Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Ultimate guide about Hitch Hiking around the world for females

For those who knows me, it won't be a surprise: I do hitch hike. I had done for many years in Germany, Hungary, Rumania, Belgium, Portugal, Japan and even the Caribbean!

And even more, I do it on my own (except for a few occasions going to south Hungary or in Finland). Also in New Zealand, plans changed unexpected and with my new friend, we hitchhiked from the Waitomo Caves to Auckland. My friend has no idea so I was teaching her how to do it.

First concern of everyone:
It's very dangerous!  My answer is always: And what it is not dangerous nowadays? The plane can get hijacked; someone can steal your belongings in the bus/train. We all hear about the poor Indian girl who was with a male companion and though she was taking a real bus to go home and was raped by a gang band of 6 members. Nothing is 100% safe. Are you going to stop traveling because it is not safe? Someone can enter in your own house and steal you/kill you.

We all hear the news about someone being killed while doing HH...Alarmist people that probably are scared to go out the corner.

Just follow your instincts that will tell you whether is safe or not.

This Argentinian guy was complaining about the high prices of transport in Belgium. So I just showed him how to HH from Brugge to Brussels.

Think also that all these drivers and truck drivers are probably on their way to somewhere else where someone is waiting for them. If it is a truck driver, probably someone is waiting for the delivery. They are usually normal people that woke up in the morning without planning to rape/steal or kill any hitchhiker. Honestly. More about that in the Psicology of the Hitchhiking part (right at the bottom)

Tricks for a safe Hitch Hiking

Make sure that you are visible enough The driver needs to have time to see you and to stop, if they want to.
With so many clothes and my white coat, I am visible enough to HH in Aland Islands, Finland.

Make sure that you are in the right place 
As I noticed in Japan, if you are not in a safe and legal place for them to stop, they won't do it. For more info about which one are the right places for hitchhiking in every city, check the hitchwiki (yes! There is a Wikipedia about hitchhiking too! And one about crossing the border where I contribute too about my strange land bordingcrossing like Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan)

Matsuda-san took me from Yokohama to Kyoto in only 8 hours!
Hitchhiking from dusk to dawn is a stupid idea 
As stated before, you need to be visible for the driver. Also, people tend to drink at night, so you don't want to risk your life traveling with a drunk driver. There is also less cars circulating at night, so you reduce your possibilities. And obviously, people at night may have darker intentions with you, so better avoid this time of the day.
Note: It is acceptable to travel at night if you took the ride when there was daylight still and you traveling to a further destination if you trust the driver.

Use the appropriate clothes  Especially if you are a lady, you don't want to broadcast the wrong impression to any potential driver. Dress modestly and if possible, colourful (to be more visible). If you look too creepy, you might lose a potential ride if the driver thinks you could be skipping showers for many days. Hygiene is always a must.

Best places to hitchhike
  • Petrol Stations
Especially the one in the middle of nowhere. Try to avoid the one in the city center as most probably only the locals will stop there. The best ones to catch a ride are the one with restaurants or rest areas for the truck drivers. If you are stuck, ask them for a ride (more about this later).

  • Local road before the high way
Hitch hiking in the highways is illegal in probably all the countries of the world (a part from being a stupid idea) but the little road that links with the high way is probably one of the spot to catch a direct ride to your destination, before the car start to speed up.

How to stop the cars
Stick out your thumb and smile. This is the clue. Try to anticipate to the driver. If the car is full, they might not take even if they would like to. Single ladies usually never stop (but they do if they go with the partner). Also families with kids. Don’t even bother. In hard countries you might have to wait for a while, so make sure you move your hand/fingers enough to avoid paralysation.
 Usually car drivers will smile back to you, make a hitch sign or something to keep you smiling. Smiling and have fun is the rule. And do not do it if you don’t feel confident enough.
In some countries, where English is not widely spoken, it’s not a bad idea to write your destination in a board paper in both local language and English.

I wrote this banner on my own to go from Osaka to Nagoya...Something was missing :P

Truck driver who took me from Osaka to Nagoya.

This trip was cool watching Shrek 3 in Japanese!
If you are stuck somewhere, you just ask the car drivers! In some countries, the car registration says the city of precedence. This should be the first one you would ask. Also, it worked for me in Japan, just to ask to the truck drivers where are they going (when they are stopped at the service station having a drink. They are very willing to help calling their friends by phone!

What to do when the car stops?
Approach the car, greet the driver. They will probably ask you “where are you going?”. This is your moment to carefully inspect the car and the intentions of your driver. You have only a few seconds for it. If your destinations is the same, on the way or close by, the driver will offer you a ride. Just pop in with your belonging. Keep all of them with you at all the times (that’s why it is a great idea to travel light. Less is more)

Ok, I got a ride to my final destination. Now I have to stay 8 hours in the car with a perfect stranger…

My cool drivers in New Zealand.

What to say?
Here it comes my favourite part: The Psicology of the Hitchhiking

Why do people hitchhike?

  • It’s free (o cheaper. Some countries as Romania, the passengers are supposed to contribute to the gas cost but if you are a foreigner they won’t bother to ask)
  • It’s quicker: Bus and train stations are located usually in the city center and the run under schedule. If you are not staying in the center but somewhere in the suburbs, you will find it easier to hitchhike outside the city rather than go back to the city center and catch a bus/train.
  • It’s adventurous: Dangerous or not, it’s obviously more fun than just go to the ticket booth and buy a seat place that will take you to your destination.
  • You reach places that you might not be able by public transport: I wanted to climb the beautiful sacred Hungarian mountain in Transylvania. If I wouldn’t have hitchhiked, by the time I walk the 11km, it would have been midnight and my trip completely ruined.
  • You avoid walking non sense for many Kms: Just hitch your finger and arrive. The Jeti Orguz Valley was beautiful enough for many hours of trekking, but it was getting late and I wanted to see the Blue Valley and the yurkas. I was lucky enough to catch rides in both directions.
  • You will meet the nicer people ever: If someone is nice enough to offer you a ride to your destination for free without even knowing you, most of the time they are nice indeed and they don’t have killer intentions.
Why the drivers take the hitchhikers?
Well, I would say, the main reason is that they had been also hitchhikers once when they were younger and now they want to pay their karma out ;) but also, most of them have to travel for thousands of kilometers without any company a part from the radio. And even the most boring-looking hitchhiker will have something interesting to talk about, right?

Is Hitchhiking a safe way to travel?
As stated before, nowadays, you have to be very careful with everything you do. I would not doubt of my drivers intentions unless I see something suspicious.
Personally, I never had any problem, no one tried to touch me even a hair and just meet wonderful and hospitable people that brought me to the exactly place I was going, offered me snacks, pay for my meals and got me some drinkable water. Even some truck drivers let me their phone number and informed me of their schedule if I wanted to hop in again for my return trip.
But this is only me.  The same answer, when someone asks me about working in cruise ships I say: this is not for everyone. Same with hitchhiking, you better have the right personality and be very sure of yourself. Have your sixth (and seventh, eighth…) sense ready in case something happened. Never trust anyone fully, but travel with open heart everyone you go.

Have you ever hitchhiked anywhere? Do you have any good experience to share?


Agness Walewinder said...

You are so crazy girl! It's actually the first post on how to hitch hike in a very professional way, well done! This is incredible how many friendly and reliable people you can meet! Be careful though!

Noelfy said...

Me crazy???? You just noticed? ;)
Of course it is a professional post! I am a professional hitchhiker too;)
I am glad you liked it! x
I am always careful! they should be careful with me too! :P

Івона said...

hello) you have really encouraged me with your post. I've hitchhiked a lot in my own country, but feel a little weird about hh abroad. Anyway, I think I'll do it, because if I traveled safely in East Europe, it can't be any worth somewhere like France or Italy, right?) Anyway, safe trips to you and maybe we'll meet out there somewhere)

Noelfy said...

Hello Ivona!!
Welcome to my blog! I am glad that I encoraged you and I hope it will be useful for another girls too. Just be always very careful,ok?
You will be surprised, but it's harder to HH in western Europe. Actually, as more "develop" the country is, it's get harder (people are more afraid of foreigner, they don't want dirty people in their cars, they watched too many Hollywood movies about serial killers... But hopefully you are lucky! I might be HH soon in France and I will let you know! Hope to meet you somewhere soon, I want to visit Ukraine!!
All the best and safe trips to you!

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