Dear rookie hitchhikers,
I present you with the hitchhikers guide to the world! What to do and what not to do in order to find a good ride and create positive experiences? Read on to find out!
Few means of transport are as rewarding and cost-effective as sharing a car with a helpful and kind driver. Hitchhiking may be popular in some countries and not so common in others, but it does make a possible and fulfilling way of travelling around the whole world.
It may so happen that you get stuck in one place and in five hours only four cars drive past. You’re gonna want these vehicles to stop and help you out and this is why I constructed this set of guidelines and directions on how to and how not to hitchhike. They may come in helpful and improve the effectiveness of your travels, both when you’re alone and when in a larger group. Before I begin to ramble on and glorify hitchhiking, it has to be emphasized that this way of travelling is not for anyone and it arouses all kinds of different emotions. People will tap their foreheads, ask if I hadn’t watched any news lately and assure me “Dear, nobody will stop for you here!”. Well, up until now someone always has.
First rule – have a map and know how to use it. Be able to recognize your current position as well as your destination on the map.
Second rule – flexibility. If you have a certain route in mind and the driver tells you they’d rather take a different road, because it’s faster/ nicer/ more convenient – go with it. All in all, usually they are the ones who know the road traffic reality in their country, not you.
Third rule – positive thinking.
And all the rest will follow in such order:
- choosing a good spot
- behaviour while travelling
- communication – language, illustrative questions
Starting with how not to scare the drivers away purely by your looks:
First and foremost, put yourself in the driver’s shoes. You need to look in a way that says – I’m a trustworthy person. People who give rides to hitchhikers generally know well enough that while on the road it is impossible to shave every day, but there are still some guidelines it’s better to follow:
– Smile and make eye contact with the drivers.
– Look neat. Whenever possible, have clean and fresh clothing; what more can I say – don’t stink. This should be feasible in most places around the world.
– Wear vivid colours. This makes you more visible on the road, especially in bad weather, bright sun or when it’s getting dark.
– Avoid dark and military clothing, firstly, they make you less noticeable and secondly, they don’t inspire trust.
– Don’t wear sunglasses – covering up half of your face doesn’t really shout “you can trust me, I’m a great person”.
– If you decide to wear headgear, choose such that leaves your face visible.
– Don’t stand in a group bigger than two or three people. It’s better to separate and stand at least 15m from each other or else the driver will just think that you’re waiting for a bus.
– Clean the mud off your shoes, so that you don’t carry it into someone’s vehicle. Do this before starting to hitchhike, not in front of the driver.
– Leave your backpack visible, so that it is immediately noticeable that you’re a traveller.
– Sometimes it’s a good idea to have your country’s flag pinned to your backpack.
So much for lesson no. 1!
Make sure to tell me about your best and worst hitchhiking experiences in the comments and come back for more tips!