|Hitchhiking Frequently Asked Questions and TipsPage 1 of 1 |
I am putting this up as I've been asked a number of times about "hitchhiking safety". I understand that some people will still consider it dangerous and will not do it regardless. This post is for those who have decided to do it, so they can be safer and have a better trip. So please reserve any negative comments toward hitchhiking for another thread. If you have additional tips, feel free to add them.
I have personally hitchhiked 45,000+kms (28,000miles) around North America & Central America. Following these rules, I've never had a problem. A few of my female friends also hitchhike alone using the advice outlined below. Please read these before commenting.
Thanks and happy travels - by whatever means you decide to get there :)
Hitchhiking FAQ & Tips
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Isn't hitchhiking dangerous?
Try hitchhiking from rest stops, gas stations, etc. You can minimize any risk by asking people yourself in these public spots as there are also a lot of cameras at gas stations and rest areas, plus employees and other people will see you as you ask around for a ride going your way. By doing this you are choosing your driver, where as standing at the side of the road, the driver chooses you. You will be nervous at first but it's relatively safe from rest stops.
Also do not talk about things that may become a conflict once in the vehicle. Never attack someone in the car, not even with arguments.
Should a woman hitchhike?
Many people say no, but I say yes. I have met a few women hitchhiking by themselves without problems. Granted a woman should be a little more careful screening rides if standing on the road, since men may have different ideas in their heads, than if spotting a male hitchhiker. Still the best way to minimize the risk is to approach people at stops. A woman hitchhiker you could just ask other women, or couples for example. You can also hithchike in pairs or with a male travel partner.
Do many people still hitchhike?
Of course. Hitchhiking is still very easy and common in most parts of the world. As long as you are heading somewhere not totally vacant or impossible to get to, you will always find someone headed that way. There will be people that don't want to take you, but generally people are friendly. So yes, people still hitchhike and people still pick up hitchhikers.
RULES OF THE ROAD:
Rule 1: where theres a road - there is traffic.
Rule 2: where there is traffic - eventually someone will stop.
15 HITCHHIKING TIPS:
#15 Don't take walking time or hitchhiking advice from non-hitchhikers as gospel. Use caution when accepting directional advice.
#14 Don't attempt to walk from city to city unless you know how far it is and how long it will take to walk. A couple hours on the highway in a vehicle can take days on foot, without any gas stations or rest stops in between. Don't underestimate your walking times. A poor spot is worse than no spot.
#13 Feeling motion sick? Don't put your face in a bag. Get fresh air, eat something or try to find a place to rest.
#12 There is usually a cheaper alternative to almost everything. For example, don't rent lockers if you can stash items somewhere and don't overpay on basics like food just because you are in a tourist location. Check side streets or bring your own.
#11 If hitchhiking in urban areas, local buses/transit can save you hours of travel time, which may save you more than the cost of a ticket in meals/hostels/etc. It can also be used to get you out of major city centers where rides are harder to acquire. If in the Southern Ontario for example, the GO transit system goes all over the area and is fairly inexpensive.
#10 Check Hitchwiki and Google Maps/Street View for good spots to leave areas.
#9 Maps - have them, use them. It can save you from worry, time and money. Make sure you have maps that are detailed enough meet your needs.
#8 Looking clean, wearing glasses, a dress shirt or something fairly decent looking in order to look "respectable" can get you rides that you might not have gotten.
#7 If it's getting dark, start looking for a place to spend the night. Either camping, hostels, couchsurfing.org or a motel if you've got the cash. You can try airports & bus/train terminals as well, since layover passengers linger through the night catching z's too. As long as you look 1/2 presentable you should be able to snooze without too much disruption.
#6 Don't accept just any ride. Minimize risks and minimize getting off course unless it's a destination that sounds fun. Some rides will only be short and cause you to leave a good spot and put you in a less desirable one. If you have a good spot, try for a better ride if possible.
#5 Be flexible. Plans don't always work out, rides don't always come and move as quickly as possible. Consider changing spots if one does not work.
#4 Patience, remember the 2 Rules of the Road: Where theres a road - there is traffic. Where there is traffic - eventually someone will stop.
#3 Try to get dropped off at rest areas/gas stations. It will be safer, sheltered and you can ask people directly which will get you rides faster and you can be more selective.
#2 Always keep your food and water topped up at every opportunity. ALWAYS.
#1 Just Ask - you'll be surprised how easy things can be. Free rides, food, lodging, souvenirs, etc. Just Ask.