That’s the number of rides I hitched since last year September. One-hundred-fifty-eight vehicles. One-hundred-fifty-eight adventures. One-hundred-fifty-eight stories. And so many questions. Ever since I got addicted with this mode of transportation, people look at me skeptically, sometimes even horrified, and usually ask me one of the following questions.
1. Why don’t you just use public transportation?
First of all, as a traveller you are always looking for ways to save money. And since transportation is usually very expensive, this certainly is a brilliant way of saving money. But second of all, as a traveller you are also in constant search of adventures and want to meet interesting people.
The journey is its own reward.
Having this well-known proverb in mind, I can only highly recommend hitchhiking as it’s one of the most adventurous ways to reach your destination. You often get inspired and amazed by the friendliness of strangers you meet along the way.
2. Isn’t it dangeorous to hitchhike solo as a woman?
This is probably the most common question that I get asked. Well, of course there is always a certain risk for both parties involved. On the one hand you never know who you will be driving with and on the other hand the driver never knows who they just let into their car.
I would say you just have to trust your instincts and also be willing to say ‘no’ when the people don’t seem trustworthy to you. As for me, I usually only hitchhike during daylight hours, always let someone know before I’m going somewhere, try not to give any wrong signals to men and carry around my little pepperspray (just in case). Also, if possible, I prefer driving with women, couples or families. But all in all I haven’t made any bad experiences so far. And as we all know:
No risk, no fun!
3. Who would stop for a stranger on the side of the road?
I often get asked what kind of people would actually be crazy enough to stop for hitchhikers. The answer to this question is easy.
It can be anyone.
From old to young, from poor to wealthy, from talkative to quiet, from outgoing to introverted. In the last few months I hitched rides with people from all different kinds of professions.
So imagine you could, just as I did, get a lift by a police officer, a skyding instructor, a man who sells earth in Italy, an ingeneur, a professor, a housewife, a man who lived in the wilderness of Alaska for six months, a gas station owner, a retiree, a journalist, an urban planer, a social worker or a military man.
Given the fact that people are so diverse and unique, so are their stories. By offering you a ride, they often give you insight into their personal life and are willing to share something with you. They may tell you about their job, share a travel story, recommend a good book, show you new music, inspire you or give you a piece of advice for life.
But one thing is for sure, you can learn something from every single person you meet in life and also leave an impression behind on them – so better make sure it’s a positive one.
4. How do you actually get a lift?
When picturing a typical hitchhiking situation most of you probably have a lonesome street in mind with a person standing next to it, pointing thumbs up and waiting for one of the fast passing cars to stop. Well, that’s at least one method how to do it. But if you want to increase your chances of success, it certainly helps if you have prepared a sign showing the direction you are going to. Drivers are more likely to stop if they know your destination.
Moreover, it’s important to make sure that you are positioned at a location where cars can actually stop for you. Therefore, it’s always a good idea standing before an emergency lane, parking spot or driveway so that vehicles can pull over. Also roundabouts can be recommended since people are driving more slowly and have time to decide whether or whether not to stop for you.
However, my favourite hitchhiking method is the direct approach of potential drivers at gas stations, motorway stations or any other locations of interest. First of all, this gives you the chance to “pick” trustworthy people and second of all this gives these “trustworthy people” a chance to get a first impression of you. With this method you have the opportunity to convince drivers to give you a ride and I must say I’m usually quite good at that.
Last but not least, a smile and a positive attitude always works miracles.
Gut zu wissen! Ich hab mich ja noch nie getraut, was wohl an meinem ungesunden Misstrauen gegenueber Fremden liegt. Eigentlich schade. Weil es doch soviel besser ist mit Fremden zu reisen….
Very nice post Jacky. I totally agree with you, hitchhiking is a big adventure and the journey is its own reward.
I still remember our very first hitchhiking trip together to Amsterdam … and also the first one to Switzerland last year … and now you hitched already 89 times WOW
Enjoy your time in Switzerland 🙂
[…] if it isn’t dangerous to hitchhike solo as a woman. Therefore, I recently wrote a post about the four most common questions you get asked as a hitchhiker and explained what measures I take to stay safe during my travels. But apart from that I always try […]
Hallo Jacqueline! 😉
Oook, heeey Jacky!
Voilà, das isch mim Brüetsch sini Homepage, leider scho lang nüm nachegfüehrt, da är itz Mails schribt. Aber rächts unger het ä verschideni Kategorie, u.a. o Indie und Nepal und sogar no äxtra über Yoga. Vilech fingsch dert ä Inspiration für di säuber wenn i Oschte reisisch…!?
Ach ja; mäude mi wahrschinlech scho gli bi dir…! 🙂
Intersting article. I am still very reluctant to try it out myself but met a girl in New Zealand who had travelled across the islands just hitchiking. It was impressive and she had so many stories to tell. But do you not have to wait rather long sometimes before you get picked up? Are you schedling in a full day for this just in case and do you prebook accommodation?
Hi Annemarie, yes hitchhiking really turns you into a storyteller after a while. 🙂 I try my best to avoid time pressure as hitchhiking is unpredictable and you should take your time for it. You never know how long you will wait for, how many rides you need or what spontaneous opportunities in regard of little stopovers you might have along the way. Usually I don’t wait for long and so far I usually knew where I will spend the night. Maybe one day you also feel the urge to get out there and stick out your thumb or hold up your sign – if so I would love to hear how you liked your first hh experience. 🙂
I think hitchhiking is a great adventure. I used to hitch a lot when I was younger; experiences were ‘mixed’ but that was the point really.
When I first leaned to drive I used to often give rides to hitchhikers. Then I had a bad experience with a woman who wouldn’t get out of my car, got a knife out and said she was going to kill herself. After that I stopped picking up hitchhikers, which is a shame.
Hi Jacky, good post. 89 sounds very impressive. You are definitely an expert in this field :), so it is very interesting to read your perspective on hitchhiking. Cheers!
Thanks Elena 🙂 The number is bybnow up to about 150 – so I’ll just keep on going. 🙂
Wow! I am pretty sure if there were some statistics kept about hitchhiking you would be right at the top 🙂
Haha there’s still a lot of hitchhiking I should do in order to be at the top 🙂
Very cool post, it’s incredible how easy hitch hiking is….yet so many people are shocked when they find out that you spent the last week hitch hiking somewhere! I have meet some of the most friendly and genuine people while hitch hiking. It’s so addictive!
Thanks Conor 🙂 It really is addictive. I started with two friends and never wanted to do it all alone but now I don’t care anymore. I love this mode of travelling, either by myself or with friends, it just gives you so much back. 🙂
Wow, you’ve sure hitchhiked a lot – I hitch hiked from north of england to Paris once, but I’m too much of a wimp to do it again! I’m not very good at hanging around waiting!
That must also have been a cool adventure 🙂 How long did it take you? Sometimes the waiting can be annoying but as soon as you sit in the car you feel like it was just worth the long waiting.