Hitch-hiking in the Guinness Book of Records
Webified by Bernd Wechner - Please respect his efforts and avoid plagiarism (namely uncredited copying of this page).

The Guinness Book of Records has long been publishing records in hitch-hiking. It's something of a dubious record in my mind, and I suspect the Guinness people have come around to that same view as they have over time dropped all but one of their record categories. Still it is interesting to see how the records progressed, and what people will do to get their name in print. It's quite amazing. I extracted the records from the all Guinness Books I could lay my hands on and they're repeated here in summary. Unfortunately I couldn't find every record book, some are simply missing from all the libraries I've tried, but they are few. More importantly, Guinness publish different editions in different countries, and I've good reason to believe they publish different records. At the very least I have reference to a record in the American edition that doesn't appear in the the books I have access to, which is the ordinary, universal, international, or British edition, whatever you choose to call it, it's simply not annotated, it is simply the Guinness Book of Records. I would be more than grateful for any contributions to these data from editions to which I have no access. 

The only record Guinness still publish is the following:   

World Record for Longest Total Distance Hitched

Year of Record



When hitched

1973-85  468,300 km  Devon Smith  (1947-1971)
1986  468,308 km  Raymond L. Anderson  (1969-1984)
1987-90  492,248 km  Bill Heid  (1964-1985)
1991-92  579,510 km  Bill Heid  (1964-1990)
1993  613,578 km  Stephan Schlei  (1960-1992)
1994  673,200 km  Bill Heid  (1964-1993)
1995  695,597 km  Stephan Schlei  (1960-1994)
1996  726,117 km  Stephan Schlei  (1960-1995)
1997  776,955 km  Stephan Schlei  (1960-1996)
Stop for a moment and look at the figures. Stephan is still moving, he never stops, this man has achieved something that is very difficult to believe, but I've met the man and he's convinced me. Still, consider the following averages if you will, and ponder: 

Averages for Stephan Schlei



776 955 km in 36 years
50 838 km in one year 21 582 km per year
4236 km per month  1798 km per month
978 km per week  415 km per week
139 km per day  59 km per day
6 km/hr  2.5 km/hr
One record they published twice was the following: 

World Record for 48 Mainland States/U.S.A.

Year of Record

Time taken


Distance travelled

1973-85 33 days  Devon Smith (1957)
1986-90 26 days 6 hours Stephen Burns (1984) 18407 km
Stephen Burns averaged 29 km/hr non-stop for almost a month, or if you like 700 km per day. Hardly a relaxing trip, and quite clearly an effort to beat Devon at his game. 

The first record they published was a British one, though they have ceased publishing it now. A quick look at the trend should make it clear why. Take note that Guinness do not count the first wait in the journey time. In other words increasingly these competition hitchers have been waiting around for days on end for the one tide to take them all the way. Even so they are doing good time, I wouldn't drive those distances so fast ... Here are the records:   

Record for Britain
Cornwall to John o'Groats, Caithness, Scotland (1405 km)

Year of Record

Time taken


One Way

1959-63 39 hrs Anthony Shepherd
1965-69 29 hrs 30 min Ian Crawford
1973-74  29 hrs  Bernard Atkins (1966) and J.F. Hornsey (1971) 
1975-77  23 hrs 50 min Pam Vere and Georgina Astley (1974)
1978  23 hrs 24 min Miranda Brooks and Margaret Allinson (1977)
1980  21 hrs 55 min John Repton and Rosemary Grounds (1978)
1981-88  17 hrs 50 min Andrew Markham (1979)
1989-92  17 hrs 8 min Martin Clark and Graham Beynon (1987)


1967-68 100 hrs 30 min John Stubbs
1973-75  77 hrs 20 min Christine Elvery and Gwendolen Sherwin (1969)
1976  57 hrs 8 min Peter W. Ford (1974)
1976  56 hrs  John Frederik Hornsey (1974)
1977-78  54 hrs 40 min Peter W. Ford (1976)
1980-83  45 hrs 34 min Guy Hobbs (1978)
1984-85  42 hrs 15 min Charlotte Allard and Fay Gillanders (1982)
1986-91  41 hrs 42 min Anthony D. Sproson (1984)
1992  39 hrs 28 min Alan Carter (1991)
Take a look at the averages for the current record holders: 
    Average for Martin Clark and Graham Beynon : 82 km/hr 
    Average for Alan Carter: 71 km/hr
That's almost two solid days at a steady 80 km/hr. As I said, pretty good time by any means short of flying. More than a little trite in my mind. 

Finally there is one record the Guinness Book published only once, realising their mistake quick smart. It is the for the greatest distance covered in 24 hours. Of course the only record holder was immediately challenged by a stream of people that got a single 24 hour ride with a pair of shift-drivers, and Guinness had little choice but to acknowledge the underlying sillyness in the whole thing, and remove the record. Here is the record, for the record: 

Record for Greatest Distance Hitched in 24 hours

Year Recorded

Distance Covered



1991  2318.4 km (Southern Yugoslavia-Hamburg) Robert Prins (1989) 4 lifts
That's an average of 97 km/hr for 24 hours non-stop. Again, no mean feat by any means short of flying. It is hardly surprising that the better part of Robert's journey was along German expressways where there is no speed limit and the hitching is easy.