Passionate about travelling? Not scared going out of your comfort zone? Want to bring some excitement into your life? Then you are in a right place!
Travelling is the most popular trend nowadays, especially among youngsters. However, not every person is able to do travelling, because of the financial side of it. It surely requires some amount of money to cover transport expenses, living costs, food etc. However, there are some things you can save money on.
You have probably heard about auto-stop? The more advanced travelers nowadays use the word “hitchhiking”. Hitchhiking is getting more and more common way to travel these days. Not only because it’s basically free, but also because it’s unusual, brings you lots of new emotions as well as new acquaintances and even friends!
Last year my friend and I made a 12 days non-stop hitchhike across Europe. We started from Italy, went to France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, Germany, Sweden and finished our journey in Finland. On our way we met bunch of amazing people and got a ride from 17 drivers: some German and Italian students, DJ and wine bottle designer, pretty old couple that drove us way further than they needed to, policeman, volleyball coach, oil and cacao company worker, 86 years old sailor going to a party, French couple going for vacation, lady who works with mentally ill people, a lawyer & doctor couple who walked back to us because they wanted to help, two Finnish guys, airport push/pull plane driver, the girl from movie-making industry, oil distributor, top manager of IKEA warehouse and a chef cook of 3 top restaurants around Helsinki.
However, if you are up for trying this way of travelling, you need to plan things well and some things even beforehand. So, here I am to give you some hints and to share my personal experience.
1. Choose a good location
Location is the most important thing in getting a ride. You need to find a good spot where you can be easily seen and where cars can stop safely. Therefore, it is essential to have a map. For a hitchhiking spot I recommend a public highway – it is absolutely the best spot to catch a ride. Going downtown is a bad idea since it´s gonna be hard to find a long-distance ride from there; also downtown there is usually no space for a car to stop, because of the heavy traffic in the center.
Also, a good idea is to join different hitchhiking clubs and to check out the world HitchWiki map where travelers mark the best hitchhiking spots to get a ride from. If you can’t get a ride on the road, try petrol stations. Just walk around, ask people to give you a lift. This will be helpful!
2. Take some comfortable and bright clothes with you
It is really important to dress up properly. You will walk a lot, so make yourself ready for it. Think about comfortable clothes and shoes. Fill your backpack only with necessary things! Check out few tips for How to Pack a Backpack. Personally I suggest taking few T-shirts, extra pair of socks, rain cover, deodorant and camera. Color is important! Wear bright clothes, so that drivers can easily see you from a distance. Such items like a flashlight, a pocketknife, black marker for writing on a cardboard, sunscreen, etc. would become useful and they don’t weight much.
3. Don´t hitchhike alone
If you use this way of travelling – always take a friend with you. However, it’s good to know, that you cannot take all of your friends either! Two people is usually the best option, since cars don’t have space for more. Also for safety reasons, it is always fun to travel with somebody you know. Stay positive, talk, laugh – this experience will stay with you forever!
4. Stay awake!
If there are two of you travelling, one person should always be awake! If it’s been really hard day and you need some sleep, you can do rotation with your friend. One person sleeps, another follows the road and vice versa. It is also a good idea, to keep some conversation going with the driver. Usually the people who give you a ride are open-minded and very interesting people (they probably pick you up to have a talk and not to get bored), so grab the opportunity! Make friends, build connections!
5. Stay safe
Hitchhiking might seem risky, but that should not stop you from trying it. Just always keep an eye out! If the driver looks suspicious to you, do not accept a ride! It is good to remember the car number and even take a picture of a car if possible, and send it to your friend or family before leaving.
To sum up, I just want to say: never be afraid of trying something new and as my teacher once said “Live fast, love hard and die laughing”!