cc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moped

Posted by
9363 posts

I guess Megan only likes to GIVE criticism, not receive it.

Posted by
15 posts

A quick search of Google reveals that hitchhiking isn't illegal in the countries she intends to visit (w/ some exceptions, such as highways or roadways where pedestrians are prohibited). That being said, the OP may want to gravitate to those sites for the approval she seems to want.

Posted by
12040 posts

This whole exchange reminds me of a particularly poorly planned trip to Switzerland a few months ago. Anyone remember that one?

Posted by
8180 posts

Sure do and as far as I know she is still over here in Europe somewhere, trying to find a job. She made her blog private though, so if you want to know more, you will have to contact her.

Posted by
21863 posts

You mean, the Celtic Dancer? The last I read she had moved on to Spain but haven't tried in her web site in a couple of months.

Megan asked the question, "Is this practical?" Then when she got the answers, she was unhappy. One should practice the idea, "If you are not prepared to accept any answer, then don't ask the question." I have a feeling she already had been told (mostly likely by parents) that it was dumb idea and was just looking (hoping ??) for outside confirmation. Thinking outside the box is not a substitute for Not Thinking.

Posted by
70 posts

It is usually not straightforward to drive a moped across borders in Europe. There are no international regulations accepting mopeds from other countries such as there are with cars. This means that a moped which is legal in one country may be illegal in a neighboring country. E.g. some countries do not allow a passenger seat, some do. Some countries restrict the maximum possible speed of the moped to 30 km/h, some to 25 and others to 60. Also, mopeds are not allowed on motorways.

Posted by
2349 posts

Megan is the reason we get those panicked parents worrying about their daughters going to Europe. Rather chilling, the way she tossed off concerns about being taked for a prostitute. La la la, nothing can happen to me-I'm on vacation!

btw-I thought I was the only one who still checked up on Celt Dancer.

Posted by
31524 posts

I'd forgotten all about Celtic Dancer. I misplaced the link to her website, so haven't been able to check lately. It's interesting that she's in Poland now. Hopefully she knows about the Schengen Limit, as her trip seems to be continuing indefinitely.

Posted by
638 posts

This post reminds me of one a week or two ago from a young man from Oregon who planned to travel with his brother using only local transportation. I posed him the question would you travel from Oregon to Miami using only local buses? It doesn't really work well.

Positives and negatives on each Moped, hitchhiking, no positives, the negatives have already been mentioned numerous times. If you're just exploring I recommend using a intercountry bus.

Chalk me up as another person who was occasionally checking up on Celtic Dancer. I had marked her website as a favorite place. I think I was fasinated by her live in the moment lifestyle, move to Hawaii, Oregon, Europe, etc. Last time I looked there was something she wanted to head south or the Med islands for a warmer climate.

Posted by
31524 posts

Karen, I posted my reply just after seeing the movie Taken, so that was kind of on my mind at the time. While fictional, I remember a report on 60 Minutes last year about something similar, so it's definitely something that should be considered.

Posted by
2349 posts

On celtdancer.com she's posted her MRI pics for her back injury. I bet she'd take donations for her therapy. Who's in charge of taking up the collection? Should we get a cake?

Posted by
1806 posts

You'll likely see flyers posted in your hostel from other travelers who have a car and are looking for someone to share the cost of gas as they go from city to city. Positives? You could meet your driver in advance and get to know a little about them before you get in their car.

Negatives? Type "Ivan Milat" into Wikipedia if you don't know who he is. From Lonely Planet's website:

ITALY

Hitching is extremely uncommon in Italy. Public transport is surprisingly reliable (save for regular train and bus strikes) and most Italians would rather give up an arm than their car. This makes it quite easy to pick up rides once you’ve befriended a few amici, but hitchhikers could get stranded for hours and women would be extremely unwise to hitch.

FRANCE

Hitching is never entirely safe in any country in the world, and we don’t recommend it. Travellers who decide to hitch should understand that they are taking a small but potentially serious risk. Remember that it’s safer to travel in pairs and be sure to inform someone of your intended destination. Hitching is not really part of French culture, and is not recommended for women in France, even in pairs.

Hitching from city centres is pretty much hopeless: take public transport to the outskirts. It is illegal to hitch on autoroutes, but you can stand near the entrance ramps as long as you don’t block traffic. Remote rural areas are a better bet, but once you get off the routes nationales there are few vehicles. If your itinerary includes a ferry crossing, it’s worth trying to score a ride before the ferry goes, since vehicle tickets sometimes include a number of passengers free of charge. At dusk, give up and think about finding somewhere to stay.

NETHERLANDS

Many Dutch students have a government-issued pass allowing free public transport. Consequently, the number of hitchhikers has dropped dramatically and car drivers are no longer used to the phenomenon. Hitchers have reported long waits.

Posted by
1806 posts

Continued:

A much safer way to travel while still giving you flexibility to stay in one place for a longer or shorter amount of time would be a backpacker hop-on/hop-off bus like Busabout (www.busabout.com).

There are many different passes you can purchase depending on how long you intend to be in Europe and where you want to go. Many of these buses will also help you secure lodging as you move from one place to the next (hostels, budget hotels, camp sites, etc.). It's also a good way to meet people from other countries without getting locked into one particular group - you can always hop off the bus at any stop and stay an extra day or two and when you get back on you'll be traveling with a whole new group of people.

Posted by
7 posts

I really do appriciate the feedback I am getting. Ceidleh, among MANY others, have given me very good advice. I am completely at fault for probably asking the wrong question to get the "answer" I am looking for. I guess a better question to ask in addition would be..."if I were going to hitch hike (lets say) what would be some suggestions to make this safer and/ or more probable". I think I have given up on the moped idea (and yes I agree that is what a moped is- although the newer mopeds are much more advanced than that one. I rented one for a day in Sorrento, Italy and have also only seen a couple in the US)...really we just wanted to be able to go as fast as a bike or so would go but without all the pedaling! does anyone know if I did want to buy a moped that is 50cc would I need insurance? I don't think I would need a motorcycle license, would I? Thank you for all of your input!

Posted by
8293 posts

A gracious message, Megan. Nicely done.

Posted by
9363 posts

In the US, for a motorbike that small you would not need a motorcycle license (at least not in IL). You'd have to research the laws of the countries you plan to visit to find out if they would require one.

Posted by
21863 posts

We are using moped in a very broad sense. Mopeds are low power, motor assisted bicycles and will have pedals. Top speed is at best in the 20s mph and primarily used for short neighborhood trips. Not anything close to appropriate for Megan was asking.

Step through motorbikes (Vespa is the best example) are commonly called scooters. I believe it is universal in the US that a scooter with a motor size less than 50cc is treated as a bicycle -- no license, no operator's permit, etc. Have no idea if that is true for Europe. The top speed for a 49cc scooter is about 30 mph and not adequate for Megan either. But the bigger Vespa scooter (150cc) will get the job done because it can hit 60 mph or better.

Posted by
7 posts

well actually, some of the 50 cc's can hit speeds of about 40 mph- and to be completely honest- 30 or 40 mph seems perfectly fine to me! I would love to just cruise around and check out the scenery. I have heard they do break down often though- which would also be a big concern of mine. I will need to check into if I need insurance to drive a moped/ motorbike that is 50 cc. That will be my main concern (i think)

Posted by
668 posts

I am pretty sure that you need both a licence and insurance for a moped or scooter in the UK. Since most of these laws are now fairly well co-ordinated with the EU, I think you will find the same is true in most of Europe.

Posted by
59 posts

I have a 50cc 'scooter', here in WA it is street legal with a license plate, and you need a drver's license but not a motorcycle endorsement to drive it. You also need insurance as with any other vehicle. I would assume the same or even stricter laws elsewhere. I do believe in Germany where you cannot get a driver's license until 18 you can get a moped license at 16. I typically drive mine at 40-45 kmh, or about 25mph. It will go faster, but not reccommended.