Where to hitchhike

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A good hitchhiking spot makes hitchhiking safer and easier. Finding a good spot might be tricky, and sometimes knowing the area is an advantage. If you know your route, you might check the best places on this wiki or from the internet, before heading to the road.

There are some generic hitchhiking places, like gas stations, bus stops etc. This page attempts to provide an understanding about where you should hitchhike.

See also the article on how to pick up hitchhikers.

Bus stop

Bus stops are in some cases the only place to hitchhike legally. This is the case when a driver drops you off in a crossection of a highway.

Pros

  • It is a safe place to stand.
  • It is a safe place for the drivers to stop.

Cons

  • The drivers might think you are waiting for a bus. You can avoid this by using a big sign.
  • In poorer countries those who stop might want money for the ride.

Gas stations

Gas stations are good places to ask for a ride, especially while hitchhiking along a highway.

Pros

  • Almost always a safe place.
  • Often marked on maps, and sometimes mentioned on sign posts well in advance, so more forward planning is possible.
  • People who stop there are likely to go very far.
    • Higher chance of meeting truck drivers, known for travelling the furthest distances.
  • You can and should ask for a ride from drivers.
    • Be friendly, and always say thanks and so on, even if the driver is going the right direction but doesn't want to take you. If you get annoyed because someone says no, the next person you ask will notice your annoyance and will be less eager to take you.
  • Thumbing is easy, as the cars drive slowly.
  • Possibly warm.
  • Sometimes a convenient (but often expensive) source of food, drink, maps and toilets.

Cons

  • You miss the cars passing the station.
  • Often difficult to access from city centres at the beginning of your journey, so can be bad starting points.

On ramps

On ramps to freeways and interstates are prime realty as long as the driver has room to pull over. A good spot to stand usually is beside the no pedestrians sign.

In many places in the United States, onramps are the ONLY legal option for places to thumb. This includes the entire state of Tennessee.

Toll Booths

In some countries the motorways or a part of them are toll roads, so the places where drivers stop to pay might be very good spots to get a ride, since all the traffic going your direction can see you. Other type of toll booths is only stopping the traffic joining/leaving the motorway on one particular exit, there the traffic will be much more weak.

Pros

  • All the through traffic on the motorway slows down and stops
  • In most cases there is a good visibility and many room to pull down

Cons

  • On roads with heavy traffic they are very huge and only the cars from the first lanes can see you (for example on the highways leaving Paris)
  • It might be forbidden for pedestrians (and consequently for hitchers). The way it is enforced (or not enforced) vary greatly though, depending on the country you're in, and even within the same country depending on the network you're on and your particular luck that day. Sometimes the motorway staff can call the police if they see you, other times police passes by and doesn't care.

Outside of town

Before or after a town is a good place to hitch. Usually where the speed limit changes or main area of businesses and housing ends.

Anywhere cars can pull over safely

  • huge parking spaces

Asking locals about good hitchhiking spots

Asking local people about the best spots to hitchhike from in the area is a great way to save time. They may even give you a lift themselves. Ask them about the generic hitchhiking places mentioned above, and ask them where they have seen any hitchhikers before. Although what they say is not always useful or even truthful, asking several locals and comparing their advice will give you a good impression of the layout of the area.

Leaving the vehicle

When leaving the vehicle, if you are planning to look for another ride immediately after, then make sure you are on or near a hitchhiking spot when you say goodbye to the driver. Try to choose the spot yourself by looking out of the vehicle window - despite their efforts to help, drivers are often very ignorant about what makes a useful hitchhiking spot and their advice can range from brilliant to terrible. Often it's not worth taking the risk.

It is easy to lose hours by making mistakes such as standing on the wrong road, or the wrong side of the road. Make sure you know which road you want to be on, and keep checking the road signs so that you know where you are on your map and where you will leave the vehicle. This is especially important when travelling across cities.