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How to hitchhike (incl. 8 tips)

14 Sep September 14

How to Hitchhike / Hitchhiking tipsHitchhiking is a great way to meet locals and the preferred mode of transportation for budget travelers. I have hitched rides in over 50 countries and wanted to share some advice in a “How to hitchhike” article. Hopefully the following 8 hitchhiking tips in this post will be useful for you as well!

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How to Hitchhike


How to hitchhike 

Hitchhiking is great! Not only does it save you money to get around, but far more importantly is the fact that you will be in touch with the locals. For me personally, this is a crucial part of traveling as I love to hear their stories and insider tips rather than just meeting other backpackers in a hostel. Drivers that will pick you up are usually great people and I would not be too worried about running into troubles. That being said, as a female solo traveler, you should certainly be a bit more careful and just don’t get into a car if your first impression of the driver is not convincing enough.

There are different ways to hitchhike in different parts of the world. I can’t exactly recall when I started, but it has been through at least 50 countries so far. Generally, you will either have to stop a car by using your thumb (Western world such as Europe, North America Australia, New Zealand etc.) or waving down your flat hand towards the ground (Second or Third World Countries, especially in Asia). Now with the basics out of the way, let’s go straight into what you should have/do to get a ride!


Hitchhiking tips

There are several things that you definitely need to do in order to increase your chances of getting a ride. Follow as many of these and you will most likely not wait for too long! That is if you get any traffic coming through at all of course.


#1 – Look likable!

Put on your best smile while waiting for a lift. You only got a few seconds of leaving a great first impression and without looking “nice”, you will not convince the drivers to stop for you! Don’t be angry if they don’t stop and keep a positive attitude up even if you have to wait for a bit longer. Trimming that messy beard and not wearing a t shirt full of holes might help out as well 🙂

#2 – Find a good spot

It is of great importance to find a good spot that offers enough room for cars to pull over safely without harming any other people in the traffic. They should also be able to see you in advance to give them some more time to react. A speed limit will greatly increase your chances as well, so try getting a lift in towns or after roundabouts. Note that hitchhiking directly on highways is usually forbidden, for a very good reason.

#3 – Get on the road early

Don’t start your adventure too late as you will have less traffic the later you hit the road. Between 07:30 and 09:00 is perfect in most scenarios, just when people start to work. Hitchhiking in rural areas might not get a you ride at all anymore after 16:30 or even earlier, so be prepared to wake up early and calculate any time that you might need to walk out to a good spot. I often walk up to 5km to get a decent spot trying to get out of bigger cities.

#4 – Keep moving

There are two things I like about hitchhiking while walking out of town. First, people will not think that you have a dangerous buddy waiting in the bush to ambush them and second, you are able to improve your position and try your luck again if you are stuck somewhere. Personally for me, it is a mental thing of moving to another spot if I didn’t get a ride. I just like to think that if you put in some effort, you will eventually be rewarded!

#5 – Go step by step

Don’t think you will get straight to your final destination. Most of the time, you will have to move from town to town and be prepared to have multiple rides. Especially in countries that might leave you with a little bit of a communication problem due to language barriers, I would always just mention the next town to them rather then the final destination as they might otherwise decline you since they are just going to the next town. Once you are in the car, you can always talk about where you are trying to end up at the end of the day and get dropped at a good spot for the next lift.

#6 – Be prepared to strand

Sometimes you will not get a ride if you head out towards the remote corners of a country. I have just experienced it in Australia and after the traffic came to a complete stop, I had to set up my tent in the bush and try again the next morning. One car woke me up at 07:00 and then I had to wait until 11:00 for the second car to pass in the wind and cold! Don’t wander off and try to hitchhike to remote places without a tent, enough water and food!

#7 – Interact

Once you get in the car, be nice and interact to the driver. Start off by offering something that you can spare such as a snack or sweets and even if it is not much, it will show that you are a nice person. Also be curious and answer any curious questions the driver will have. You will most certainly be a very interesting person in his mind and even if you hitchhike everywhere for a long time and you get the same questions over and over again, always try to answer them in a nice and polite way. Truckers like to pick up people to kill their time as well on very long rides, so help them by talking to them!

#8 – Have a map

This one seemed to be too obvious for me but after reading some comments, I have now added the 8th tip: Have a map with you!! I always use Google maps and MAPS.ME and you just have to know everything about the possible routes to take in between towns and it is always good to see how far away you are. GPS signal usually works even without a SIM card and I will write a separate post about using Offline Maps in the future!


That’s it, thanks for sticking around! I wish you the best of luck if you give it a try yourself.

Feel free to check my How to… section for more trips about traveling on a budget!

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Posted by on 14th September 2017 in How to, Travel


15 responses to “How to hitchhike (incl. 8 tips)

  1. Chris

    14th September 2017 at 22:58

    Totally forgot to mention that I never ever used a Sign for hitchhiking! I think it is not really useful as it won’t convince the drivers to stop for you anymore than not having a sign and you can always check with them to get at least to the next town (see #5 above)

    • Adam

      18th September 2017 at 14:27

      Disagree on this one, it usually goes different with different place. In some places you get a ride just because holding a sign. It makes you yet again (even thou very unreasonably) somewhat more trustworthy.

      • Diana

        20th June 2018 at 12:05

        I agree with you Adam! Specially when you have to travel long distances, having a sign helps you sort out the cars. Going from town to town can get tiring sometimes, and you might even wanna stay a bit longer in a better spot where someone covering a longer distance can stop than risk being left in a spot where only local traffic goes by 🙂

  2. Bob

    15th September 2017 at 05:20

    Here is a tip for you that has gotten me countless rides and even some that turned around to come back and get me–have a sign saying where you are going. Many times people have told me, if they didn’t see the sign they would never have stopped.

  3. ALENA

    21st September 2017 at 11:52

    Thank you fou your nice tips!

  4. Sharee

    22nd September 2017 at 07:45

    Thank you for the tips! Will be hitch hiking today to Poland!

  5. Chris

    22nd September 2017 at 09:56

    No worries & good luck!!

  6. Anne

    23rd September 2017 at 08:54

    Thanks for this great blog contribution!

  7. Ann

    30th September 2017 at 12:45

    GREAT TIPS.. 🙂

    If you like to travel to borneo, do contact us here

  8. Max neumegen

    13th October 2017 at 21:48

    “the hitch hiker traveller is there to give you the opportunity to do your good deed for the day by sharing a ride in the same direction”. Max.

  9. Hans

    28th October 2017 at 02:56

    #9 Watch the weather report
    It was in December. 40 years ago. Clear day. In the afternoon it started snowing. We 2 waited 8! hours at a highway. It got colder and darker and more snow. After 8 hours a student in a 2CV picked us up totally frozen. That day I decided to stop hitchhiking.

  10. Dan

    3rd November 2017 at 00:49

  11. Chris

    20th January 2018 at 17:55

    Thanks for your feedback guys!

  12. Diana

    20th June 2018 at 06:07

    Hello! It is all very interesting but, as a fellow hitchhiker, I would add a bit more warning to female hitchhikers. Unfortunately I have had a couple of incidents 🙁 nothing too dangerous but I got a bit scared and I believe there is one tip that might be worth adding (And even if you’ve had no trouble, I know men who have had). Whenever you hitchike, if you ever feel like the person who stopped is dangerous, it’s totally fine to say no. That’s not gonna make you reach your destination later in most cases, and even if it did, it’s better to sleep one more night on the road than to end up worrying for the whole ride. Most of the times, nothing would have happened… But you must bear in mind that your safety and comfort come first!
    And also, have you tried hitchiking from gas stations? That’s what I do most of the times! I go to a gas station bar and ask directly to people. It might seem more aggressive at the beginning, but people actually like it more when they can ask you a few questions before the ride.

  13. Amber

    23rd June 2020 at 21:25

    Hey Diana,

    I want to try to hitchhike myself for the first time and I would like to hear a bit more about your experiences (which country, would they let you out, did you know from the beginning, etc). Also, how to deny a ride in a nice way (those people stopped for you, I would feel guilty for saying no).

    The silly thing is, when I read about hitchhiking I read “it’s relatively safe, etc, etc”, and then the articles continue about bringing along deodorant as defense spray and having a rape whistle around your neck at all times, and having your backpack always on your lap in case you need to jump out of a riding vehicle.

    Since I have never done it, I have no clue what so ever about what the frequency and severity of those encounters is. Could you tell me a bit more?


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