Of all of the modes of transport I’ve taken in my life, my favourite by miles is hitching. Why do I like it?
It’s completely free – people pick you up because they want company, not because they want money
Anyone can do it
You meet interesting people (people who pick up hitchers tend to be more social)
You can spend lots of time enjoying the scenery while waiting for a lift
If we all believe stereotypes, we wouldn’t travel at all so I’m assuming if you’re reading this, you’re fairly adventurous and need a little push to try something new. I have been hitching for years and never had anything other than a perfectly positive experience. In the UK, I’d do it at least twice a week to get to work – a company minibus prevents me from needing my own vehicle, but I have to get to work at the start of the week and home at the end, a simple five mile journey solved with a thumb.
But how to do you it?
Follow these steps and it will increase your chances:
Make a sign – a large and clear as you can so people driving at speed can see you and in the language of the country that you’re in
Stand in a good place – make sure there’s somewhere not to far ahead where they can pull in, where people can see you clearly and where you’re safe from the traffic
Smile – People like happy people in their car more than they like grumpy people.
Know where you’re going – carry and study a map; the chances are that somebody won’t be going exactly where you are, but might be going in the same direction. You’ll always find it easier to get to your location from closer to it…sound obvious but a lot of people overlook this simple logic
Don’t get frustrated – You’re not paying for a service remember. A lot of the time you’ll get picked up in five minutes, some of the time it’ll take more than an hour. Enjoy the moment and take in beauty where you can
Pack correctly – take practical clothing incase you’re stuck outside for a long time, but not too much that you’ll have trouble carrying it if you need a few kms to finish your destination or get onto the right road
Know what you’re going to say – Normally it’s straight forward, however you may not be in a country where you speak the language. Make sure you at least a couple of phrases which are going to help you get to where you’re going
Enjoy it! – When you do get picked up, it’ll be by somebody who genuinely wants you there, somebody who wants to get to know you. So be happy, have a chat, don’t be too modest and if they offer to take you all the way, say yes!