Thursday, March 17, 2022

Tips to Hitchhike

 Whether getting a lift to the corner shop, covering the four corners of the world or simply just in case, there is a method to the madness of hitchhiking. The following instructions have been collected from the experiences of many a weathered hitchhiker.

1. Invest in a good map.

 A detailed map is worth the moneyIn the US, look for a Rand McNally Map Book of the United States at truck stops. In the UK, look for an Ordnance survey map (ideally not explorer, though better than an A5 national map), these can be borrowed free of charge from libraries. It's what cross-country truckers use and it denotes rest areas, truck stops, and service stations. If you need a free map, though, find a tourist spot (hotel, airport, bus station, tourist information booth) and pick up a pamphlet that has a decent map inside. State welcome centers on interstate highways also have free highway maps for their state. Rental car places tend to have the best free maps. Look for a map that shows road numbers, rest areas, and gas stations.[1]
Become familiar with the road numbering system, if there is one. On US interstate highways, even numbered roads go east/west, and the higher the number, the more northern the interstate. Odd numbered roads go north/south, and the higher the number, the more eastern the interstate. Three-digit interstate numbers indicate spurs and loops off the main interstates. In Europe, two digit numbers ending in 5 indicate a reference road that goes from north to south, whereas those ending in 0 indicate reference roads that go from east to west.

2. Take precautions.

Scan your ID (and passport, if traveling internationally) and e-mail it to yourself. If it gets stolen, print out copies at a library. For passports, go to an embassy with your copies and do what you need to do to get a new passport. Americans will need to provide two passport photos and fill out a few forms to get a temporary passport.
Have the phone number for your credit card company before you leave. If you lose your credit card, call them immediately, cancel your card, and have them send a new one to an address where you can receive it (like an embassy).
Pack some pepper spray, in case you encounter a shady character, on or off the road.

3. Find a good hitchhiking spot.

 Get on the side of the city or town that's in the direction you're traveling. E.g. If you're heading west, get on the west side of town. Look for a spot that meets most or all of the following criteria:[1]
Is on a straight stretch of road (700 meters in either direction) and, preferably, has an incline so drivers can see you for a longer time
Cars passing at less than 50 mph (80km/hr)
Enough lighting to make eye contact with passing drivers
Cars headed in your direction
A visible and easily manageable pull-over and pick-up area
Does not have another hitchhiker in sight--if you see someone there first, go out of sight, and wait your turn.

4. Make a sign.

It shows people that you're literate, and you're on a planned trip. Pack a black or blue marker and a notebook. Write your destination clearly (it doesn't have to be your final destination). Add a border around the whole thing--it makes the sign a little easier to read.

5. Present yourself well.

 Look like you know where you are going, and what you are doing. Have a clean, well-kept appearance, hold a clear, neat sign, and smile.[1]
One male hitchhiker shares the following observations:[2]

You're less likely to get picked up if you wear too much denim
Shorts on male hitchers are looked down upon in many rural communities in the American South and West
Super short hair,tends to make people assume that you are AWOL from an institutional setting (prison, military,asylum, boarding school, etc), or recently released from any of the preceding.
Wearing sunglasses is not a good idea because it obscures eye contact
Couples tend to wait longer, based on 'real estate' issues in passing vehicles, however, make it clear from the start that you're in a relationship with the woman, or else the driver might go after her; be protective
Rain will not increase your chances of getting picked up, especially if you're totally drenched. Snow, however, or a recent snowfall, however, tends to increase odds of getting a ride. People generally don't mind the occasional snowflake on their upholstery,as it brushes off easily, before it melts, but rain on clothes tends to collect in seat cushions.

6. Be selective about which rides you take. 

You'll actually get to your destination faster that way. It's better to travel 50 miles and get dropped off at a gas station or truck stop than to travel 100 miles and get dropped off in a bad hitchhiking spot. So use that map! If you've been on a busy roadway for more than two hours and people aren't stopping, you're probably on the wrong road or the wrong side of the road.[1] If someone stops and you don't want to take the ride, for whatever reasons, tell them you want to wait for a ride that's longer or takes you to a better position. Just because they pull over doesn't mean you should get in. Always Follow Your Intuition.

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