HOW TO: Hitch-hike Safely and Successfully
Hitch-hiking has become the foundation of how we get around cheaply our travels. Its how we travel place to place, long distances and sometimes short. We've met great people, of all ages and backgrounds, exchanged travel stories, been some people's first pick-up, and generally felt inspired and comforted by the kindness of strangers.
Hitching for us started in Port Stephens, a small-town with infrequent public transport, we were able to explore the beaches with the help of strangers, get to and from the supermarket and then eventually move up the coast to our next destination.
And its how we recently travelled 4 hours from Noosa to Bundaberg, all in one afternoon.
It might not be as easy as driving yourself or as a predictable as a greyhound ticket but its definitely worth the experience, for the people you meet, the stories you hear, and of course, the major savings you make!
HERE'S HOW TO DO IT AND DO IT WELL!:
TAKE WATER AND SNACKS. You don't know how long you might be sat on the side of a road in the middle of nowhere, and somewhere like Australia, you gotta stay hydrated all the time anyway!
WEAR COMFORTABLE CLOTHING AND SHOES. You want to be practical. You need to be prepared for any weather on the road, especially if you find yourself without shelter. A hat and a waterproof are essentials.
HAVE A FULLY CHARGED PHONE. This will be a must in emergencies, and when you might want to refer to a map to see where you are.
DON'T BOTHER WITH A SIGN. We used a sign once, on the first hitch-hike we did. People are much more likely to stop and more open to taking you further then they had planned to go if you simple stand there, with your big heavy backpack on your back.
TEXT THE CAR NUMBERPLATE TO SOMEONE. We slyly text the number plate of each car we get into (unless its a car full of backpackers, in which case it seems a bit uneccesary). Text it to a friend in the same country, or if you don't have credit at least save it to your phone. This is just a precaution of course, you may feel silly being distrustful but its important you protect yourself.
LOOK FRIENDLY AND CONFIDENT. Nobody is going to pick up someone who isn't confidently looking them in the eye. Take off the sunglasses and hold out your thumb with conviction.
DON'T HAVE LOTS OF STUFF ON YOUR PERSON. Pack as much into your bags as you can, and secure them, you don't want to leave behind things accidentally, like your jacket or your bag of food! Count your bags as you get in and remember that number when unloading your stuff.
GET DROPPED AT SERVICE STATIONS. Where possible these are great places to top up on water and snacks, and increase your chances of meeting like-minded travellers or just people driving longer distances.
DON'T STAND ON THE SIDE OF MOTORWAYS. It's dangerous and not a good place for cars to stop. Make sure you pick a lay-by or pull-in on a road that allows people to safely pull up and pull away, this will be a better spot for you and will encourage drivers who will assume you are being safe and cautious, and aren't some reckless crazy person that they will avoid stopping for.
BE CHATTY AND THANKFUL. People that pick you up are likely to want the company and be interested in your story. You will likely end up repeating the same stuff to driver after driver but its just part of the exchange, and part of a being a good person to pick-up!
Hitch-hiking is initially scary. But taking the above steps should not only increase the chances of a pick-up but make you feel safe whilst you hike.
And remember, the more people who hitch-hike, and do it well, the more successful hitching will be for everyone!
A world where people happily help others out, whilst also being eco-aware (an empty car driving hundreds of miles is the enemy of reducing the carbon footprint!) is surely a much better place to be a traveller!
CHECK OUT OUR YOUTUBE TO SEE ALL THE SUPER COOL PEOPLE WE HAVE MET ON THE ROAD SO FAR!
Thanks for reading!
Hannah and Taran here. We hail from Southern England, where we met online and are now realizing our mutual passion for travel here at Nomad'erHowFar. We discuss Nomadic Living, Simplifying your Life and Long-term Travel, to empower, motivate and inspire our readers. Get to know us here!