There’s something very appealing about hitchhiking.
What’s not to love? It’s free, it’s spontaneous, you will see and experience incredible things and meet people from all walks of life.
It is a little reckless however, and while we love a little recklessness from time to time, its important that anyone who does want to try hitchhiking is prepared and as safe as possible.
We've talked to some regular female hitchhikers and taken a look at how to do it safely and stress free, so you can decide whether or not it's for you.
For those of you out there who decide they are curious about giving hitching a go, we’ve got you covered!
Ana Bakran is currently making her way from Zagreb to Bora Bora by hitchhiking only!
We put two questions to her; her best experience and her worst experience, have a skim through both and then decide for yourself, will it deter or determine you?!
“One of my best experiences was when I hitchhiked from Phnom Penh, Cambodia and got picked up by a grandmother, mother and daughter says Ana.
"Before they dropped me off, they stopped by in a bakery and handed me a full bag of pastries for the trip as a gift…"
they had just seen me giving food to a hungry woman and in return they would love to host me in their home for the night
“While I was waiting by the road for my next ride, I saw a woman digging through the garbage container and looking for food, so I gave her my bag of pastries."
"Two minutes later, a tuk-tuk with a driver and four small school children stopped by. The driver couldn’t speak a word of English, so he gestured to the children…"
“To my surprise, they were fluent in English and explained that the driver is their father who is collecting them from school and how they had just seen me giving food to a hungry woman and in return they would love to host me in their home for the night."
"Of course I said yes and the time spent with that family was really magical!"
Her worst experience is pretty terrifying and really shows the control you need to possess as a female hitchhiker, as well as th fact that as a hitchhiker you can potentially put yourself in some very dangerous situations.
“The worst one was probably when the guy driving unzipped his pants and wouldn't let me out of his car." says Ana.
It’s important to stay in control as much as you can when you find yourself in a dodgy situation.
"He didn’t speak English, so our communication was down to body language. I stayed calm in order not to freak him out, so he wouldn't panic and do anything stupid…"
“After he ignored all of my signs to stop the car, I took out my pepper spray and counted down five seconds with my other hand in front of his face. He started pulling over and finally stopped the car.
"If within five seconds he didn’t show any reaction, I would have pepper spray him to make him stop the car. It’s important to stay in control as much as you can when you find yourself in a dodgy situation."
There are some interesting arguments out there about hitchhiking, but whatever your personal opinion, many female travellers use it as a means of cheap travel.
If you are convinced that you want to give it a go, follow these steps to make sure you make yourself as safe, prepared and sensible as possible,
- Use your common sense. Don’t hitch when sleepy. You don’t want to fall asleep in a stranger’s car and you’ll want your energy levels up just in case you need to do a runner.
- Ask people at petrol stations for a lift. Therefore you are the one in control, and you have time to scope out the person before you ask them. Plus, if they say no, you have coffee on demand to ease the disappointment!
- Truck drivers are usually a good bet, they have to provide details of their whereabouts to their superiors, they have to pass checkpoints, and they have probably been driving for hours without company so they really just want someone to talk to!
- Have a charged mobile phone on you, with quick access to emergency numbers and useful contacts. Send a text message to someone you know with the licence plate number of the car on it. Tell the driver you’re doing it as a safety precaution, if they refuse, don’t get in the car.
- Be assertive, don’t be afraid to refuse a lift if you feel uncomfortable. Stay on safe subjects, avoid talking about anything too personal.
- 6.Keep your bag at your feet, if it’s too big, then at least keep all your travel documents on you, just in case.
- Trust your instinct; if you’re getting a bad vibe, get out of there. Make some excuse…you’re going to throw up; you need to use a washroom, etc…
- Carry pepper spray!
How do you feel about hitchhiking? Let us know!
If you are planning on hitchhiking yourself, follow our pointers, have fun and be safe out there!