Tips for hitchhiking. How to hitchhike? What you should know about hitchhiking? General hitchhike tips to get anywhere around the world.

What is hitchhiking?

I suppose you know what hitchhiking is, but just to make sure:

Hitchhiking is the means of traveling as a passenger in the vehicle of someone you don’t know.

In general this would be in a car, but technically you can hitchhike any vehicle you want.

how to hitchhike
How to hitchhike? Here I am hitchhiking in Kyrgyzstan

How to hitchhike?

In most countries people have heard of hitchhiking. It may be in different ways, as a alternative to public transport for example. This is how to hitchhike in most countries of the world.

1. Make a gesture with your hand

Basically you stand along the road and make some gesture with your hand. This is generally known as hitchhiking.

In most countries sticking out a thumb works the best. But in non-Western countries this may be an offending sign. In that case you better stick out your arm and wave your hand palm up and down facing the ground.

2. Make a sign

It might be useful to make a sign which tells drivers in which direction you want to go. Be sure to make it big. As cars move quickly, they don’t have much time to read. Signs are more important in developed countries where cars drive faster.

3. Ask for a ride (at a gas station)

In some countries hitchhiking works better at gas stations along the highway. You can talk to people and ask them to take you further. This gives them more trust in you, so they tend to give you a ride easier.

This gas station tactic especially works in developed countries where cars can’t easily stop along the main roads or high way.

In Germany and France this seems to work better than holding your thumb and wait. Local citizens appreciate it if you talk to them in their language.

If for some reason you don’t want or can’t ask people at gas stations. Then just go to highway entrance at the end of the gas station and hitch there.

hitchhiking with a sign
Hitchhiking with a hitchhike sign in Ukraine.

Tips for hitchhiking

Hitchhiking can be totally different in each country. These tips for hitchhiking are general tips. They may differ from country to country.

  1. Try to look friendly. Personally I try to look as normal as possible or try to look like a tourist. If people don’t trust you at first sight, they don’t take you.
  2. Smile and be happy. You don’t have to be the most happiest person in the world, but a little smile often works better than an angry face.
  3. Find a good spot for the car. This might be the most important hitchhike tip. Search for a place where cars can stop. Preferably they don’t drive to fast.
  4. Make sure they can see you. Drivers just have a few seconds to decide whether they will stop for you or not. The earlier they can see you, the better change they stop. Some people need a few moments to decide and stop the car.
  5. If you make cardboard hitchhike sign; make it big. Write your destination very clear, with big bold letters. Is your destination far away? Or are there many cities in between? Consider writing a place on your sign which is closer. You might need a few more cars to reach your destination, but it’s often faster.

Above tips are based on my hitchhiking experience in 26+ countries in Europe, Middle-East, Asia and Latin-America. As said, the hitchhiking can be totally different in each country. Make sure to prepare a little bit before you enter a country, by reading about it.

hitchhiking tips
Hitchhiking tips: in Iran using your thumb might be considered as disrespectful. Waving your hand down might be better.

Is hitchhiking for free?

In general hitchhiking should be for free. But in many countries it is very common to pay for the ride.

For example in Romania, Iran and all the Stan countries (Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazachstan, Kyrgyzstan etc.) the driver may expect you to contribute for the fuel.

To avoid this, you might want to make sure if the ride is for free when you get in the car. Therefore it can be useful to learn the words “is this for free?” in the concerning language.

You may also consider to just pay for the ride. As these people often could use a bit of extra money. Otherwise they would have earned it from another local. But that’s up to you.

More about hitchhiking

Want to know more about hitchhiking? Read about cool stuff I experienced in my hitchhike blog.

Hitchhike tips and experiences in:

Categories: Blog

World Hitchhiker

Hi there! I am the guy behind In 2019/2020 I hitchhiked from Holland through 26 countries to Malaysia. In total I've hitchhiked more than 40.000 km in 36 countries.


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