However, don’t let your romantic heart take the lead. Your mind must read these short advices before. It is a hard task to travel with weird unknown people in their cars and to stay alive.
Here are small, but very important rules that will keep the police from investigating your mysterious disappearance:
- In some states hitchhiking is strictly forbidden. If you live in such place, don’t risk your freedom, just take a bus.
- I heard a lot from other hitchhikers that there are plenty of places with safe roads. Most of them mentioned are in Iceland, but none of them had ever traveled there. I guess it is just from the same theme – “the grass is always greener”…
- You can’t go hitchhiking alone. It has to be the first rule. Never ever travel alone, no matter if you are beautiful young lady or beardy man with muscles all over your body. There is always admirers of all the types, and it is not cool to jump from the car till it is still moving, just to escape from being raped.
- Listen to your gut. If you see the weird creepy guy or two in the car, don’t even go to them. Just wave your hand and focus on finding a normal one.
- Travel in pairs, it is always better. Two people can easily find free places verses three or four.
- I don’t know about international hitchhiking, but in Ukraine and Russia, we use the thumb to show that we want to ride for free and a whole palm to show that we can pay.
- Always tell your destination to the driver. Maybe he can take you half way. If he will tell you that it is no matter for him and all up to you – then just run far from his car.
- Put your bag in front of you to show that you are a hitchhiker.
- Some people write signs with the name of places. I have never done it, but it is easier to catch the right car.
- In the car you can sit in the front place and that will mean that you are the one who is talking with the driver while your partner is resting behind. It is a well-known rule: you must speak to a driver, as it is your payment for your ride. However, not every driver loves to chat with strangers. Some of them just don’t want to leave you in a scary dark place near the forest 🙂
- Let the driver choose the topic of conversation, tell them about places you have already visited, ask their advice.
- Be ready to wake the driver constantly. Sometimes they can fall asleep after the whole night on the road, and your task is to keep him awake. Speak loudly, change the tone, and pick interesting topics. The most dangerous time is during the night – from 4 a.m. till 5 a.m. Ukrainian drivers call it the “dog’s hour”. It is the worst time for them, as it is hard to resist and not to shut your eyes for a few seconds. This can be a fatal mistake.
- During the night you can catch mainly the truck drivers, and they have a lot of experience with hitchhikers. They can tell you a lot of interesting stories, share their food and buy a coffee at the gas station.
- It is driver’s car and his or her rules. Don’t ask to turn off the music. If you don’t like it or something else in the car, just ask to stop the car and try to find another.
I cannot say that I am a very experienced hitchhiker. However, during a few summers and springs I traveled all over Ukraine and a part of Russia. I’ve met so many good people. I escaped from a lot of bad people. I was in the car with a nun, with foreign sellers, with an orphan who opened his own business, John Lennon fan, creepy looking golden heart truck driver, and so much more.
A lot of people fed me, some of them turned to another road just to help us find the right place to stand.
I tried to remember every story that I’ve heard, but unfortunately it is impossible. However, no matter what, I will always remember their kind hearts.
Philosopher, writer, hitchhicker