Hitchhiking is about more than just sticking your thumb out and waiting for a ride. I will teach you how to find the perfect hitchhiking spot so you will get picked up in no time!
Long distance traffic
To maximize your chance of getting a long distance ride, it’s better leave the city center and get out to the highway because most of the cars inside the city won’t be going very far. Take a local bus or walk to the entrance ramp of a large highway.
Going to the right destination
Try to select a road where a majority of the traffic is headed the same direction you are. I typically use Google Maps directions to show the quickest route and then hitchhike along that route. If there is a large highway that goes between two cities, get to the entrance ramp and hitchhike from there. Make a cardboard sign so cars know where you’re going!
Cars are going slow enough to stop
It’s difficult (and often illegal) to hitchhike from the side of the highway because cars can’t pull over at 80 mph. By the time they see you, they may have passed already. They won’t want to slam their brakes and risk causing an accident. For this reason, exit and entrance ramps are the best places to hitchhike from. You can also hitchhike from smaller, slower roads right before the highway. Sometimes there is a stoplight right before the entrance ramp where the cars are forced to slow down and stop.
Cars are stopped
Gas stations or rest areas alongside the highway can be a great place to hitchhike from. The key is to approach as many people as possible and ask if they are headed in the same direction. Try to be as friendly and polite as possible. Trucks can also be a great way to hitch a long distance ride. There is a stigma against truckers, but every one I’ve hitched with has been super polite and friendly. At the end of the day, you just have to approach people and talk.
Cars have enough room to pull over
This is so important and one of the most overlooked aspects for beginners. The driver needs to feel that they can safely pull over without putting themselves in danger. Try to make sure there is a wide shoulder. A bus stop right before the entrance to the highway is often a great place to hitchhike, for this reason.
Plenty of traffic
Sometimes a hitching spot is great on paper. It follows all of the guidelines above, but you get there and barely any cars come through. This can be hard to predict before you arrive, but once you see it, be prepared to leave for a different spot if it’s too slow. This is also a reason to get an early start to the day because you can get people leaving for long trips. And if it doesn’t work out, you still have time to find a new place.
The truth is, most of the above problems have been solved for you already using the collective power of the internet community. There is an amazing website called Hitchwiki that provides advice to hitchhikers about almost every major city. You search for the city you are interested in and it will tell you the best spot to hitch out of, depending on your destination.
Check out the video below!
Want to hear about more adventures? Check out my book about fighting professional MMA in Peru: The Cage: Escaping the American Dream.