For all those who have yet to try hitch-hiking, the first thing to remember is not to worry! It’s fun. Sometimes after waiting for three hours at the side of the road you might be questioning the wisdom of your decision but trust me it all works our fine in the end! Keep the faith!
In order to aid your hitch-hiking adventures, here are some tips and things to keep in mind
The First Ride – Get to the edge of the city
Just like sex the first one is always the hardest to accomplish. Standing around on the street corner in the centre of the city is not going to get you anywhere. First you must get to the edge of the city preferable near the road you want to take. This might include long arduous walks or in the case of larger cities interesting suburban bus services but to the edge of the city you must go and arrive there you must.
You need to be clearly visible on a long flat stretch of road ideally. Don’t try on corners, that’s just stupid! Choose your road carefully. In many countries hitch-hiking on main roads is illegal so make sure to do some research beforehand. Put your luggage on the ground in front of you so it is clearly visible to any approaching cars.
This may sound obvious but make sure you are on the correct side of the road. Face the cars, sunglasses off and depending on the country either stick out your thumb or make a patting action towards the floor with your arm extended at your side. Smile, you want these people to do you a favour. There are much more likely to help you if you’re smiling. Try to make eye-contact with the drivers as well. A map is essential when hitch-hiking.
There are two schools of thought with what to do when you first make contact with the driver. Showing your potential driver your actual destination might put him off if he thinks that you expect him to drive the whole distance. Choosing a town on the way sometimes produces better results as it may be possible to renegotiate the dropping off point if it becomes apparent he is going further.
No lift is worth it if you do not feel comfortable about the driver. If you do not trust the driver or he is drunk, walk away. It doesn’t matter if you have been waiting for six hours and you are hungry. Walk away. Another sensible precaution is to keep all your valuables, such as electronic equipment out of sight. We usually use a money-belt to keep our money in and it’s probably a good investment.
Make sure you find a safe place from which to hitch-hike, if a car has to break from 90km an hour to 0 in 4 seconds in order to pick you up, it’s not a good place. Also try to keep your luggage with you and not in the boot, in case you need to make a quick exit.
Women, let’s admit it, hitch-hiking is always going to contain an element of risk. It is always better for women not to travel alone. In order to minimise this risk dress conservatively, cover your arms, legs and bust. Women should try, if possible, to avoid sitting next to men. Make it clear that you are in a relationship or married even if it isn’t true.Wear a ring on your wedding ring finger.
written by: Jon