Hitchhiking 101: An Introduction

Hello there friends! Thanks again for attending yesterday´s event “Turn your Hobby into Free Travel” . For those of you who couldn´t make it, here isa ll the information regarding Hitchhiking, tips and advice:

Hitchhiking is one of the cheapest ways of traveling.

You can meet a lot of people and make lots of friends. You can also become very frustrated, or encounter danger on the way; today’s drivers are more fearful of picking up hitchhikers than in the past. But it’s also a great feeling to get a ride after you’ve been waiting for a long time. People who do pick up hitchhikers tend to be very friendly. However, hitchhikers also risk being picked up by someone who is an unsafe driver or even personally dangerous.

Hitchhiking in itself is rarely illegal, but there are often rules about where you can do it (e.g. not on highways, near intersections, at bus stops), so read up on the rules first to avoid getting booked for “trespassing” or “obstructing traffic”.

  1. Before Hitchhiking:
  • Be prepared to walk all day (not easy sometimes to get a ride)
  • Buy a map of the area, so you can determine whether a ride will actually bring you closer to your destination.
  • Try to learn a little bit of the language of the country in which you are hitchhicking.
  • Make sure to carry enough food and drink if you’re going for a long trip.
  • Arrange sleeping places or bring a tent with you
  • Remember, hitchhiking may be illegal in some areas or on certain types of roads. Enforcement of laws against hitchhiking may vary. Ask locals.
  • Dress in layers if the weather is uncertain. Be sure that your heavier layer will shield you from cold winds and random showers, but is light enough that it won’t weigh you down too much when you remove it.
  • Bring a black marker, a hat, a flashlight, a pocketknife, sunscreen, etc… it is best to be prepared and these items do not weigh much.


2.Getting a ride:


  • You need 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.
  • 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. Check your map, or ask around, to find a good spot.
  • The absolute best place to catch a good ride is on a public highway on ramp, near a truck stop, but not on the truck stop property itself, as those are good places to get thrown out of for trespassing.
  • Land borders where traffic has to stop are great. You may find better success crossing the border on foot, and hitching from the other side.
  • Gas stations where many cars stop are good. Also Laybys and roadside picnic areas are good.
  • Avoid places where traffic cannot stop legally, like no-stopping zones, taxi stands, etc.
  • Getting a ride at night is very difficult. You might have some luck at a gas station, where people can see you, but realistically you are probably better off camping out for the night and starting off again at first light.



  • Walk in the direction you want to go, especially if nobody is stopping to pick you up.
  • Make sure you know the right gestures used locally to stop a car. The thumb up sign doesn’t work in many parts of the world. An outstretched waving arm is another common gesture, but generally defer to locals.
  • Nod or wave thanks to all who at least give you eye contact and especially those who give you gestures explaining why they cannot take you. Not only does it lighten the fear of hitchers and make you feel much better along the way, some may even come back and pick you up.
  • Be aware that solitary male drivers are the most likely to pick you up. Do not completely discount female drivers as a possibility, but families are near impossible.
  • Wear bright clothing so that drivers can see you.
  • Stand in the sun so drivers can see you, unless it’s really too hot.
  • Let them see your face (avoid sunglasses, hat over eyes), make easy eye contact (but don’t glare), look happy and pleasant.
  • A big cardboard sign with an indication of where you want to go can help.
  • Some drivers will not stop based on their own racial, cultural, or gender prejudice. While this can be upsetting, consider that you may be better off not riding with such a person.
  • If you are travelling with a companion, stand together and make it obvious that you want a ride together. Drivers don’t want to be surprised by an extra person.



  • If you’re waiting for a long time and all the cars that want to take you go in the wrong direction it can be a good idea to let them take you anyway – just to drop you at a better spot.
  • Sometimes you get an offer that brings you a little way in the right direction. This can be okay, but if you’re at a place where lots of cars stop, it could be a better idea to wait for an offer that brings you a lot farther.
  • Ask if you can be dropped at a good spot for getting more rides if your ride isn’t bringing you to your final destination, e.g. a gas station or a toll place.
  • When possible, try to agree about where to be dropped off so you don’t end up in a bad place.

3.Stay safe:

  • Note the vehicle registration, and its make, model, and color before you take a ride. If you have a cellphone, text this information to a friend.
  • Better yet, take a picture of the car as it approaches and send to a friend. Ask if the driver minds if you take their picture, too (explain your safety concern – it may also reassure them that you’re safe).
  • If possible, hitchhike with a friend.
  • Choose a car with a single occupant or a couple rather than the last seat in a car full of people.
  • Sit in the front passenger seat, if you can. Rear doors often have child locks on them, meaning they cannot be opened from the inside. If you must sit in the back, check the child lock is off before you close the door.
  • Keep your bag or backpack in easy reach, so you can grab it if you need to bail out.
  • Wear at least some of your valuables (i.e. passport, wallet, money, I.D., bank and credit cards, etc.) under or in your clothes, rather than in your pack.
  • While pedestrians may have the right to walk along most roads, doing so in some places can get you arrested, cited, ticketed, or verbally warned. Find out about which roads you can and cannot walk along.
  • As a general rule, avoid walking along freeways, particularly if it looks unsafe to do so or the jurisdiction you are in prohibits it.


  1. Online hitchhiking:

– Backseatsurfing.com

– Road Sharing.com

– Hitchhikers.com

External Links

Hitchwiki – A hitchhiking encyclopedia.

Hitch-hiking Subreddit – A friendly community of hitch-hikers that enjoys answering questions

Rules of Thumb – A free guide to living on the road and hitch-hiking

HitchHikers Handbook – a useful hitchhiking resource with advice on everything from getting started to city guides

Hitching on Boats – An article on Random Road, hitching magazine.

Warm Roads – Growing collection of hitchhiking related articles and country features.


This article is part of “Cro – EU – Planet Earth” project which is funded by the European Union. Objective of our project is to inform Croatian youth and involve them in various educational, work related, volunteering and traveling opportunities. If you want to be updated on various opportunities “Cro – EU – Planet Earth”, please subscribe to our mailing list by sending us email on urbanamladez@gmail.com with title “Subscribe” and put in your name and surname and year of birth.