Hitchhiking Tips. 5 Most Important Things to Know Before Hitchhiking
Hitchhiking around the World
Seems crazy, right? But we did it. And we did it simply by following basic hitchhiking rules that we discovered by actually doing it.
We know that hitchhiking was quite common in “Russian times” and is still practiced in many countries. By our experience, it is quite safe and easy to hitchhike in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Southern Asia. However, in many countries locals didn’t get what do we want to achieve with our thumbs up.
1. Find out the most appropriate way for every country individually
If in the United States we had to go and speak with the drivers as hitchhiking in some states is even illegal, then in Latin America the classics of holding the thumb up worked out perfectly. In Morocco just go in the intended direction – someone will definitely pick you up in a while, but in Kyrgyzstan don’t forget to say you don’t have money and you’re not looking for a cab. In Malaysia wave the hand instead of hold the thumb, but in France just enjoy the ride – locals rarely speak other languages than French, but at least hitchhikers are widely understood. Try everything out and you’ll see, which is the best way to get forward. Ask the drivers themselves if they know what hitchhiking is – you will get the most proper answer!
2. Choose the best method
Hitchhikers, of course, are different and there are various hitchhiking methods. We usually go outside the city to start hitchhiking and do not do it in the city center at the bus stop. We always try to get on the right track in the right direction from the beginning. It’s not the best way to try to get a ride on the highway where the speed is high (although sometimes we also had no other option), but at least, try to do it on the ramp.
3. Choose the best time of the day
Avoid of hitchhiking in the late evening or night. First of all, driver will notice you only at the last moment and won’t be able to evaluate if you are safe person to giv a lift to. Also, you cannot check out the driver yourself – maybe someone is just waiting for a lonely hitchhiker in the dark.
4. Poster or not poster?
A sign or a poster is one interesting thing. Sometimes it is useful, but other times it’s better without it. In many cases driver stops just because he has read the place you want to reach and it’s luckily on his way. But there are times when driver simply decides that the place written on the poster is too far and thinks that you as a hitchhiker won’t like short rides. Decide on situation! Also, if you make a poster, do it nicely – take a good, huge cardboard and work on your handwriting!
5. Be a pleasant hitchhiker!
First of all, if you want to get a ride, start with a smile, patience and light clothes. That’s true, drivers say that light clothing creates a sense of purity. Backpack also can help – that gives the driver confidence that you are traveler and it’s good to help you.
Languages are very useful, but if the local tongue is very difficult, try to learn at least some basic phrases like “hello” and “thank you”.
And the most important – respect the driver! You are the guest in his car! Put your phone away, keep an eye contact. And in the best case – give a small “thank you” gift – it can be something from your country or home town – even a paper flag would work!
We have met many drivers all over the World and heard many opinions we can share. Mostly drivers have told us they prefer to take couples as they seem the safest – two men can be dangerous (as then the driver is in numerical inequality) and two women are too suspicious. But not only driver puts himself in potential risk – you are the one as well! But trust your guts, that inner feeling which cannot let you down!
Traveling by hitchhiking gives so much experience – something you would never gain if were traveling by public transport or your own car. This way you can get to know people you probably wouldn’t meet in any other circumstances. You can discover the World by the local people’s eyes, hear different opinions and that is the most important!
We’ve traveled with ambassadors and drug dealers. We’ve been picked up by trucks and pick-ups, and have gotten a ride even in a closed trunk. And this how we have met bright personalities with whom we still have contact, we are connected with people all over the World! And how did we manage it? By hitchhiking, of course!
Yes – this way of getting around doesn’t guarantee reaching a certain place in a certain time. And often it requires quite an effort. But if you have enough patience and time – there are so many things you can gain from this! Interesting conversations, beautiful places unknown to tourists and amazing events together with someone who definitely knows more about the place you are visiting. That’s the way to enjoy the real life of local people. Get to know the World from a different point of view – not as a tourist, but as a traveler!