|Population:||45,900,000 (2012 estimate)|
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Ukraine is one of the biggest countries in Europe. Hitchhiking works pretty well here, although areas like the Crimean peninsula can be quite challenging during the hot summer months. You can hitchhike anywhere along the roadside, even on real motorway like the Kyiv-Odessa road.
The biggest problem you could encounter is that few people speak English or other foreign languages. Some command of Russian (the Communist-era lingua franca and many Ukrainians' native language) or Ukrainian is advisable. Polish is also widely understood. When the language barrier is overcome, Ukrainians are generally hospitable and open people.
When hitchhiking in Ukraine, do not be surprised if you are occasionally asked for money from drivers. It is rare, but it does happen. It is useful to learn some phrases to let the driver know you are an international hitchhiker and travelling for free. However, like other European countries, truck drivers always recognize hitchhikers and know they are travelling for free.
The state of the roads are pretty dire in general, and the biggest problem is that the distances involved are usually pretty big (for example Lviv to Kyiv is around 550 km, 8 hours of driving). Getting an early start is essential.
In winter Ukraine can get very cold, for example in January 2006, it hit −35 °C, which makes hitchhiking very dangerous. The cost of train travel is very cheap – usually around one Euro for every 100 km (for overnight sleeping carriages), so bear that in mind when going from city to city. It might be hot in summer (up to +35 °C), so don't forget to take a hat with you to protect yourself from lots of sunbathing.
Of course you can get stuck easily on the motorway next to a turn-off from the main road because of nightfall. But there is also nice night-traffic of trucks caused by warm weather from May to September. Usually, there are some gas stations near to such places and there some favorite and famous places for stops known by drivers – something like unofficial rest-stations (there are no official but a lot of unofficial ones). You can easily find something to eat and to drink there and at almost all gas-stations there are night-shops. You can eat in some road-restaurants, they may be not expensive for foreigners from countries like the EU states – you can probably have some nice dinner there for US$7–10 (2008).
Crimes related to hitch-hiking are not common in Ukraine. But a hitchhiker should avoid cars with drunken drivers or passengers. When you are a single girl it's better to find truck or a car with family for your safety. Avoid night rides with “funny” drivers. Keep your money (carry a bank card instead of a lot of cash) and phone in a safe place.
- Hrebenne-Rava Ruska
- Ukrainian hitchhiking community (Russian), but you can ask questions and get replies in (English)
- Short video summary of the Ukrainian World Championship qualifiers in 2012
- Video footage of a hitchhiker's tour through Ukraine, giving an idea of the roads travellers will encounter there.
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