Asking for a ride is not as difficult as it seems, and it’s much more enriching than I could describe. I learned this by hitchhiking alone from Pelotas to Porto Alegre with an Uruguayan truck driver.
The story began when I decided to start travelling, and because I had no company, I went alone.
Travelling alone showed me that I could do anything. Anything at all, including hitchhiking on the side of the road.
And why hitchhike?
Since I learned to travel cheaply, this was one of the experiences I wanted to have. After all, while travelling we learn that there are more good people than bad in the world, and I was sure that hitchhiking would help me connect with different people and save money to travel more.
In my experience, I travelled by truck for 244 km, drank my mate and talked about life in Spanish with the kindest truck driver I had ever met. I followed all the tips in this text, and in my first attempt, I got a ride in five minutes and arrived safely at my destination.
Where to start?
And I never knew where to start; I couldn’t find the manual on hitchhike as a woman. My luck was meeting two wonderful women along the way who had already hitchhiked on the road and gave me valuable tips that made my first hitchhiking request a success. Today I come here as the crazy friend who has hitchhiked and wants to share all the tips with you.
- Be careful with your clothing – Being in a car with a stranger is a situation of extreme vulnerability. So, to avoid any misinterpretation or uncomfortable situations, it’s better to wear basic clothes, not too tight or showing too much skin, like pants and a blouse without a neckline;
- Ask for a ride near highway police stations: getting a ride involves risks for both the person asking and the person giving the ride. Positioning yourself near police stations conveys more security to the person giving the ride, since someone with bad intentions wouldn’t stay so close to the police. It has the effect of deterring those with bad intentions, because you were seen by the police, usually there are cameras nearby, and anything could be tracked;
- Gas stations are also good spots: talk to the attendants, they usually know the truck drivers and can indicate or help you get good rides;
- Don’t ask for rides at night: we need to trust, but the night makes everything more vulnerable. Can you imagine falling asleep in a stranger’s car? It’s really not recommended.
- Make short trips: don’t make very long trips, because if you’re uncomfortable, it will be more difficult to get out of the situation. Always ask for rides for shorter distances, up to 200 km at most.
- Make your sign: yes, it’s cliché, but making a sign with your destination makes it much easier for the person giving the ride. After all, imagine how annoying it would be to stop and ask where you’re going.
During the ride
- Listen to your intuition: our intuition is something we have to learn to understand and listen to. When asking for a ride, insecurity will always strike, after all, it’s a new and risky situation, but be alert for when you read things that may be real signs of danger. Listen to yourself.
- Write down and share the vehicle’s license plate with someone, it can also show that you’re doing it so the driver knows they can be tracked.
- Call or send an audio message, ask the driver’s name and talk to someone: dialogues like “hi mom, I’m sending this to you to put your mind at ease. I’m in such city, with such person heading to such place”. This shows that there are people aware of the situation and would notice if you went missing. Here it’s also worth sending photos and videos to someone or even to Instagram, show that you’re seen.
- Enjoy the ride, talk and make friends. This is a good opportunity to meet a new person and understand what led them to make this kind gesture for you.
(I even had some chimarrão with the truck driver who gave me the first ride)
But if you still feel insecure, no problem! There are other ways to hitchhike, such as looking for hitchhiking groups on Facebook or using apps like Blablacar. In these cases, the driver will probably ask to split the travel costs, but it still makes the trip cheaper and opens doors to meet many interesting people.
Traveling alone empowers us and shows that everything is possible. If you’re afraid, go anyway! If you follow your intuition and all the tips, everything can work out.