I still remember my first hitchhiking was in Belize. Back in 2015.
Since then, I’ve hitchhiked around a handful of countries and some
of the most exotic cities to meet some interesting (and not so
interesting) people. Hitchhiking is nowadays very popular and
a common activity that many people worldwide get around, but it
evokes a lot of fears and concerns, especially among Westerners.
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If you are like me and if you always dreamed of hitchhiking but are
unsure of how and where to start? and how to stay safe, here are
some tips to hitchhike smart:
With Confident: Always remember to look drivers in the eye and
smile as they pass. Not in a crazy-murderer-smile, but in a friendly
and personable way. Smiling goes long way. Always pretend the
next car is a friend who is planning to pick you up. Try waving hello
or holding your gaze expectantly as they drive past. Keep in mind,
to make a positive impression, you really only have a second or
Choose a Good Spot: Cars will not stop for you if you are not in the
right spot. Interstate on-ramps are great because cars aren’t
moving very fast and there’s usually have space to pull over. Some
other great locations include intersections with stoplights or a stop
sign and gas stations. The longer a driver can get a good look at
you, the better. Keep an eye out for shady areas with protection
from the sun, too. If you have a good cell service or Internet
access on your phone, Google Maps in satellite view will show you
where the best on-ramps are.
Small Conversation: There are some reasons why people pick up
hitchhikers. Some of them are bored and want to have some fun
with travel stories. Maybe they were once hitchhikers and want to
share their experience with you. Maybe they just need your help
staying awake on a long drive.
Having a good conversation is how you pay these people back for
their generosity. Sometimes (if you were lucky) it can convert into
a free lunch, drinks, or maybe even an offer to stay at night.
Always be prepared: Don’t forget to pack enough food and water
to last a day, in case you get stuck in the middle of nowhere. Many
people like to bring a few bananas, apples, tortillas, tuna, and
maybe a package of cookies to share. A filtered water bottle will
prove big help, avoid drinking water from ponds. Always take one
or two dark-colored permanent markers to create signs, some
sunscreen to protect your skin, a first aid kit, warm clothes, and a rain jacket.