A lot of people ask me about hitchhiking and want advices from me regarding this subject.
I am really happy to find out that there are still people out there whom are interested about this alternative way of traveling. Although a big chunk of the population will start saying how dangerous it is and all those kind of movie-scenarios, I can tell you that it’s not as they say it is. In fact, most of those people who are know-it-all they didn’t even traveled like this, but they act as they know it.
Anyway, before I will carry on with my article about how to behave when you’re traveling by hitchhiking I have to let you know that this is NOT something new. Actually some of the information is just common sense, but I feel the need to share this with the world because I came in contact with various people.
So, let’s start discussing the hitchhiker’s etiquette.
- Your appearance
- I am talking about what you’re showing to the drivers. Your face and attitude is what they see and what they judge. So when you’re hitchhiking don’t wear sunglasses! No matter how sunny it is and how much you have to squint to see the cars, just don’t use them. You know how they say: the eyes are the gates to the soul? Somehow it is like that and the drivers feel they connected to you by seeing your eyes.
- Another aspect regarding the appearance is your clothes. I am not telling you to have a fashion parade there, but try and look decent. Not too fancy either cos that might look suspicious. Just put on some regular clothes, and as colorful as possible. I’ve read on hitchwiki the advice regarding the colorfulness of the clothes and it makes sense: the driver can see you from distance, you look jolly and happy
- Smile! No, really, smile! That shit helps a lot!
- Try not to stink. I say try because I know how it is to be on the road for days and not having access to a shower. It happens. But try to keep some fresh clothes in your bag and use those when you travel. Some drivers even expect you to stink(!) so that would be a nice surprise for them.
- Your attitude
Attitude will determine whether you’ll have friends or not; if you’ll be seen as an arrogant prick or a helpful fella; if you will be asked to come along and hang out or you’ll be left out.
All these things refer to life situations, but attitude determines if you’ll catch a ride fast or not. And sometimes your attitude determines if you’ll go all the way to your destination or you’ll be dropped off to the first parking lot.
Again, it might sound as common sense for a lot of you, but I have heard stories and met some people and that’s why I’m writing this.
- Respect the drivers and their lanes.
I know, you might be waiting in that spot for half a day already and you might be starving. You are desperate and you want to get to your destination, but please, please don’t be too pushy and put you and others in danger. Don’t get too far out on the road. Drivers will think you’re crazy and stupid. Have patience!
- Respect the driver’s car. It doesn’t matter if it’s old or new, a cabrio or a truck. That car is the driver’s propriety and you are invited inside. Don’t start smoking without asking(or better, don’t smoke at all). Don’t start eating your old pretzels or sandwiches all over the place. If you’re really hungry, try and don’t make a mess.
- Be open and friendly. Almost no driver wants to pick up a hitchhiker who gets inside and starts listening to his music(hopefully with some headphones). Be polite and say hello, ask some questions about him, about where he’s coming and going, about his life. People love to talk about themselves. Most drivers want a companion and a chatting partner with them, so ask them about themselves. Stop talking so much about you and listen. Also, you might learn some new things from that. Like I learned how to be a PIMP(not that I wanted to know that) or some interesting and important details about finances and how to run a business from the finance department.
You will become a psychologist for a little while, get used to it
Also, you might start having contradictory debates. You will most likely start talking about politics, religion and these subjects. My advice for you would be to pay attention to how much you get into the debate. Don’t let yourself carried around too much. It’s not worth it. Some drivers might be so attached to the subject that you might get into a fight and drop you off. Even if you’re right, some drivers might not get it. Get used to it and carry on.
- Try to get the drivers attention in a nice way, but again not by putting yourself in danger.
Make your sign(if you use one – I personally recommend it) interesting if you want. Write something funny or catchy on it. Or put a smiley face. This will make the drivers look at you and your sign and you’ll have a bigger chance to get a lift.
You could also try juggling or dancing or something(but be safe!) if you’re hitchhiking as a couple. I did this once when I was hitchhiking with 3 other girls and after we started juggling and playing with our toys, we got a lift.
One important aspect is to look at the drivers. I will say this over and over again. When you are trying to get someone’s attention and when you want to engage that person, you look at him/her, right? It’s the same with hitchhiking. Just imagine yourself driving and seeing someone who’s trying to hitch a ride and that person is looking at the phone, smoking and not giving a crap about the cars. Would you give that person a lift? I think that the chances are pretty low.
When I hitchhike, I always look at the driver’s eyes or at least in that direction. This is a psychological thing. You are trying to engage with that person, it’s normal. So do it more often!
- Your behavior
Besides your attitude, your behavior will tell a lot about who you are as a person.
- Don’t feel like home. As I said before, you’re invited inside a person’s car. Sometimes that car acts as an office, living room, bedroom and kitchen. Respect it. Don’t put your stuff all over and act carelessly.
- Don’t sleep! I know how tiring it is to wait and try to get a lift sometimes, but try as much as you can and stay awake and talk to that nice person who is helping you. Even if that person is not that talkative, it won’t help that much to have a sleeping person on the other seat, especially if the driver goes for a long ride.
If it’s not about being more safe, at least don’t sleep out of respect for the driver.
- By no means start spreading your legs on the dashboard. Don’t even think of asking to do that.
Yes, there are people who do that, who think it’s not a big problem. But it is!!
Ok, if you’re in a truck and the driver tells you that you can do that if you want, do it. But take your shoes off(if your feet smell, than keep your shoes on and your feet off the dashboard – nobody wants to smell your smelly feet).
I hope that this ‘guide’ will help you getting a ride faster and also that it will make your ride more pleasant.
For sure I didn’t cover all the aspects, but I hope that most of them were covered clear enough.
Let me know what other tips you know for getting a ride faster or for making the ride more enjoyable.