Basic rules of thumb

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.

Hitch-Hiking Techniques

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.

Keep Safe

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 Travellers

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

6 Responses to Basic rules of thumb

  1. autexousious says:

    I’m sorry but I dislike the comment about women not travelling alone. Whilst it is true that we’re more likely to be propositioned, there has never been a time when I’ve really felt in danger. Telling women not to travel alone because of the attitudes of men is shitty. We need more women to travel alone and thus educate men who might act badly in these situations.

    • Thanks for your comment, Tasha! Of course, you are absolutely right that we should educate others (not only men) and encourage girls to travel.
      I’d travelled on my own a lot before I met Jon, and not just in Europe, so I encountered a multitude of different attitudes towards solo women travellers and I must say that I’ve always felt more secure travelling with a male. However, nothing serious ever happened to me, so that’s a good sign.
      Writing this post we wanted to avoid encouraging girls to travel by themselves, even if the chances of something happening are minimal.
      It’s a difficult one. I guess it’s always safer, both for men and women, to have a travel companion, but by no means do we want to scare people off :)

  2. Spacy Cake says:

    I completely understand where you’re coming from. I’m a female that’s been hitch hiking alone for over a year now. Every now and then I pick up a road partner. There have been many occasions when I wondered if I might have bitten off more than I could chew. My advice to women hitch hikers is to get a dog. Mine won’t bite anything to save her life and is more likely to lick an assailant to death, but she looks mean ;) Plus she keeps me company. And she really does cut out the rides that I wouldn’t want in the first place. If you’re willing to pick up a dirty hippie and a dog, then you’re the best your area has to offer haha

    • Thanks a lot for your comment and a great piece of advice, Spacy Cake! A dog is a good idea and you’re right that the best kind of drivers wouldn’t mind it anyway. Your dog looks lovely, though, and I’m not sure she could scare anyone off with her angel face ;)

  3. Open World says:

    So, its not the first time when I read the advice “if you do not feel comfortable about the driver, walk away”. But If you go in the car and then realise the driver is dangerous how to ask him to stop without to offend him or make him angry? Have you been in that kind of situation?

    • It’s always a difficult one and highly depends on the situation, your relationship with the driver and the language you are speaking. If you don’t share the same language, it would always be more difficult. Once in Turkey we were picked up by a guy who offered us marijuana and wanted us to have sex in front of him. It’s a long story and maybe one day we will share it here. What we did was to ask him to stop somewhere (it turned out he drove us to a park in the middle of nowhere) and talk to the guy, calmly and without panic. The funny thing was he didn’t speak English and we managed to communicate using the very limited Turkish phrasebook at the back of our Lonely Planet guidebook. In the end we refused to get in the car with him again and eventually he drove off leaving us there. We walked to the edge of the road and got another lift… I guess you can meet fucked up people anywhere and hitch-hiking is not necessary more dangerous than other forms of travelling, but you should always stay calm and use your common sense to judge the situation your in.

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