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Hitchhiking - A Short Guide

Updated on September 19, 2012

Introduction

It happened 38 years ago that I became a hitchhiker. A friend had invited me to a hitchhiking trip, only 200 km, but it all went terribly wrong, and after hitchhiking 50 km, we had to take a train to reach our destination. But it was not the end, it was rather the beginning - and I tried it again and again. During these 38 years I hitchhiked about 67000 km in more than twenty European countries. I did not count the drivers who picked me up during my trips but I estimate that it were more than thousand. Sometimes I hitchhiked only short distances but more interesting were my longer trips, sometimes several thousand kilometers, lasting several weeks. I always had a lot of fun, it was always an adventure. I met many interesting people, and in some cases I made long lasting friendships. I never regretted to be a hitchhiker.

In this hub I would like to share some of my personal experiences as a hitchhiker with you. Other hitchhikers might have other experiences.

How to prepare for a hitchhiking trip

The most important things you need when you are planning a long-distance hitchhiking trip are a good sleeping bag, some waterproof clothes and some good area maps. It makes no sense to take some city maps with you at the beginning of the trip because in some cases you have to change your route. You can find city maps in every tourist information, at rental car agencies and in most hotels for free. Make sure to carry enough food and drink if you're going for a long trip. In some cases a big cardboard sign with an indication of where you want to go might be helpful. Choose your clothes depending on the climate. I prefer it not to take too much clothes with me, there is always a possibility to wash some clothes during your trip. Think about where you want to stay overnight. You can travel with a small tent, but that means that you have to carry additional weight. If you have enough money you can spend the nights in hostels. I prefer couchsurfing, http://www.couchsurfing.org It is free, and in most cases your hosts give you some free meals. In some cases I stayed overnight in churches, in shelters for homeless people or, depending on the weather, in the open, using only my sleeping bag. Other useful things you should put in your backpack are a pocket knife, a flashlight, some basic medicine, toilet paper and mosquito spray.

On the Road

One of the most important factors for getting a ride is to find a place where you can be seen early (to give the driver time to decide to pick you up), and where the driver can safely pull over. Ideally, there should be some traffic, but not too much either, as this makes pulling over difficult and makes drivers assume that you can always get a ride with somebody else. Good places for getting a ride are bus stops and car parks. Avoid places where traffic cannot stop legally. Don't try to catch a ride from downtown, instead catch public transport to the edge of town. City drivers are mostly traveling short distances, and it can be difficult for you to stand out or get them to stop in heavy traffic. When you are hitchhiking on motorways, good places to get a ride are gas stations where you can talk to the drivers directly, or access roads. If you can't find a good spot for hitchhiking, it is better to walk until you find a better place. Avoid to wear sunglasses because it is important to have eye-contact with the drivers what makes it easier to get a ride. Always stay happy - hitchhiking is fun -, even if you have to wait long hours or people react nastily. Wear bright clothing so that drivers can see you.

The International Hitchhikers Anthem

Slow down, turn around, pick up a hitchhiker

Slow down, turn around, take me on my way

Pick up, pick up, pick up, pick up, pick up a hitchhiker

Pick up, pick up, pick up, pick up, waited all the day

Hey driver, pick up a hitchhiker

Hey driver, take me all my way

Hitchhiking - there is no better way to travel!

Comments

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    • Sammy Proia profile image

      Sammy Proia 2 years ago from America

      Very interesting and informative!

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 5 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      Good Hub,

      Read The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, it's not about hitch hiking, but it is about going a little farther out than Jupiter, after all why limit yourself to just our solar system!

      I've done a lot of hitch hiking and once had to ask the driver to pull over and let me out, he was drunk and almost killed us a couple of times!

      Had a cop pull over and give me a ride one time in Colorado, that was cool!

    • GNelson profile image

      GNelson 6 years ago from Florida

      I hitched from San Francisco to LA back in 1966 on a four day weekend. It was an experience. Got stopped by the cops, slept in the smallest motel room I ever saw, rode scooters on sunset strip, met Tom Harman, Mark Harman's dad. Missed seeing Ricky Nelson because of a bus. Hitching was common back then. Once I got a car I returned the favor. Could have used this hub back then!

    • d.william profile image

      d.william 6 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Good article. I used to have a friend that i met many, many years ago through mutual friends, that was a hitch hiker. Every year when he would hike through New England he always stopped to visit me for a couple of weeks, and shared all his stories of the road with me. I really enjoyed those visits. I have thought about him often over the years, but when i left R.I. for Fla., there was no way to let him know of my move. I often wished i had had the gumption to to the same thing.

    • vnustham profile image

      vnustham 6 years ago from Thailand

      Very Great Hub. I like it. It always in my dream as travel like this but I can not do it by myself. I love to read all experience on web seem fill full my dream. Look forward to read more on your hub. Thanks a lot. :-)

    • profile image

      Babel 6 years ago

      there are many women who are hh too! nice article! i will try it in malaysia and australia starting in april :)

    • profile image

      kims3003 7 years ago

      Great hub - wonderful and pleasant writing style! Look forward to reading more of your writings. A++ work!!

    • nextstopjupiter profile image
      Author

      nextstopjupiter 7 years ago from here, there and everywhere

      ellinor, thank you for your comment! I hope one day you pick me up.

    • profile image

      ellinor 7 years ago

      Good hub, I use to hitchhike everywhere,especially when I was a student. These says I do not, but I always try to pick hitchers, cause people always picked me up.I try and repay the free rides ,and foods which was given to me.

    • The Old Hack profile image

      The Old Hack 7 years ago

      Nice hub, though I'm far to "long in the tooth" for such adventures.

    • princess-sisi profile image

      Hilda 7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      You keeped me reading so that was very good, and usseful info if I ever deccide to go hithhiking. Thanks!

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      The safety issue is my only problem with this mode of transportation, other than that, I imagine hitchhiking to be full of adventure!

    • profile image

      Iðunn 7 years ago

      those days have kind of passed here, or at least, I'm way past them, but I do remember a lot of hitchhiking in my youth. wonderful hub, quite nostalgic for me. :)

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Thanks for the info. I wouldn't definitely not advise this for women.

    • wolfpack5 profile image

      wolfpack5 7 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Very nice hub my friend, I always wanted to try that LOL