6 tips to start hitchhiking
While it’s not exactly easy to prepare for being lost in the middle of nowhere, there are ways you can prepare to deal with the situations you encounter on the road. Below are my 6 tips to start hitchhiking.
Prepare to wait
To anyone who wants to head out hitchhiking, the top tip to keep in mind is to be prepared for waiting long periods of time for a ride. It could mean waiting in a chronically quiet spot for a car to come around the corner, or it could mean hitchhiking on a city’s outskirts watching every car pass and no one stopping. Either way, hitchhiking is largely a waiting game, especially on a bad day when luck isn’t on your side. Relish in the free time and enjoy it. Someone will always stop for you.
Food and water
It’s an obvious point, but always carry as much food and water as you can. I always carry an extra bag with at least two litres of water and food such as long-lasting fruit or something that comes in a can. Added to this, a hitchhiking essential is peanut butter. It lasts incredibly long, you can eat it by itself and it fills you up.
Always top up your food and water at every opportunity. It’s awful to run out of either and I’ve heard of it happening. While you don’t need a five-course meal, you will need something to keep you going.
Know your spots
This comes with practice and experience, but you need to understand the difference between a good hitchhiking spot and a bad spot. A good spot will be on the road leading to where you are headed. Ideally you should stand on a hard shoulder so a driver can easily pull in and stop. If you see the road diverging into two roads ahead of where you’re standing, get walking (this isn’t always feasible, but highly recommended).
Sometimes, you’re not offered the liberty of a hard shoulder so you’ll have to make the most of it. As long as a driver can stop relatively safely, someone will.
Dress bright and clean
Hitchhiking relies a lot on instant first impressions. If a driver has even the slightest notion of not picking you up, they won’t. Make sure to wear something incredibly bright with colours such as blue, purple, etc. Wearing tie-dye gets a good, even mix. Also try to wash as much as possible, though again this isn’t always available.
The better first impression you show, the more likely you will get a ride. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the name of the game. Someone will always stop but presenting yourself as clean will increase your chances.
Tent and a sleeping bag
Carrying a tent means you can sleep where you please and you don’t have to worry about making it to the next town. Having the freedom to sleep wherever, whenever is fabulous and truly brings forth the essence of living on the road. Obviously, you’ll need a sleeping bag too. A cheap two-man tent should do the job for a single person and, depending on where you are, a light sleeping bag should suffice. Both are easy to attach to the bottom of your backpack so you won’t have to carry them as you walk.
Many travelers will use tarp instead of a tent. You can roll out tarp anywhere and lay on it. It’s cheap, durable and simple to carry. If the weather gets bad, you can easily roll yourself up burrito-style to avoid the elements.
Take everything as it comes
Remember, you’re on the road with endless possibilities and people ahead of you.
We all get stuck at some point when hitchhiking. We all have off-days where we wish we were curled up by the fire with a warm cup of tea, or at the bar with our mates talking nonsense. When you start hitchhiking it is difficult, but it’s important to remind yourself how beautiful it is to be living free on the road.
These moments are fleeting and once you remind yourself why you’re travelling, everything will work out; the universe provides. Take everything as it comes. Use the opportunity to grow. Smile.
Want to read more about hitchhiking? Check out my Wonderful hitchhiking moments and see what awaits you on the road.