Hitchhiking: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hitchhiking in low-populated areas
Winter hitchhiking in Russia

Hitchhiking (also known as thumbing, tramping, hitching, autostop or thumbing up a ride) is a means of transportation that is gained by asking people, usually strangers, for a ride in their automobile or other road vehicle to travel a distance that may either be short or long. The latter may require many rides from different people; a ride is usually but not always free. If one wishes to indicate that they need a ride, they must simply make a hand gesture. In North America, the gesture is to stick one of their thumbs upward. In other parts of the world, it's more common to use a gesture where the index finger is pointed at the road. This cultural difference stems partly from an alternate offensive meaning for the thumbs up gesture in parts of Europe and Asia.


Legal status

These two signs are used in the United States to prohibit hitchhiking.
Hitchhiking (called liften) is legal in the Netherlands. This sign indicates a good place to get a lift, close to Amstel railway station in Amsterdam

Hitchhiking is a historically common practice worldwide, and hence there are very few places in the world where laws exist to restrict it. However, a minority of countries have laws that restrict hitchhiking at certain locations.[1] In the United States, for example, some local governments have laws to outlaw hitchhiking, with safety being the primary concern. In 1946 New Jersey arrested and imprisoned a hitchhiker leading to intervention by ACLU.[2] In Canada, several highways have restrictions on hitchhiking, particularly in British Columbia and the 400-series highways in Ontario. In all countries in Europe with the exception of Slovakia[3] it is legal to hitchhike, and in some places even encouraged, however it is illegal to hitchhike where pedestrians are banned, such as Motorways (United Kingdom) or the Autobahn (Germany)

Signaling method

A typical hitchhiker's gesture.

The hitchhiker's method of signaling to drivers differs around the world. In the U.S. and UK, one would point one's thumb up, while in some places in South America one displays to an oncoming car the back of one's hand with the index finger pointing up.[citation needed] In India, the hand is waved with the palm facing downwards (or the U.S./UK way).[citation needed] In Israel the hitchhiking signal is to hold one's fist out with the index finger pointing towards the road.

A hitchhiker may also hold a sign displaying their destination and/or the languages spoken. A more recent method is to go to websites and arrange lifts beforehand, without soliciting directly from the road. This way of transport is a modern way of ridesharing/carpooling. To increase the success rate, hitchikers sometimes smile to show that they are friendly. Also waving some money can be used in desperate situations to demonstrate that you are willing to pay for the ride. Made popular by the 1932 film It Happened One Night female hitchhikers have found success in signaling cars with the exposure of a leg like Claudette Colbert had in the movie.

Often nothing more than communication and entertainment of the driver is given or performed in exchange for the lift, but in some places, such as parts of central Asia, hitchhikers in cargo trucks, especially foreigners, are expected to pay for the ride, usually some portion of the usual bus fare for the trip.[citation needed].


There are many reasons for hitchhiking, including a lack of personal transportation, a lack of money for public transit, or because public transit is unavailable or too infrequent. These may generally be regarded as reasons of immediacy, as opposed to hitchhikers who pursue the activity with something more akin to a major passion for it, such as the love of adventure, or for reasons having to do with self-discovery or self-realization.

Irv Thomas, a lifelong American hitchhiker, has illuminated the aspect of an unmediated exposure to reality in his memoir, Derelict Days... Sixty Years on the Roadside Path to Enlightenment, noting that in today's security-focused world, hitchhiking may be the only remnant of a world in which developments were largely left to chance. In venturing such journeys, the discovery and realization that 'good things consistently happen' can be a life-changing outcome.

Though for many, hitchhiking is simply recreation. The ability to travel for free to a far-off location, whilst meeting interesting people along the way, is sufficient reason for many to hitchhike.

A definition of hitchhiking put forward by Max Neumegen, ex-world overland traveler, 'mentor' of "hitchhiking with a bike, the ultimate way in travelling", and member of the Trans Africa Walk for Peace Expedition 1979; "the hitchhiker is there so you can do your good deed for the day".

Sport and leisure

Hitchhiking in New Zealand, 2006

For many, hitchhiking is a great adventure and challenge. Each year hundreds of students from the U.K. take part in a sponsored hitch to Morocco or Prague in aid of Link Community Development; in 2007, 782 people hitched the 1,600 miles to Morocco and raised almost £340,000 to improve the quality of education in Africa. Other UK students partake in "Jailbreak" where a group of students hold a competition, usually in the summer holidays/vacation, to see who can get farthest from their university without spending any money on travel (whether money can be spent on food/shelter is up to the participants to decide). Warwick University in particular operates jailbreak to great success - in 2009 the winning team travelled to Tenerife in just 36 hours.[4]

There were fifty hitchhikers supported by several MEPs called Eurizons that did the Tour for Global Responsibility. They traveled over 2500 km. In Eastern Europe, especially Lithuania and Russia hitchhiking is an adventure sport. There are clubs, hitchhiking schools, and competitions. From 1992 to 1993, Russian hitchhiker Alexey Vorov made a first trip around the world, hitchhiking by cars, planes and boats. In January 2007 197 students hitchhiked from Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland to Paris, France in Race to Paris, an event co-ordinated by the University of St Andrews Charities Campaign. The winners made the journey in just 19 hours and 16 minutes. The event returned as Race to Amsterdam in January 2008, in which 214 racers participated, and Race to Berlin in January 2009 - the largest charity hitchhike in the University's history, which involved nearly 270 racers, and raised over £20,000 for the Campaign's nominated Charities. In October 2007, Pete Stephens and Tim Keevil (two students from Bristol) completed a hitch hike to Singapore from London, taking seven weeks and crossing over 6600 miles. Raising over £3000 for Students Partnership Worldwide and Epilepsy Action.

The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) international student group from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam went on two hitch-hiking trips during the 2007-2008 school year, one being to Paris and the other to Berlin. About 25 groups of usually two students each successfully made both trips. Only one group managed not to arrive in Berlin, being stranded in Amersfoort.

Despite this continued interest in hitch-hiking, it is widely accepted that the practice has declined in developed countries since the 1970s, perhaps because of a small number of high-profile cases in which hitch-hikers have been killed, and negative media images of hitch-hikers as themselves a source of threat. Reasons for hitch-hiking's decline, and possible means of reviving it in safer and more organised forms, are discussed by Graeme Chesters and David Smith in one of the very few academic discussions of hitch-hiking, The Neglected Art of Hitch- hiking.

A hitchhiker is also a type of letterbox, which is part of an outdoor hobby known as letterboxing. In this hobby, the hitchhiker (a stamp and a logbook) are discovered in a letterbox by a letterboxer, and are removed, to be placed in another letterbox elsewhere.

Hitchhiking in popular culture

The characters portrayed by Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable attempt to hitchhike in It Happened One Night.


The writer Jack Kerouac immortalized hitchhiking in his book On the Road. The road has a fascination to Americans; countless writers have written of the road and/or hitchhiking, such as John Steinbeck, whose book The Grapes of Wrath opens with a hitched ride. Kurt Vonnegut's perpetual protagonist, Kilgore Trout hitchhikes halfway across the country in Breakfast of Champions. Roald Dahl wrote a short story called The Hitchhiker, in which he uses the idea that you can hear fascinating stories when giving people a lift to introduce one of his trade-mark eccentric characters. Another lesser known author, a lifetime hitchhiker named Irv Thomas, incorporates hitchhiking into his writing perspective and lifestyle in Innocence Abroad: Adventuring Through Europe at 64 on $100 Per Week, as well as recounting his hitchhiking travels in a memoir, Derelict Days...Sixty Years on the Roadside Path to Enlightenment. (In June, 2009, Thomas extended that lifetime record to 66 years, with a long-distance road trip at age 82). Douglas Adams postulated on interstellar hitchhiking in his cult classic The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, while fellow science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein described interdimensional hitchhiking in his book Job: A Comedy of Justice. The protagonist of Tom Robbins' Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Sissy Hankshaw, becomes legendary as a hitchhiker in part because of her unusually large thumbs. British comedian Tony Hawks writes about hitchhiking around Ireland with a refrigerator as the result of a drunken bet in Round Ireland With a Fridge. An in-depth analysis on the practice of hitchhiking in Poland was published, aptly called Autostop Polski ("Polish hitchhiking").[5] In 2005, No Such Thing As A Free Ride?, a comprehensive anthology of hitchhiking stories and viewpoints was published by Cassell Illustrated. The book was serialized in The Times and named The Observer's Travel Book of the Week. Edited by Tom Sykes and Simon Sykes, it featured contributions from Mike Leigh, Sir Alan Parker, Sir Max Hastings, Tony Hawks and Eric Burdon, amongst others. In 2008, No Such Thing As A Free Ride? North American Edition was published by Goose Lane of Canada and featured JP Donleavy, Margaret Avison, Doug Stanhope, Jeff Lewis and Will Durst, amongst others.





Famous hitchhikers

Two boys hitchhiking in California, circa 1939
  • Jack Kerouac hitchhiked in America and wrote many books about his experience.
  • Devon Smith was listed in Guinness Book of World Records for most cumulative miles hitchhiked (1973 to 1985), over 290,988 mi. He also held the record for hitchhiking all 48 contiguous U.S. states in 33 days during 1957.[citation needed]
  • Stephan Schlei, from Ratingen in Germany. Hitchhiked more than 621,371 mi. The Guinness Book of Records, before they removed all hitchhiking records, used to say that he is the World's No.1 Hitchhiker.[citation needed]
  • W. H. Davies, a Welsh poet and tramp, who hitchiked America during the early 20th century
  • Juan Villarino, founder of Autostop Argentina, began his round the world hitch-hiking trip in 2005, with the challenge of portraying world hospitality. His journey included countries such as Iraq, Iran, afghanistan and Tibet. He has written several books, and relates his chronicles in his website*
  • Billy Cook a true hitchhiking murderer.
  • The Hitcher, a green cockney man who was featured in The Mighty Boosh.
  • Chris McCandless, subject of the book, Into the Wild, hitchhiked throughout the western region of North America in the early 1990s.
  • Suzanne MacNevin (feminist writer) spent several years hitchhiking in Canada and the United States during the late 1990s.[6]
  • Ludovic Hubler, 29, is a French hitchhiker who spends $10 a day while on the move. He began his life as a nomad at the Val-d'Isère ski station in the Alps on January 1, 2003, equipped with just a backpack. He hitchhiked to the ‘end of the world’, Ushuaia in Argentina, the southernmost city in the world.[7] The trip that was supposed to take 2 years ended in 2008.
  • Joe Bennett, New Zealand newspaper columnist and author, hitchhiked around the world for 10 years.[8]
  • Ford Prefect, a fictional space-hitchhiking travel writer in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
  • Hitchhiker (character), a hitchhiking lunatic killer played by actor Edwin Neal in the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).

See also


  1. ^ Nwanna, p.573
  2. ^ "So You Won't Talk, Huh?". Time magazine. November 18, 1946. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,777285,00.html. Retrieved 2009-01-27. "In her cell, Susan learned that it also (technically) forbids hitchhiking, and demands (by a law passed in 1799) that strangers be able to give a good account of themselves. ... Attorney James A. Major of the American Civil Liberties Union demanded that she be given a new trial." 
  3. ^ Hitchwiki.org [1], Retrieved 2009-11-17.
  4. ^ http://www.warwickjailbreak.com
  5. ^ Autostop Polski details from Korporacja Ha!art, in Polish, retrieved December 4, 2006.
  6. ^ Tales of a Female Hitchhiker, retrieved on May 31, 2007.
  7. ^ The Hindu : Metro Plus Coimbatore : Hitchhiking around the world
  8. ^ Bennett, Joe (2000). "A thumb in the air". Fun Run and other Oxymoron's. Simon and Schuster UK Ltd. 


  • Nwanna, Dr. Gladson I. (2004). Americans Traveling Abroad: What You Should Know Before You Go, Frontier Publishers, Inc., ISBN 1890605107.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Tips for hitchhiking article)

From Wikitravel

Trying to attract a ride west of Novi Sad (Serbia)
Trying to attract a ride west of Novi Sad (Serbia)

This article is a travel topic.

Hitchhiking is one of the cheapest ways of traveling. By tradition, hitchhiking is defined as soliciting a ride by standing at the edge of a road, facing traffic, with one's thumb extended. You can meet a lot of people and make lots of friends. You can also become very frustrated, or encounter danger on the way; today's drivers are more fearful of picking up hitchhikers than in the past. But it's also a great feeling to get a ride after you've been waiting for a long time. People who do pick up hitchhikers tend to be very friendly. However, hitchhikers also risk being picked up by someone who is an unsafe driver or even personally dangerous.

Hitchhiking in itself is rarely illegal, but there are often rules about where you can do it (e.g. not on highways, near intersections, at bus stops), so read up on the rules first to avoid getting booked for "trespassing" or "obstructing traffic".

There is a Hitchhiking Wiki. As of December 2008, it is nowhere near comprehensive but has some useful information.

  • Be prepared to walk all day. It is not easy and you need to think that it is more of a walking adventure with a chance of getting a ride than anything else. This is the most unanticipated problem of most hitchhikers today.
  • Buy a map of the area, so you can determine whether a ride will actually bring you closer to your destination.
  • Learn the language, at least a little. Hitchhiking can be a good way to improve your conversation skills. Often drivers pick up hikers to have some conversation on an otherwise long and lonely trip.
  • Make sure to carry enough food and drink if you're going for a long trip. Gas stations are usually a bit expensive for replenishing these supplies.
  • Arrange sleeping places. For example a Hospitality exchange host such as couchsurfing.org, a youth hostel, or a squat are good places to start. If you cannot arrange a place, take a tent with you, rubberized German poncho, and/or a warm sleeping bag.
  • Remember, hitchhiking may be illegal in some areas or on certain types of roads. Enforcement of laws against hitchhiking may vary. Ask locals. It is usually a bad idea to hitchhike if an encounter with the police would create additional problems (e.g. you are in possession of contraband or are subject to an outstanding arrest warrant).
  • Dress in layers if the weather is uncertain. Be sure that your heavier layer will shield you from cold winds and random showers, but is light enough that it won't weigh you down too much when you remove it. Some people (for example the "Moscow school of hitchhikers") swear that bright colors with high visibility get you away quicker.
  • Some hitchhikers recommend taking a foldable bike (which can be stowed in a car's back seat) as back-up transportation.
  • Bring a black marker, a hat, a flashlight, a pocketknife, sunscreen, etc... it is best to be prepared and these items do not weigh much.
  • The three most important factors for getting a ride are: location, location, and location. You need to find a place where you can be seen early (to give the driver time to decide to pick you up), and where the driver can safely pull over. Ideally, there should be some traffic, but not too much either, as this makes pulling over difficult and makes drivers assume that you can always get a ride with somebody else.
  • Don't try to catch a ride from downtown, instead catch public transport to the edge of town. City drivers are mostly traveling short distances, and it can be difficult for you to stand out or get them to stop in heavy traffic. Check your map, or ask around, to find a good spot.
  • For long-distance travel, never get taken into the center of town! You will most likely find it very difficult to get back out. Get dropped off close to the highway.
  • Highway rest areas are ill-advised, particularly in the USA, due to the number of "disturbing incidents" at these locales... and the reputation for them which leads many motorists to avoid them. Motorists may assume that you were thrown out of a vehicle there.
  • An exception to the "rest area" rule is the commercial rest area on toll roads. These may be labeled "oasis" or "service plazas". These are generally safer due to the fact that there are staffed businesses and generally more people patronizing them. You will want to purchase a small item so as not to be trespassing on the concessionaires' leased area. A CB radio (to talk to truck drivers, and other people with CB radios passing by on the main line of the highway) is a good tool for service areas. You can purchase a handheld one for around US$40.00 at many truck stops.
  • The absolute best place to catch a good ride is on a public highway on ramp, near a truck stop, but not on the truck stop property itself, as those are good places to get thrown out of for trespassing. In Northern California (US 101) and in the Seattle area, many highway on-ramps are also bus stops and thus do double duty in regards to catching a ride.
  • Land borders where traffic has to stop are great. One caveat to hitching just before a border, however, is that drivers may be wary of transporting you across an international border itself, thus decreasing your chances of catching a ride. You may find better success crossing the border on foot, and hitching from the other side. If you attempt this, be aware of when a border is buffered by a militarized "no-man's land," through which it is illegal to cross on foot or camp, making it crucial to find a ride within this few-hundred-meter stretch of road before dark. The border between Turkey and Greece is such an example.
  • Gas stations where many cars stop are good. In some countries, such as Mexico, the attendants may even help you on your journey. It takes a bit more gusto, but there is a much better chance of success if you actually ask someone for a ride. Though, if you are not doing business at the station, there is a possibility of getting thrown off the property. Just be cordial and leave if you are asked to.
  • Laybys and roadside picnic areas are good, although less so in the USA as roadside picnic areas tend to be in the middle of nowhere.
  • Avoid places where traffic cannot stop legally, like no-stopping zones, taxi stands, etc. The only people likely to give you a ride from these places are the police, and you may not want to go where they want to take you. Although they could also drop you in a much better spot if they're in a good mood.
  • Getting a ride at night is very difficult. You might have some luck at a gas station, where people can see you, but realistically you are probably better off camping out for the night and starting off again at first light.
  • Take advice from non-hitchhikers as to the best places for hitching with a grain of salt.
  • Check the map for popular tourist spots in the area - Rental car agencies have often good and free maps.
  • Asking around doesn't hurt. If people notice you're friendly and speak their language you have a much higher chance of getting a ride from them.
  • Walk in the direction you want to go, especially if nobody is stopping to pick you up. However, if you wander too far from town, people may wonder what you did to get stranded there. The wisest strategy usually consists of standing at the last traffic or street light in a town on smaller roads, or the last highway on-ramp in larger ones. Also, walking away from town may put you in an inhospitable environment such as a desert, and be counterproductive. Statistically every on-ramp you pass while walking increases the chances of a person going to your final destination passing you, and hitchhiking truly is a numbers game, the more cars that pass you the more likely you are to get a ride.
  • Make sure you know the right gestures used locally to stop a car. The thumb up sign doesn't work in many parts of the world. An outstretched waving arm is another common gesture, but generally defer to locals. Drivers may also use gestures: pointing downwards with the index finger means that they're staying in town. A swirling motion with a downward pointed finger is the same, but can also mean that you might see them again in a minute or so as they make the trip again. A flat hand down means that the car is weighted down, aka full.
  • Nod or wave thanks to all who at least give you eye contact and especially those who give you gestures explaining why they cannot take you. Not only does it lighten the fear of hitchers and make you feel much better along the way, some may even come back and pick you up. Not to be counted on though.
  • Be aware that solitary male drivers are the most likely to pick you up. Do not completely discount female drivers as a possibility, but families are near impossible.
  • Wear bright clothing so that drivers can see you.
  • A big cardboard sign with an indication of where you want to go can help. Short general directions like North, or West can be written bigger - and seen from further away - than a longer city or town, but a city is more useful for drivers.
    • Nonspecific 'general' directions are really only useful at on-ramps where traffic goes in two directions, like standing before a toll plaza, otherwise, the next town with a truck stop is recommended.
    • Avoid writing destinations far away, this gives you a good excuse to get off if you feel uncomfortable with the driver, you can always agree to go further if the driver turns out to be going your way. Also, indicating close destinations will attract short lifts. In Germany 200 km seems to be a good distance.
    • It can be a good idea to not indicate your final destination. If you can get a ride in a direction that is not exactly the best one, it could still be a good idea to take it, since you might be able to get more rides from that spot.
    • Some people do not believe in direction signs, and suggest funny ones ("I DON'T STINK") or nothing at all.
    • Holding your sign upside down may sometimes help to get a ride out of pity.
    • If you speak the local language, saying this on your sign may also be useful.
  • Some drivers will not stop based on their own racial, cultural, or gender prejudice. While this can be upsetting, consider that you may be better off not riding with such a person.
  • If you are travelling with a companion, stand together and make it obvious that you want a ride together. Drivers don't want to be surprised by an extra person. Do not let someone split you up unless you are very desperate.
  • Always stay happy - even if people react nastily.
  • If you are more of an adventurous type, try hiking around with a large or unusual object. Tony Hawks hiked through Ireland with a fridge (see http://www.tony-hawks.com/riwaf.php) and wrote a book about it. It seems to help getting rides and... there's always something to talk about!
  • If hitchhiking in the USA, you may want to buy a military-style carrying sack at a Military Surplus Store. These items are easily recognizable and can incite interest/sympathy from drivers. They're also relatively cheap. If the driver asks about your military background, a white lie such as "My cousin gave it to me" will usually do the trick. Be prepared to have a small, believable story ready if you use such an explanation. The downside to a military carrying sack is that they're harder to carry than a framed backpack.
  • Another writer, based on decades of hitching in the USA, has developed these rules: One, wear white or a very light color. It implies cleanliness and is far easier to see, plus the cops react favorably. Two, remember that the driver has only a second to see you. Stand near a highway sign so drivers have a better chance to focus in time to stop. Third, if you cannot walk where you're going, don't try. Better to spend some time at a fair spot than waste that time trudging through the boonies. Fourth, if possible carry your belongings in a large briefcase or similar. You'll be welcome in clean new cars and in places where a duffle bag is inappropriate. Visiting a laundromat pays off in better rides. Fifth, use signs. A piece of yellow lightweight plastic sign material is ideal, along with strips of black electrical tape to make the letters. A big LA works better than a smaller Los Angeles. Sixth, do not smoke while trying to catch a ride. Decide which is more important to you. Finally, ask yourself...would I pick me up? Think like a driver who might enjoy giving you a ride.
  • If you're waiting for a long time and all the cars that want to take you go in the wrong direction it can be a good idea to let them take you anyway - just to drop you at a better spot.
  • Sometimes you get an offer that brings you a little way in the right direction. This can be okay, but if you're at a place where lots of cars stop, it could be a better idea to wait for an offer that brings you a lot further.
  • Ask if you can be dropped at a good spot for getting more rides if your ride isn't bringing you to your final destination, e.g. a gas station or a toll place.
  • When possible, try to agree about where to be dropped off so you don't end up in a bad place.
  • As an alternative to waiting by the roadside, many websites allow users to try and pre-organize hitch hiking trips. Sites in different countries use different systems, but it is best to find a site which concentrates on long-distance and one-off trips rather than regular commutes [1], [2].
  • Using a digital system is good for safety as it provides a record of communication between driver and passenger should anything go wrong.
  • Take care who you get a ride with. Some criminals prey on hitchhikers. If in doubt, turn down the ride. If you're in doubt, ask the driver where they're going and tell them you're heading elsewhere.
  • Note the vehicle registration, and its make, model, and color before you take ride. If you have a cellphone, text this information to a friend.
  • If possible, hitchhike with a friend.
  • Choose a car with a single occupant or a couple rather than the last seat in a car full of people.
  • Regardless of gender, choose wisely; some people have loose hands. It's more dangerous when you're riding with multiple people.
  • Sit in the front passenger seat, if you can. Rear doors often have child locks on them, meaning they cannot be opened from the inside. If you must sit in the back, check the child lock is off before you close the door.
  • Keep your bag or backpack in easy reach, so you can grab it if you need to bail out. Be prepared to lose it if it is locked in the trunk.
  • Wear at least some of your valuables (i.e. passport, wallet, money, I.D., bank and credit cards, etc.) under or in your clothes, rather than in your pack. Keep them in different places, so that if you lose one item, you don't lose them all. It is a good idea to have your wallet plus two hiding places, an obvious one and a not so obvious one. A good guideline is that criminals will go for your sock before padding up the groin.
  • In some places, the police take a dim view of hitchhikers and will arrest you based on the slightest excuse (or at least cost you time you could use to catch rides by running field interviews on you).
  • While pedestrians may have the right to walk along most roads, doing so in some places can get you arrested, cited, ticketed, or verbally warned. Find out about which roads you can and cannot walk along.
  • As a general rule, avoid walking along freeways, particularly if it looks unsafe to do so or the jurisdiction you are in prohibits it. In some areas where it is legal to walk on the freeway, it may be wiser and safer to stay on the on-ramp anyway, based on the infrastructure of the road.
  • If you arrange a ride through a ride-matching website, you can request the ID number of the driver who offers the ride; give this number to someone at home. Ask for this ID when you meet the driver; most will understand this precaution.


This is a brief index of hitchhiking conditions around the world, ranking countries on four indices:

  • whether hitchhiking is popular or even understood, on a scale of common → occasional → rare → unknown
  • whether getting rides is generally easy, on a scale of easy → medium → hard → very hard
  • whether hitchhiking is legal (outside highways and tollroads, which are nearly universally off limits to foot traffic)
  • whether it's possible to hitchhike for free, or whether payment is expected if picked up by a stranger.

"Varies" means that conditions vary dramatically within the country - please consult the individual country articles linked below for more detail.

Country Popularity Ease Legal Payment expected
Argentina common medium yes yes
Australia occasional medium yes no
Austria occasional medium yes no
Belgium occasional easy yes no
Belarus occasional easy yes no
Bhutan common easy yes sometimes
Bolivia common medium yes yes
Brazil rare medium yes no
Bulgaria common medium yes no
Canada common easy varies no
Chile common medium yes no
Costa Rica occasional medium yes no
Croatia common easy yes no
Cuba common easy yes sometimes
Czech Republic common medium yes no
Denmark rare easy to medium yes no
Estonia common easy yes no
Finland rare medium yes no
France occasional medium yes no
Germany occasional easy /medium yes no
Greece rare medium yes no
Hong Kong almost non-existent very hard no no
Hungary common easy yes no
Iceland common medium yes no
India rare medium yes sometimes
Indonesia rare medium to hard yes often
Iran rare easy yes no
Ireland common medium yes no
Israel common medium yes no
Italy occasional hard yes no
Japan rare easy yes no
Jordan common easy yes no
Latvia common easy yes no
Lithuania common easy yes no
Luxembourg rare easy to hard yes no
Malaysia rare medium yes no
Mexico varies easy yes often
Mongolia rare hard yes often
Morocco rare medium yes sometimes
Myanmar (Burma) rare hard yes - illegal for foreigners no
Netherlands occasional medium-easy yes no
New Zealand varies medium yes no
Nigeria occasional easy yes yes
Norway rare, but common in north medium yes no
Philippines rare Medium yes no
Poland rare, but occasional in north-east medium/hard yes no
Portugal occasional medium yes no
Romania common medium yes yes
Russia common easy yes often
Serbia common medium yes no
Singapore almost non-existent very hard no no
Slovakia common medium yes no
Slovenia common easy yes no
South Africa common depends yes sometimes
South Korea rare easy yes no
Spain occasional hard yes no
Sweden occasional hard yes no
Switzerland occasional medium yes no
Taiwan rare easy yes no
Thailand occasional easy-medium yes sometimes
Turkey occasional easy varies sometimes
Ukraine common medium yes sometimes
United Kingdom rare medium yes no
USA common varies varies no
Country Popularity Ease Legal Payment expected
  • Hitchbase - database of places for hitchhikers
  • Hitchwiki - the free hitchhiking guide
  • Digihitch - hitchhiking, backpacking and budget travel on the road: stories, tips and advice
  • Hitch-hiking.org information all about hitchhiking

Simple English

Hitchhiking is a way that people can travel from one place to another. Usually, a hitchhiker (a person who hitchhikes) will stand at the side of a road and hold his or her thumb in the air. This is a sign that he or she wants a car to stop and pick him/her up. The distance traveled by hitchhiking can be anywhere from walking distance to across a continent. Hitchhiking is against the law in many areas (especially around a prison). It is not a good way to travel, as it can be very dangerous.

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