The following is how you catch the flu without fail.
Wait until a flu is going around multiple countries at once. Visit at least two of them in succession. Make sure this is during cold weather and make sure you really stressed out because your flight needs to be changed at the last minute.
Fly to a country you’ve never been to before without a plan on where to stay and stay up until at least three in the morning. At eleven the next day, get in a car with two strangers going to the second country where the flu is quite common. As your clean laundry is completely used up, re-wear something that smells as little as possible until you find a laundromat.
Drink wine that night. You’ve had a hard time. You deserve it.
Stay up late watching Pacific Rim for the first time and wake up as early as is humanly possible the next day to begin hitchhiking on a journey that should only take about 6 hours including waiting time for cars.
Make sure to pick a spot that won’t work. Then walk a couple of miles to another spot that won’t work, the walk back to the first spot and resolve not to move because you have too much stuff to carry around
Get picked up by your first driver after two hours of waiting and share candy with them even though they just got over being sick. Also make sure to pet their adorable puppy.
It’s beneficial if they drop you off somewhere secluded, where cars will certainly NOT pick you up. Romanian truck drivers will explain to you that you can’t go with them YET because they’re not allowed on the German highway until 10pm.
After another hour of waiting, a car finally stops at the truck station and takes you to the next gas station where you can eat for the first time today. An enormous bratwurst with bread costs you only €3.
Your next car is driven by a middle-aged woman with more bubbly energy than you’ve seen in one person in a whole month. Her sister is similarly exciting and they take you within 2 hours of your destination.
Your next ride insists an easier place to hitchhike is 20 minutes away. He is from Afghanistan and makes an unnecessary effort to convince you he likes America, other than the fact its culture values money too much (as opposed to what other country?!). He takes you past the gas station in the city he’s headed to, away from the highway. You are barely able to get him to stop with his extremely limited English, but are thankful anyway, until…
You have to walk along the highway back to the exit (illegal in Germany). This causes you to walk through brush, leaving burrs in your sweatpants and cuts on your hands.
You pass another gas station after walking through some mud and the nice man at the counter helps you get a SIM card, except that you put in a fake address so it doesn’t activate, and won’t until after the national holiday. Hike across an entire field of burs to make it to the gas station a mile away that sits next to the highway.
There’s already a crazy person there trying to hitch a ride to Denmark, so take a less-than-ideal spot to be polite for nearly two hours before he is picked up. Wave happily at him with a thumbs up because you are genuinely happy for him and because YOU get the spot.
Since it’s dusk already and the spot was under a bridge, you can’t hitch there because no one can see you. Go back to the other spot. It’s getting quite cold but you can’t cover your face unless you want drivers to be scared of you, so just deal with the cold.
Get picked up by a nice Russian lady with an obsession for loud club music. Bang your head back and forth, laugh about your inability to speak with her and try to come up with basic conversation in between songs for the remaining 1.5 hours of the trip. After twelve hours, you have finally reached your destination at the central station of Hannover, Germany. Bid the happy Russian lady goodbye, and meet your friend who tried to pick you up at the Berlin airport three days ago.
You don’t know it yet, but you’ll be recovering from the flu for the next four days. Congratulations!