As you may have seen in my CouchSurfingÂ post, Iâ€™ve recently discovered a â€˜communityâ€™ of people who are more than happy to share something for nothing. Many people say, and theyâ€™d be right.. the best things in life are free.
After meeting an inspiring group of Germans, â€˜freshâ€™ off the tramprennen route. I was adamant to try hitchhiking. I can now, categorically, say it is one of the quickest and most fun ways to travel (best of all itâ€™s free). The lady that sealed the deal for me was one of these Germans. She was middle aged, very well spoken in German and English and had her own family, husband and children. It puzzled me as to why she might want to hitchhike, other than for a travelling vacation (she said any A-B journey sheâ€™d make would be via hitchhike). She could obviously afford a train or plane ticket, owned her own car and had enough people around her for help. So it hit me, itâ€™s purely for the buzz.
The next day me and 3 others hitchhiked for the first time, 150kms from Plovdiv to Sofia. It was a success and yet now, in hindsight, I can see the naivety of us 3 beginners.
Since then I have gained experience and feel comfortable with my thumb up on the roadside, but thereâ€™s a few things youâ€™ll want to keep in mind if you also want to follow these tracks..
1.Â Â Â 1.Â Wait for your ride.
Thereâ€™s no point in walking along the road with your thumb up, nobody is going to slow down to your pace and talk as you walk.
2.Â Â Â Â 2.Â Make sure youâ€™re visible.
Donâ€™t hang around on a bend where someone will just catch a glimpse, theyâ€™ll need ample time to slow down (and stop â€“ youâ€™re not james bond)
3.Â Â Â Â 3.Â Write a sign
BIG CLEAR LETTERS, SPREAD EVENLY OVER AN EMPTY PIECE OF CARDBOARD, will do just nicely.
4.Â Â Â Â 4.Â Face traffic/Approach drivers
The first impression can be made with a simple smile, or if youâ€™re at petrol stations a quick chat asking drivers where theyâ€™re heading can let them know thereâ€™s not a crazy axe murderer. Even if you do carry an axe in your pack.
The most important piece of advice I can give you is….
5.Â Â Â Â 5.Â LOCATION
Iâ€™ve found most of my success in motorway service stations or on slip roads leading to the highway your intending to travel. Donâ€™t bother in the centre of town when everyone and their nan is going shopping, you need to be at least towards the outskirts/highways.
BE PATIENT! Not the first guy or gal is going to pick you up, although it can happen, Iâ€™ve never waited longer than an hour but it can happen, so maybe itâ€™s not the best idea if youâ€™re heading to a job interview.
Be realistic: the size of your party, the distance of your travel, who youâ€™re trying to flag down etc etc…
And lastly, thereâ€™s a saying: beggars canâ€™t be choosers. Which is almost right. Someone may not take you the whole journey but half is better than none, however if youâ€™re going 100kms, you donâ€™t want to try and catch 10 separate rides.