Hitchhiker’s Guide to Europe

There's been several editions through the years, but this is the one I had.

There’s been several editions through the years, but this is the one I had.  It is said that Douglas Adams got the idea for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy from this book.

Clearing out all my things ready to move on, and I came across this book, Ken Walsh’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to Europe, which was my bible when I first started travelling. In the days before wifi when people carried guidebooks around, this one had it all.
His advice for frugal travelling around Europe was second to none. Forget all the x on $10 a day books; Ken Walsh would have aimed to bring in an entire summer trip on that kind of money.

The book offered much advice on saving money on food, including ordering just plain rice in an Indian restaurant (good luck getting them to serve you that). Other food-spending economy advice I remember was to hang out at a family-style restaurant and wait for a family to finish eating before pouncing on their leftovers.

He also offered a lot of advice for hitchhikers (as the name suggests) including the slightly more dodgy advice for solo females concerned about the likelihood of sexual assault that we should ‘make sure you are on the pill’. What can I say? It was a book of its time.

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Venice. This is not from my early hitchhiking travels in Italy. In fact, I don't think I even took a camera with me. People often didn't. The average teenager on a night out these days takes more photos than exist of my entire teenage years.

Venice. This is not from my early hitchhiking travels in Italy. In fact, I don’t think I even took a camera with me. People often didn’t. The average teenager on a night out these days takes more photos than exist of my entire teenage years.

I sold my copy of the book on eBay for 35p and I instantly regretted it. We had some good times together, the book and I. It taught me useful phrases in all the major languages (although nobody understood me when I said them) and it taught me how to survive in Italy on £1 a day (that’s £5.13 by today’s standard according to my old pal inflation calculator).  I never did tuck into anyone’s leftovers in a restaurant though.

The book has long since gone out of print, but second-hand copies abound on Amazon.

3 replies »

  1. Awesome! So how do you survive on Italy for that amount, I am going in October and would love some money saving tips! I also love your blog, very cool!

    • Ah this was pre-euro days when Italy was one of the cheapest places to go. You wouldn’t do it now I’m afraid. Now you have to go to places like Hungary or Romania to get the cheaper prices.

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