This is an introduction for hitchhiking, please consider reading more stuff in different sources (links given at the bottom)

Start

For inexperienced hitchhikers, it’s a huge adventure. The inhibitions within and new situation which makes you to have an uneasy feeling at first, mixed with the excitement to have adventures and to meet the unknown. Apart from saving money, this is one of the main points that makes us not to take the train and plane. And that’s what we basically want for the Travel Makers Project and you will get used to it very soon.

Luggage

The amount of luggage should be kept at a minimum. You won’t always get the biggest vehicle. Every now and then, you need to squeeze yourself into cars which offer only little space. So think twice about what you really need and in what quantity!!
Other than that, what items should be definitely taken?
We established a quick list:

  • Sufficient water: Not eating for half a day is maybe a bit hard, but having nothing to drink can be more serious.
  • Paperboard/Pen: Not every spot is good to talk to people directly, you should always have it on you.
  • Rain and sun: You don’t know when you will catch your next ride. Also, the weather is unpredictable. No need to have full diving equipment with you but something to protect yourself against a rainfall. There isn’t always an occasion to take shelter. The same applies to the appropriate sun protection!
  • Maps: Where does it go to? This is what you know best and nobody else. Especially when there are linguistical barriers and additionally characters which don’t correspond to the Latin alphabet that makes the whole situation even more exciting. You should be able to make clear what you want in some way.
  • Useful things:…just like a pocket knife, a compass or a tent+sleeping bag (in a handy format!) can be very useful during the trip.
  • Endurance: Last but not least, you will need a lot of patience and endurance. In case things don’t happen the way you want them to or you come across something unexpected, you should keep an open heart. That’s life, that’s how the trip is going to be.

Right spot

To many of you, this seems to be quite obvious and logical. Yet, we say it again! The choice of appropriate spot from which you want to be picked up tremendously increases your chances of how fast you get somewhere. People with little or no own driving experience sometimes don’t fully understand how this works.
Places where traffic is slow and cars have a good opportunity to stop without interfering with the following traffic (this varies a little bit from country to country) are generally good spots to be picked up.

In the vehicle

Often you don’t have to wait too long and the next friendly face stops for you. Well, maybe not always friendly. There are a few security precautions to consider.

If for any reason, you feel like you don’t want to enter the vehicle, maybe because the driver still needs to clear the whiskey bottles from the floor or something else that makes your inner alarm bells ring, DON’T GET IN!

It is okay to refuse an offer and to say “No”. This applies especially to single female travellers (which will not happen within the framework of the Travel Makers Project since we will only go hitchhiking in couples, to learn more about this please have a look for our Agreements )

  • Once in the vehicle, if the driver’s capacities are not up to scratch and you get an awkward feeling, you should try to get out as quick as possible. Your route has change instantaneously, a sudden sickness or maybe the blunt truth, whatever works out, just do it. Don’t stick with it if you see yourself in real danger!
  • You can memorize the number plate before entering the vehicle and send it to someone. Also in high emergency cases pepper spray can be used. However, these are just guidelines.
  • Valuables and documents should be worn tight to the body and not too easily accessible. Especially in foreign countries your passport is extremely important
  • Many drivers may not be or only be slightly familiar with the principles of hitchhiking. Friendly as they are, they want to take you to the next town which is not even on your way. Keep insisting on getting off at a motorway parking area (if located next to the highway), a parking lot or any other opportunity which allows you to continue smoothly.
  • Never ever let someone drop you in a city, absolutely no-go!!! To get away from there, it is nearly impossible and it can take hours before you get back again. Precious time that you need to get where you want is wasted!
  • Avoid sleeping in the car or make sure that one person stays awake. This is firstly for your security and secondly to not lose track of where you are.
  • Keep your destination in mind: You will have good conversations, meet new friends and experience intercultural experiences. Yet, keep an open eye to the road and try to keep track where you are. It is better to get dropped in a spot where you know for sure how to go on rather than to stay in the car. Some driver might know where to drop you, though many don’t know.

Please take these advice serious, think about it by yourself and if necessary get informed through people who are more experienced than you. Also browse the internet to find more about it. For example check out Hitchwiki for further information about hitchhiking.

If you have further questions please have a look at the FAQ’s or just send us a mail.