Generally, hitchhiking is quite okay in Ukraine, one of the biggest countries in Europe, although areas like the Krim peninsula can be quite demanding during the hot summer.
|Language:||Ukrainian, Russian, Crimean|
|Population:||46,179,22 (2008 estimate)|
|Hitchability:||<rating country='ua' />|
|Meet fellow hitchhikers on Trustroots or BeWelcome|
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The biggest problem you could meet is that the majority of the people don't speak English or other foreign language. Though, if your Ukrainian is good enough, and you feel like it: just go for it! Most of people speak Russian too. Besides, if you speak any of Slavic languages, the connection will be much easier, they are quite similar. Especially Ukrainians understand Polish – it is the closest of Slavic languages excepting Belorussian and Russian. Generally Ukrainians are hospitable and open persons when you have no language barrier. They like to help foreigners besides.
When hitchhiking in Ukraine do not be surprised if you are occasionally asked for money from drivers. It is not often, however, but it occurs. Of course you can always tell the drivers that you don't have money and that you are hitchhiking. It could be easier for you to put some phrases to your conversations in a car which could let drivers know that you are hitchhiker. Truck-drivers always recognize hitchhikers – in that case Ukraine is not an exception.
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). It is allowed to hitchhike everywhere on the roadside, you just need to find the most lucky place.
Ukrainian style of hitching is not thumbing up but waving your hand towards the road. Hardly anyone uses a sign. Then again, it makes you stand out as a foreigner.
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 $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. It is also necessary to keep your money in a safe place or on credit cards, the same for mobile phones – shit happens everywhere in the world.
- How to Hitchhike Across Ukraine, story at glimpse.org
- Ukrainian hitchhiking community (Ukrainian), but you can ask questions and get replies in (English)
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