Thumbing a lift isn’t everyone’s best idea of travelling but by following some essential tips for hitchhikers, you can have some great (and cheap) experiences. Our image of hitchhiking has been colored by movies, which seem to tell us that 99% of drivers who give lifts to hitchhikers are crazed lunatics and serial killers. Sure, there are nutters out there, but in the main, lifts are offered by genuinely nice people without ulterior motive. Follow these essential tips for hitchhikers and you’ll meet some interesting characters and reach your destination safely.
1 Trust Your Instincts
One of the best tips for hitchhikers is to learn to trust your instincts. If a situation feels off, makes you feel nervous, or your inner anxiety meter is going through the roof then don’t get into the car or get out immediately of the ride you are travelling in. If the situation has already got to the point where you feel scared, don’t even ask to stop, just say you are going to be sick and as the door opens, get out and run as far as you can.
2 Learn the Local Lingo
One of the best pieces of advice for hitchhikers is to take the time to learn the local lingo of the country you are traveling in. Small translations like please, thank you, how much or how do I get to...? will help any hitchhiker out when it comes to a journey in a foreign country. A phrase book or a friendly tutor will be able to help you figure out the basics you will need.
3 Take a Map
It’s always a good idea to have an up to date map of the area you are traveling in, and not just to rely on technology like travel apps and cell phone GPS. Your battery could go flat or you could find yourself in a place without any signal and then you are completely stuck and won't know where you are.
4 Public Holidays
Want to get to your destination without waiting for hours on the side of the road? Then one of the best tips for hitchhikers is to get out there on the side of the road on a public holiday. The roads are very busy with people traveling to and fro and you will have a much better chance of getting multiple rides on busy days like this. Also, the beginning and the end of a long weekend are great times to hitch a ride.
5 Buddy up
So you get to the perfect spot for a lift and already there are a bunch of like-minded hitchhikers waiting to be collected. Don’t get upset and treat them as if they are competition; buddy up, make friends, get advice, swap stories and network. It will go a long way in helping you have a smooth journey; you never know when you will meet up with one of those people again or need their assistance.
6 Go with the Flow
Part of the hitch hiking experience is learning to go with the flow and not to over plan the traveling situation too much. A great bit of advice for hitchhikers is to learn how to be flexible and to make another plan when their first one doesn’t work out. You will drive yourself mad if you have made too many hard and fast arrangements; just aim on getting to your destination as a goal instead. The rest that happens in between is supposed to be part of the adventure.
7 Strike up a Conversation
Chat to your fellow driver and passengers – ask them questions about themselves, their work, their family, where they were going and the like. It will help you break the ice and you never know whom you will meet along the way. Remember, it is out of sheer kindness, well you hope so, that you have been picked up along the way. Take the time to connect with the amazing people that cross your path – it’s all part and parcel of the journey itself.
8 Use the Weather
One of the less obvious tips for hitchhikers is to use the weather to your advantage. Don’t despair because you see it bucketing down outside – get out there in the pouring rain and chances are you will be picked up quicker than you would have on a nice sunny day. People feel much more sympathetic to travelers standing in the rain getting completely soaked than they would to seeing you getting a nice tan on a sunny day.
Are you a seasoned hitchhiker? We’d love to hear your tips or maybe, you have a story to share – good or bad!
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