Although it’s a big risk swell as being illegal, Belgian YouTuber GifGas claims that the best way to travel around Europe for free is by train-hopping!
Who is GifGas?
GifGas is a Belgian YouTuber and photographer in his early 20s. He is known for documenting his travels around Europe on YouTube and Instagram. He has been a lifelong train lover and this has led to some of his unusual journeys.
His mode of transport relies on train-hopping. For those of you who are unsure about this term, it means that he catches unauthorised rides on trains that transport commodities. Similarly, he also relies on train-surfing which involves using the standard trains that we purchase tickets for.
How did he start this lifestyle?
As GifGas lived close to a freight depot, he was able to observe in great detail when trains arrived and departed. With this knowledge, he was able to study the train timetables so he could plan his first trip using the freight train as his alternative to a car.
His first journey was on a train going from Zeebrugge to Milan. He met up with his friend Rico and persuaded him to join in with the fun and come travelling for free with him.
The train went through Switzerland, Germany, and arrived in Italy 13 hours later. I haven’t stopped since that first trip. It’s like a drug.
GifGas has made around 40 different trips using this method, sometimes by himself and sometimes with a group of adventurous friends.
Some of his adventures…
When GifGas plans his adventures, he makes sure that he gets to see as much of a country as possible. He likes to find the hidden gems that aren’t crowded by tourists so he can really take in the culture and see how it’s different from his own.
During one of his travels, GifGas and a couple of his companions ended up spending the night in a stranger’s garden in Romania. Instead of chasing them away, the owner of the house brought them coffee!
One of GifGas’ first ever train surfing experience made its way on to Belgian national news and this reminded him that what he was doing carried a potential two year prison sentence if he was caught. As a result of this, he has chosen to protect his identity so it can’t be traced back to him.
His scariest experience
GifGas had underestimated the increased security presence at a European border when he was travelling to Italy. Security guards had spotted him and his friends. When the train pulled into the depot, a large group of guards were waiting for them. However, GifGas and his friends fled into the mountains for a lucky escape.
We crossed the mountains to get to Austria and there was nothing left for them to do there. We hadn’t eaten anything, we were exhausted, but it was one of the best times of my life.
Although GifGas’ trips have many risks and the potential for danger, he’s very happy with the lifestyle he has and he believes that it’s all worth it for the travelling experience!