Hitchhiking: 11 top tips to get started

The 11 Tips to Start Hitchhiking by Daniel Priestly 

This summer I spent about a month hitchhiking from Croatia to the north of Greece. This was one of the most interesting and fun experiences I have ever had – it’s not just a means of getting free transport, it’s a fun experience in itself and I would recommend anybody interested in the concept give it a go. Below are 11 tips to get you started on your hitchhiking journey!

Hitchwiki is your friend

The website hitchwiki is the ultimate guide to hitchhiking. For almost every city there is information about how to get to neighbouring cities. So once you use a map to plan your route, use hitchwiki to find out which motorways to use, where the best places to be picked up are and how to get to the outskirts of the city.

In the Daytime

If you’re going to hitchhike, do it in the daytime. First off you have the issue of visibility; at night time it’s going to be incredibly difficult to be picked up. Secondly and more importantly, most crimes or attacks related to hitchhiking (rare as they are) take place during the night so for your safety, stick to when it’s light out. 

Talk to your drivers

Driver’s are usually picking you up to make their journey more entertaining so talk to them. Better than that, ask them about where they’re from, what’s good in their country, the best places to go and stay in the city – these people are locals so are the ultimate travel guides.

Carry a sign

If drivers know where you’re going they know whether it’s worth them stopping to help you out. Write your sign in the native language, maybe write thank you as well in their native language. If the country uses multiple alphabets write the sign in both. Write it in big bold letters so it can be read by moving cars.

Have a smile on your face

Look friendly and cheerful. People don’t want to pick up someone looking miserable at the side of the road. Whilst sometimes it can take some time to get a ride, every next car could be the one that gets you where you want to go so smile at them!

Have a tent

Having a tent means you have the ultimate flexibility. One of the good things about hitchhiking is you can go stay in more rural places and enjoy smaller towns – but it is often hard to arrange accommodation in these places. Having camping supplies opens lots of opportunities for more interesting adventures.

Identify a good spot

If possible, find a spot where cars are driving slowly and have space to safely pull over. Good spots can include toll stations or petrol stations. You also need to be visible from a distance so the driver’s have a chance to consider whether they want to pick you up.

Keep Safe

Be smart, not scared. Use your common sense, if a car pulls up and you feel uncomfortable getting in then don’t feel obligated to do so. People who pick you up can be some of the loveliest people you will ever meet and often are doing it because they hitchhiked in their youth – however do keep your wits about you.

Involve a friend

Hitchhiking is both safer and more fun if you are with someone else. There are less cars you can get picked up due to number of seats, however a cheery duo can look less threatening than a solo traveller so you may get more offers. You can also take turns thumbing by the side of the road.

Never have a plan

Hitchhiking lends itself to the most flexible people. It’s good to have a general idea of the direction you want to go in but if opportunities to go somewhere else present themselves, be open to a dramatic change of plans.

Get an early start

Hitchhiking can take anything from 5 minutes to several hours. Set off early in the day – especially in summer. You don’t want to be stuck in the summer sun in the middle of the afternoon if you can avoid it.