Hitchhikers

Farhad Karimli 18 February 2020 1443 views 11 min. read

What is hitchhiking? Hitchhiking is a cultural way to travel for free just by raising your thumb to stop the car on your way. By travelling on the vehicle going in the same direction as you, both sides are the winners: you are travelling for free, and the driver is doing something right. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people travel by hitchhiking.

How dangerous is hitchhiking?

backpacker hitchhiking

Although hitchhiking is a cultural means spread all over the world, people still have questions regarding its safety. Is hitchhiking dangerous? Why is it dangerous? How dangerous is hitchhiking? If you consider and do it properly, then hitchhiking can be a very safe type of trip.

How to travel by hitchhiking?

young traveler

What to pay attention to when hitchhiking? If you want to stop the car to drive you to your destination for free and not for other purposes, you should raise your thumb. Raising your thumb is a famous cultural gesture around the world.

Hitchhiking travel guide

two young tourist girl

1. It is advisable to stay at the places where the speed of the upcoming cars is slowing down. It will be easier for them to see you and they can stop quickly. It will help you get to the destination faster.

2. Your appearance is significant to the driver. He decides on whether to take you to his/her car or not. Clean clothing, backpack, cameras, and other equipment will give confidence to the driver.

3. You may not know the language of the country you are travelling to. So, you can explain the name of the place to the driver by writing it on your note application on your phone or paper.

4. You should start the hitchhiking in the morning, as you can wait 10 minutes, 1 hour and 5 hours. Therefore, you have to leave earlier, to arrive at the destination as soon as possible. You can also accompany more confident drivers at this time of day. 

hitchhiking

5. Sometimes, the driver of a car you stopped can be drunk, tired, or unpractised (driving very rough). In this case, tell the driver in a proper way that you want to leave. If required, you can even lie. 

6. If you are travelling alone, take care of who is in the car. Try to stop family cars. If not, try to stop vehicles with both sexes in the vehicle. Last, you can stop the car with the driver only.

7. You can meet all sorts of people during hitchhiking: mafia man, religious fan, politician, or historian. Be prepared for this and avoid engaging in religious, political, or ethnic conversations.

8. Hitchhiking culture is to help travellers. Some drivers may ask you to order food or buy something in the market for free driving. If your budget allows it, it is advisable to do it. However, do not give money if they ask you. You have the right not to give money, as you have already told the driver you want free pick up by raising your thumb. The driver agreed with this and took you to his/her car.

happy woman

9. If you think that the driver is not a safe person, you have the right not to get in the car. Do not hesitate to tell a lie to the driver and let him go.

10. Waiting in one location during the hitchhiking may delay you. You have to walk in the direction you want to go and do the hitchhiking on walking.

11. If you prefer hitchhiking, then you have to be patient, as you can not wait for someone to invite you for a ride just by standing on the road. In this regard, you must try hard and with great enthusiasm.

Why do people choose to travel by hitchhiking?

hitchhiker

The main reason why people choose hitchhiking is being free. It is the ideal type of travel means for every traveller. On the other hand, hitchhiking travel is more interesting. You meet new people.

Worst and best places to stand for hitchhiking

young woman hitchhiking

Travel as much as possible and start hitchhiking on the outskirts. You can use the bus to get to the suburbs, as it is hard to determine where the cars go within the city. Moreover, the vehicles going to the other town are already passing through the outskirts. If you want to stop the coming car, raise your hand in the direction you want to go and try to have eye contact with the driver and smile. If the driver stops the car, you should explain that you are travel and you do hitchhike to save money. There is nothing to be shy or ashamed of. Relax. As the outskirts are very busy, it is better to stop at the parking lots, gas stations, etc., as the chance that the car will stop here is higher. Besides, those locations are safer. However, if there is no parking or petrol station near you, then stop at the intersections or near the traffic lights. It is easier to stop the cars on the crossings as they slow down the speed and stop at the traffic lights. If you are inexperienced or embarrassed concerning hitchhiking, you can also ask the traffic police for help. You need to approach them and explain your situation. The police will help you to stop the car.

young tourist

Side streets are not recommended for hitchhiking, as they are one of the places where accidents are most common. If the car you wanted to stop does not stop, do not lose your hope. Sometimes, the driver decides to pick you up after passing you, and as s/he cannot stop the car immediately, s/he slacken the speed and stops. In this case, the vehicle will stop far away from you, and if you do not see this, the driver might continue his/her way. Therefore, you should look behind the car even if you could not stop it. And if s/he stops in front, then you have to run to the car. However, looking behind a car for a long time is also useless, as you can miss the vehicles that might stop for a pick-up. 

If you want to get to where you want to go at night, you have little chance in this regard. In general, it is not advisable to hitchhike at nights, as the morning drivers are safer than drivers at night. Besides, there are many trucks on the road at night, because of the ban in the mornings. Travelling with them can be both late and very dull. When you get to another city at night, it will also be challenging to find a place to stay and eat. So the best is to travel in the morning. There is a proverb: “An hour in the morning is worth two in the evening.”  

The pros and cons of hitchhiking

hitchhiker on road

As there are pros of hitchhiking, there are also its cons. Hitchhiking is dangerous. Generally, hitchhiking is not safe for everyone, as you do not know the driver, his destination, and psychology. So you have to be ready for any circumstances. You can even have self-protection tools in your bag. For security reasons, we should note that travelling with at least two people is safer. If a hitchhiker is a woman, this method of travelling is more dangerous for her than for men.

We have provided you with almost everything you need to know about hitchhiking and the pros and cons of hitchhiking. Now let’s talk about people travelling by hitchhiking. 

The hitchhikers

backpacker

Some people think of hitchhiking as an unbearable and challenging way of travelling. However, there are tens of travellers travelling the world by hitchhiking and overcoming the difficulties: 

1. Furkan Erdem

hitchhiking

Twenty-seven countries for 2000 USD...    

23-year-old Furkan Erdem travelled 27 countries by hitchhiking. The traveller has completed his journey for nine months. Erdem, who spent just $ 2,000 during travelling 27 countries, now plans to travel to South America. Erdem began to save money while going to university and coming home by hitchhiking. Thus, he has gained experience in this area, and one day he aims to make trips around the world. However, he could realise this dream only after graduation from university. He has started his journey from Manisa and travelled to Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, Czech Republic, Poland, Croatia, Macedonia, Hungary, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Montenegro and finally to the Netherlands. After returning to Izmir, Furkan Erdem, who has become famous in the country, has talked about his journey: “The main thing that draws my attention when travelling is not the low-cost travelling, but the cultures I have encountered in the countries where I travel. It is a great feeling to get to know different cultures. When travelling from country to country, I stay in the cheapest places, eat at the cheapest places, and use the cheapest vehicles when needed. While travelling by hitchhiking, I could not understand people who wanted to help me, as their English level was shallow. However, we were trying to understand each other by gestures. It also makes travel more fun. I am currently preparing for a trip to South America. After saving some money, I will go there and travel all over the country by hitchhiking.”

2. Jorge Sanchez

hitchhiking on road

Spent 30 years of his life on the roads.

62-year-old Jorge Sanchez from Barcelona has travelled to 193 countries and has been able to write his immense travel history in the memories. Sanchez ranks second in the list of most travellers. He was a member of a low-income family. He stopped going to school when he was 13 and got on the road. He worked in low-paid jobs in the countries he travelled to. Farming in Australia, working in a restaurant in New York, gold mining in Peru, etc., helped him to meet his travel expenses. He didn’t need a hotel to spend the night. He spent the night under a bridge in India, a telephone booth in China, on a tree in Brazil, in a morgue in Liechtenstein, in prison in Colombia, Paraguay, Georgia and Afghanistan, and in temples and shrines in many countries. Sanchez has a simple philosophy: “To travel the world, to go on a world tour is a sacred journey and a search for knowledge. I believe that we need to see the world to understand it, but at the same time, every traveller needs to know when to return.” When Sanchez was 13, he wanted to go to the island of Mallorca without telling his family. He travelled by boat from Barcelona to achieve his goal. But he could not travel because he did not have a passport. Therefore, he was enrolled in military ranks in Western Sahara as a volunteer. At that time - in 1968, the Sahara was captured by Spain. After two days of military service, Sanchez was frustrated and left the service. Finally, at the age of 18, Sanchez, who obtained his passport, was able to travel to 11 European countries by hitchhiking. For two years, he began to study language along with touring the European countries for two years. He realized that he needed to learn a foreign language to be a good traveller and to travel around the world. Two years later, Sanchez returned to Spain to serve in the army. Military service was obligatory at that time. After successful military service, Sanchez started his journey again. A young traveller, who began travelling Europe by hitchhiking visited and earned money by working in the dental laboratory in Paris, selling cheese in Italy, playing chess in the Philippines, and Indonesia, working in gold mines in the Peruvian forests, and washing dishes in New York.

hitchhiker hand

Sanchez, staying at least a night in every country while being in Liechtenstein, sought shelter at night as the hotels were too expensive. He woke up at 5 am by the sound of the funeral machine. When he looked around, he saw that he was in a morgue. In Brazil, he had to spend the night outside because he did not have enough money to stay at the hotel. However, he was also afraid to sleep on the ground to avoid the threat of robbery. Therefore, he slept on the tree. In 1986, he saw several people on the border with Ecuador and Colombia following him. He thought that it would be dangerous to continue travelling at night and started looking for a solution. Finally, he appealed to the border prison and asked for help from a security guard. The security guards allowed Sanchez to spend the night with the prisoners.

However, Sanchez’s adventures did not end there. He spent the night in the Hindu temples in India, the Sikh temples in Uganda and Tanzania, the mosques in Uzbekistan, the Catholic Church in Congo, Buddhist temples in Japan and Bangladesh, Jewish synagogues in Israel and Brazil. Sanchez says every traveller should spend at least 24 hours in each of the 193 countries known by the United Nations. For this reason, there is no need for much money, as many people think. He proved this by his travels. Sanchez spent at least 24 hours in all countries except Tajikistan. He also plans to visit Tajikistan for this purpose.

hitchhiker catches car

Sanchez says: “Some people refuse travelling with the excuse that they do not have money. However, they do not think that they spend money on eating, clothes, etc., in their home country. Living and spending money in countries such as India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Bolivia, Peru, Morocco, Mozambique are cheaper than staying at home. You can make a budget travelling by staying in the hostels or guesthouses rather than expensive hotels to travel at night to avoid hotel expenses or travel by bus or train.” Some people are not happy about travelling, and say that they do not gain anything by travelling. According to Sanchez, there is a reason: “Some people work and earn money for a lifetime.” After the age of 60, they begin their journey to return the lost time. At that age, travel seems ordinary for them, as these people do not have energy. I have spent 30 years on the roads, and now I am 62 years old. I have no money, and I can’t earn it anymore. However, I gained more valuable wealth than the money I earned by working during travel. I have spent my time travelling, I don’t regret it, and I am fully satisfied with my life. Travelling is a university, and I’m still a student who doesn’t graduate from that university and study every day. My wife was the reason why I had to return from my journey years ago. When I started my journey, I was young, I needed to learn more, to know, to develop myself, to have a better understanding of life, and I thought that I would gain all these by travelling the world. My thoughts did not remain as a thought; I implemented them and began my world journey."

3. Ali Boluk

man hitchhiking

Watched a movie and then travelled 53 cities hitchhiking

Ali Boluk, a university student in Kastamonu, influenced by a movie that tells the story of a traveller, travelled to 53 cities by hitchhiking for a year and a half against the words of his friends who told him he could not do it. Ali, a 26-year-old traveller with a 15 kg backpack, tells his travel story: “One of my university mates recommended me to watch the movie “Into the Wild,” when I was tired of the university exams. It was about the life of a traveller. It was the true story of a young man who spent two years travelling without spending a penny. I was impressed with the movie, and I decided to travel. When I shared my dream with my friends, no one believed that I could succeed; there were even ridiculers. I set out to prove to them I can do. Since then, I have been on the road with my backpack.” Ali Boluk, who travelled 53 cities in Turkey, including Marmara, Aegean, Akdeniz, Inner Anatolia, has spent less than a thousand Turkish liras on this trip. The next goal is to travel to Europe by hitchhiking.

4. Andre Brugiroux

young hitchhiker

Record-breaking travellers who travelled 193 countries

Andre Brugiroux is a traveller who spends his youthful years travelling to new countries. He has travelled to all 193 member countries known by the United Nations. Andre has been able to record his name as the first traveller to visit all the states. The world traveller has written down his travel experiences and memories and published them in book form. Andre Brugiroux made his first trip when he was 15 years old. The goal of a 79-year-old traveller, who made his first trip in 1955, was to learn a new language and a new culture. But travelling at this age was not unusual for Andre, as the military was waiting for him. So he travelled to several countries under the age of 18 and returned to this country. He was enlisted in the army and resumed his journey upon completion. After that, Andre Brugiroux has not stopped up today. Andre, who has spent his life travelling, has made most of his travel by hitchhiking. The traveller, who has been arrested seven times, does not lose desire and has written his name in history by travelling 193 countries. Moreover, he has written 11 books thanks to his travel experiences.

If you’ve read till the end, now you have extensive information about travelling by hitchhiking. Besides, you have information about the hitchhikers. Then it is your time, pack your backpack, and start your travel! If you are scared of the cost, travel by hitchhiking. If you refuse to endure the dangers and difficulties of hitchhiking, contact Pickvisa! Pickvisa will provide you with a visa wherever you need it!