Hitchhiking in winter can be more complex but with the right preparation one can secure the comfortability of winter traveling, too.
For more advanced , as well as for beginners, there are some essential rules to take care of:
- First and most important: Wear warm clothes and keep your feet warm and dry!
- Limited daylight: In winter, it is usually cold and dark for the most part of a day. For example, there is only 8 hours of sunlight per day in Western Europe on the third week of December, and it's already dark at 5 in the afternoon. If you don't want to find yourself hitchhiking at night (when temperatures drop even further), you have to choose your routes carefully.
- It's good to stick to highway gas stations where you can wait inside, e.g., next to the coffee machine, with a sign of your destination.
- If you know that you won't avoid thumbing on on-ramps, bring a torch to shine light on yourself and your sign. You should also try to stand someplace where there is a lot of light from the streetlights.
- Dry cold air is not as bad as a humid one.
- Some people prefer to dress in layers like an onion to keep themselves warm, and unpack when it is needed. However, some hitchers, for example, alex, prefer not to have lots of layers under the warm jacket as cars are mostly well heated (unless you are in Russia?), and for short rides it is more convenient to be dressed only in 2-3 really warm layers so that you could avoid the hassle of undressing million of layers and then dressing up again.
- Bear in mind that there is snow & ice: drivers might drive more slowly, but also there could be less space to stop than usually
Additional gear for winter
When hitchhiking in winter, temperatures can be very low. In case of longer waiting times, bad weather conditions and other things, please secure yourself with following gear (in addition to common essentials like described in this list):
Boots (keeping your feet warm and dry is extremely important):
- In addition to substantial (leather) boots, appropriate for winter conditions, you can also consider plastic boots and sorel insulated boots (e.g., "Sorel Bighorn", rated to -40 degrees) as possible options.
Base Layers (no cotton):
- Midweight or Expedition-weight thermal underwear top
- Midweight or Expedition-weight thermal underwear bottom
- Windproof and waterproof jacket, preferably with a hood (or any warm hat to protect your ears!)
- Midweight or Expedition-weight Insulated fleece gloves or mittens + waterproof overgloves or mittens
- Down sweater
- Hand warmers (e.g., "Grabber Mycoal" air-activated warmer)
- Insulated water-bottle blanket
- When hitchhiking a lot in the countryside or further from the cities and petrol stations, please consider getting a primus stove.
Traveling through different climate zones
It can be a problem when you travel from warm to cold zones or the other way around (and you like to travel light with little luggage), e.g., from South Iran to Turkey in winter. However, traveling from cold climate zone to a warm one seems to be less a problem as when you get to the warm zone you can just ship your winter stuff back home. Nevertheless, it does not have to be costly or implies heavy luggage to travel the other way around.