How to Hitchhike? My Hitchhiking Experience

From the beginning, I just want to stress that I am completely not a pro at hitchhiking and I do not have a lot of experience with it although I tried to hitchhike solo and I totally love it so I decided to share my experience.

My Hitchhiking Experience

For my first time, I tried super “safe” countries – Germany and France, I had a great time hitchhiking even though those experiences are completely different.

In Germany, Stuttgart I was staying with a local guy via Couchsurfing program, I told him that I want to hitchhike from Stuttgart to Karlsruhe and he was so helpful and gave me an old pizza box on which I wrote my destination. He even brought me with his motorbike to a road where I could catch a car faster in his opinion. It took me around 15min to stop the first car and I was lucky because a driver had to go directly to Karlsruhe to take his climbing equipment. It was a nice ride, we shared an interesting conversation and I reached my destination quickly.

Hitchiking

My second hitchhike was in France (Cavagnion – Marseille) again I was lucky because I was staying with a Wooff program in France and my host took me to a highway to Marseille. I prepared a sign with my destination, but I manage to leave it at home. This time more cars were stopping, but they didn’t go to the same direction, they stopped just to ask me where I need to go. Until one lady stopped and in French explained me that she is going near Marseille in a small city around 30 km far from Marseille, I decided to risk it and just to take a bus from this small city to Marseille. This woman wasn’t speaking English at all and I was terrible in French, so most of the time we were just listening to music or even a little bit singing. After a while, she started explaining and showing with hands that she needs to sign some document and was repeating the word “cafe” and “Marseille”, at first I understood that she will sign a document and during that time I should drink coffee and then she will go later to Marseille. However, it was better she stopped at the post office to sign a document, left me in a car for 15 min and then we went together to drink coffee with her friends! They were talking English so it was quite nice, they bought me coffee, shared a sandwich and a cigarette and after an hour she brought me to the main train station in Marseille. If I had a sign she would never stop to take me because her main destination was not Marseille, but all the experience were more special this way.

Hitchhiking tips

I met so many people who are against hitchhiking and I completely understand it, sometimes you can put yourself in a very dangerous situation I am quite aware of it, but when you hitchhike and have this great memory then you do not want to sit in a boring train or bus anymore. These are my safety tips and tips for more effective hitchhike.

1. Tell somebody where you are

If you travel solo don’t make this mistake of disappearing from your friends or family lives, they have to know where you are and with whom. Agree with one person that before entering the car or when you go somewhere you have to write your place and is everything fine, you can even take a picture of a license plate and send it to a friend.

2. Study the map

Make sure that you know where the car should go and notice soon if you are going in the wrong direction. Don’t be immediately scared if the car made a wrong turn, you can ask a driver about it and if he is being weird just tell him that your friend has the exact location of where you are.

Hitchhike

3. Trust your instincts

If a car stops and you don’t feel fully confident about the driver then say “no” and wait for another car, if something feels not right then trust yourself and remember that it is not worth taking a risk. Maybe sometimes you will not catch a car and have to travel by bus but safety always must be first.

4. Avoid hitchhiking at night

Try to avoid hitchhiking when it’s getting dark, consider taking a sleeping bag and a tent with you and just stay for a night at a safe place and in the morning continue hitchhiking. If you need to walk near the road in the evening then always have a reflector or LED lamp.

5. No alcohol smell

For God’s sake if you smell alcohol from a car then don’t even consider entering a car

6. Ask people at gas stations

You can look for drivers who look trustworthy for a ride at the gas station. Talk to them, but don’t be annoying because they don’t have to take you, it’s their decision if they want the stranger in their car or not. Offer to divide expenses for gas if you can. Once you make a connection, it is more likely that you will get a safer lift.

7. Ask local

Ask local people if they have any recommendations on where to start your hitchhiking. Once I tried hitchhiking in Germany and most of the cars who stopped said that I will not be able to hitchhike here because most of the people who go to this directions are not going to my destination.

Hitchhiking

8. Spot where cars are going slower

The slower cars are going, the better. Give drivers some time to check you out, to discuss taking you with other people in the car, and finally, decide to pick you up or not. An additional tip, choose a place near the top of a hill. The cars go slower and are easier for a car to stop when it is going uphill. 

9. Easy to pull aside

Pick a spot where cars can easily pull aside without creating a traffic jam. Nobody wants to stop other cars to pick you up. Make sure there is enough space for the car to pull aside.

10. Outside of a city.

Avoid to hitchhike in the city because people aren’t going far. IChoose the edge of the city, before the cars start to accelerate. The hitchhiking best spot is where the city small streets become a highway.

11. A sign

The benefit of the sign is obvious you are communicating with the drivers where you want to go. The downside of signs is that drivers who don’t go to your destination don’t stop even though they can drive you somewhere else where you can catch another car.

solo hitchhiking

12. Smile

One of the main reason why people pick up hitchhikers is that they want to have a nice conversation.  But nobody wants to chat with a grumpy person, so smile and look nice.

13. Think about how you look

If you are a woman then don’t dress top provocatively and even too feminine. If you are a man don’t look dangerous, dress as you a cheerful person. Shower and always look clean.

14. Offer to pay for gas

Offer drivers to pay for gas or to split expenses, most of the people turn off this offer, but it is a polite way to say “Thank you”. You can also offer something else like paying for a meal, a drink, buying a souvenir or giving a gift.

Is Hitchhiking Illegal?

Yes and no. In some countries hitchhiking is illegal, although hitchhikers are rarely ticketed, usually just warned. You just need to follow some basic rules like don’t stand on the side of a major highway and solicit rides and don’t do things which makes danger to the drivers.

Have a nice trip!

 

 

19 Comments Add yours

  1. gotheglobe says:

    Some helpful tips and advice here!

  2. Amber says:

    Wow, what an adventure. I personally would never do it since people are nuts these days. They can act all normal at first and then bam, gun out. So I’ll pass, and I’d never pick one up for the same reason. But if I didn’t have kids, I’d probably be more open.

    1. Yes, there is always a risk, but I was so happy that I did it 🙂 not sure if I would do this alone anymore

  3. Krista says:

    I remember my Dad picking up a hitchhiker when I was a child. I was terrified but he turned out to be a super nice man. His truck broke down and he just needed a lift into town. I was very glad that we were there to help him.

  4. Hannah Marie says:

    This is some interesting post that’s full of helpful information. The tips you got here are great. Hitchhiking is not a joke but you seem to know a lot about it.

  5. I’m not sure I would ever feel comfortable picking up a hitchhiker. Then again, it may be because I watch too many Dateline episodes.

  6. Myrah Duque says:

    NOT! I would never do this. Heard so many crazy stories.

  7. Alexandra Cook says:

    I have always thought it would be a cool adventure to hitch hike. It is kinda of scary though!

  8. Although I hitchhiked as a teen there is no way that I would do today. It was dangerous then and with the way things have changed it is even more dangerous today here. That being said, I have and still do occasionally pick up hitchhikers.

  9. it’s reassuring to know that there are people that will help you reach your destination on the road

  10. Tadpoles And Mud Puddles says:

    I’ve never hitchhiked. To be honest it scares me. I’d rather not get in the car with someone I don’t know and now that I have a child I drive almost everywhere we go. I think you have a lot of good tips. Common sense is the key clearly.

  11. Enriqueta Lemoine says:

    I cant imagine hitchhiking. Theres a lot of bad people everywhere, and Id rather not be in a car with one of them.

  12. Deola says:

    This takes some level of boldness I don’t think I have. But if you are going to hitchhike better to learn how to stay safe. Your posts has great tips to use.

  13. Brittany says:

    OMG, I would be so scared to hitchhike! I watch too many shows that would not advise me to do it. ahah Thanks for sharing your experience

  14. adi says:

    That’s cool that you decided to hitchhike. It is definitely risky but glad you had a precautionary checklist!

  15. I haven’t tried hitchhiking but I am interested to. Planning to try it within this month. 🙂

  16. Casey says:

    I love hiking and I always go on the weekend with my firends. I just love the feeling to be in the wild. I highly recommend it to anyone.

  17. Jen Trevino says:

    I don’t ever think I could hitchhike, but to those who’ve done it, more power to them.

  18. Hitch hiking is cool is fun if you trust yourself so much not to get lost but as for me I could try that Sometime thanks for the tip would be useful.

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