Advantages and Tips on Hitch-Hiking
So you've read about the dangers and you're unperturbed, you've decided the only way forward for you is a hitch-hiking adventure. Well you're certainly not alone. Despite it not being as common as it used to be, there is still a large number of like-minded people who have the same inherent spirit of adventure as you, and you'd be surprised at the crazy places they go. Even the most dangerous places in the world still attract hitch-hikers.
Who is the Typical Hitch-Hiker?The typical hitch hiker is a person with a sense of adventure, a reasonable amount of courage, and is ready to handle the situation when the chips are down. No particular age or sex, they are resourceful people, confident in their own abilities and, perhaps more characteristically, confident in the good nature and benevolence of the human spirit.
The more successful hitch-hikers are also comfortable with their own company yet outgoing toward strangers - a strong sense of independence is essential. Single travellers get lifts much more easily than in twos and especially threes. Females and couples are also much more likely to get a lift than all male parties. Picking up hitch-hikers is just as risky as hitch-hiking itself, so it's understandable.
Kindred SpiritThe kind of person who picks up a hitch-hiker is often someone who has hitch-hiked before themselves or at least has felt the desire to at some point. Nowadays, thanks to the blessing of the world wide web, it's very easy to get in touch with other people of a kindred spirit. You can organise your lifts online in advance as well as find other people who are going your way that you can liaison with and stay in contact with.
The internet also offers a wealth of resources for hitch-hikers and you can read about genuine experiences of travellers all over the globe. Online forums allow you to talk to other travellers too, both before you set off and while you're travelling, so you can get as much independent advice as you have time for.
CommunicationKeeping in touch is essential while hitch-hiking - you should try as much as possible to let somebody know where you are and where you're heading. If you've made friends on the road or found friends on the internet in your region of travel then they are typically the easiest and cheapest people to communicate with if you have a problem and are in more of a position to help than family or friends back home if you have a problem.
Mobile phones offer a fantastic line of communication throughout Europe and North America as well as much of the rest of the world so it's worth picking up a sim card or short term contract phone in each continent you're visiting to save on costs and above all, for safety.
Getting a LiftThere are plenty of drivers out there who would be happy to pick up hitch-hikers, but only if they feel safe - this is the number one thing to bear in mind. As mentioned above, groups of 3, particularly all male, have much less chance of being picked up. Looking for a lift in a large public place such as a service station is also advised - in fact, in some countries it's illegal to hitch-hike on the open road.
A sign clearly indicating your direction is more visible and more believable than just a thumb, as is your appearance in general. If you're too smart, people will find it hard to believe you're a genuine hitch-hiker, while being too scruffy also raises doubts as to your trustworthiness, not to mention what you might do to the upholstery of the car! Too much luggage is also a turn off for drivers.