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The most common hitchhiker mistakes to avoid if you want to go as fast and efficient as possible:

  1. Not communicating clearly
    You want to go South and end up going East. Make sure where your driver goes before you are heading off...

  2. Overestimating your skills
    This is a quite nice one for experienced hitchhikers. Starting late in the evening or planning too long distances.

  3. Listening to the driver's suggestions
    Everybody does it in the beginning of their career. You are not quite sure about the place you want to be dropped and you listen to the suggestions of your driver (who often hitchhiked himself in the seventies). Never do, you are the hitchhiking expert and you know where to hitchhike. In 9 of the 10 cases you will have a couple of hours waiting time to regret the decision. ;-)

  4. Not getting out in time
    Applies only to highway hitchhiking. If your ride is only passing your destination and it's too far from the highway, make sure to get out 100-150 km before to catch a new ride into town.

  5. Losing items on route
    Hitchhiking requires going into and leaving vehicles, sometimes very quickly depending on the situation. It happens easily that you forget an object, for example the map that you use to study the best place to change cars, or to know where about you actually are. Don't unpack anything, and keep your stuff in your pockets & bags. When getting out of the car always look at the seat to make sure nothing fell out!

  6. Discussing controversial matters with drivers; losing control over conversation (e.g. Religion, Politics or Sex)
    Some drivers need to bring over extreme political opinions. This is not food for debate, you only need to hear it because for one you were to accept the ride from a stranger. Discussing those matters too fiercely has a negative impact of the joy of the conversation and the pleasure experienced during and after the ride. As ridiculous or extreme as his points of view may be, agree with the driver, and take it an exercise in diplomacy: laugh it off afterwards!

  7. Sticking to a Gas Station
    You're at a gas station on the highway and the next gas station on the highway is 122 km away. Don't be set upon finding a ride that takes you there. If you end up not getting a ride for more than 30 minutes you're probably better off at an on-ramp half way -- as long as there's enough daylight left. However, keep Mistake #3 in mind.

  8. Going one gas station too far
    Missing your exit or last station before your destination might cause getting off at first station after your destination. It is deadly situation, unless you find an Extremely Friendly Driver with a lot of Free Time (this creature is half-mythical, and may fall into the same category as unicorns, etc) who is happy to drive you back. You do not want to walk kilometres back along the motorway, even if this may seem tempting. Get a lift to the next off-ramp, walk across, and hitch back to where you came from.

  9. Two or more people hitch-hiking at truck stops
    Truckers are often happy to take hitchhikers. But in Western Europe and North America they're unlikely to pick up two hitchhikers, especially if their colleagues can see them. Avoid places with only trucks if you want a ride for 2. Also, it is illegal in some countries for truck drivers to take 2 people, as the truck cab only has 2 seat belts. If this happens to you your best shot is to look for trucks of one company, it's likely that they're driving together into one direction.

  10. Not turning down rides
    In several occasions it is good to turn down rides. The clearest example is that accepting short rides from good hitchhiking spots is not always a good decision. The right decision can only be made with a lot of experience, and making the right decisions is always easier on roads that you already know.

  11. Falling asleep; falling in love (with the driver) or starting a too interesting discussion
    These mistakes make you miss the best hitchhiking spots, because you are sleeping, because of the butterflies, or because the talking takes up all of your attention...

  12. Watching a movie while driving
    Many truck drivers nowadays have laptops and DVD players in their truck, and sometimes they even watch movies while driving. Of course you should kindly ask the driver to shut it down, but sometimes it happens that he just turns on a movie for you. Too bad, just before the climax of the movie you have to go out. Not good!

  13. Going with truckers in Germany
    Normal cars are likely to go very fast (over 200 km/h at times). Truckers may be good for an overnight haul to save you having to hitch-hike through the night, but in the daytime normal cars are a much faster option.

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