Sub-Saharan African migration towards the European Union (EU) belongs to one of the most stigmatized forms of migration of the 21st
century. It is strongly characterized by EU’s restrictive migration policies. As a consequence, migrants who are aspiring to reach the EU often undertake fragmented and dangerous journeys to the North. This contribution attempts to gain more empirical insights into these migratory journeys. It is based on a ‘trajectory ethnography’ that combines in-depth interviews with sub-Saharan Africans, who are waiting in Morocco and Turkey to enter the EU, with a longitudinal strategy to follow some of these respondents over longer periods of time. With this longitudinal element I was in particular able to grasp expected steps and unexpected turns in individual migration trajectories. By discussing three main components (the motivation, facilitation and velocity) of journeys, this contribution puts into perspective the unidirectional and often frictionless metaphors of migration—as if migrants move like ‘flows’ and ‘waves’.