¡viva autostop! or hitchhiking manual for the covid pandemia and beyond

Covid pandemic restricted many spheres of our lives and brought major changes in the way we travel. While some of us remained home, others were hopping from one open state to another, sometimes getting stuck for months waiting for open borders. Hitchhiking might seem to be an obvious victim of the recent developments. Before going my usual way from Prague to Slovenia this year I was bothered with the idea that drivers would be afraid to take hitchhikers because they might be sick or  without “passports of possibilities”. Surprisingly, this was not proved. On the contrary – drivers on my way were even more welcoming than ever. Later trip from Lithuania to Poland proved the same. Nobody asked for vaccination, covid pass or if I ever was infected. All this appear to be an individual responsibility – in case of any problem the driver will just drop you off on the borders, as one Polish guy told me on the way to Ljubljana. Average time at the spot was around 10 minutes (with one exception). Tiredness of being restricted in travelling and communication obviously won over the fear of bringing a stranger to a car. The simple conclusion is – drivers are open and helpful as they were before the pandemic. And hitchhiking is one of the best ways to conquer the idea that people around us are angry bastards hating each other. On the contrary, they are actually kind and fun, they love to listen to crazy stories and share their most intimate experiences. Solidarity is and will remain the major force for our society and individuals to move forwards.

Hitchhiking in Albania

This blog post’s goal was supposed to be to share the experience of hitchhiking during the covid pandemic with those who prefer this way of traveling over all the other means (as I do). However, there appeared to be not so much to share – my experience proves that it goes as fast and exciting as usual. Therefore, here are some general tips for those who never tried. Or tried and failed. Or waited for ten hours in the middle of nowhere.

  1. Do not just wait with a raised thumb by the road, ask people at the gas stations. Before setting out on a journey, choose your first spot carefully – it should be a gas station on the highway, preferably with McDonalds or a small shop (not the one from the Lost Highway). Usually, you can find this spot near almost every city. If you are not sure – check hitchwiki. Hitchwiki can also help when there is no such spot. At the spot, don’t be afraid to talk, go to the drivers, ask where they are going, explain what you want. This works much better than the raised thumbs or cardboards.
  2. Try to move from one spot to another only using the gas stations in your direction. Do not enter the cities – they are dead spots. It is better to go a smaller distance and to ask a driver to let you off on a good strategic spot than to go a longer distance and to stay in the city or in the middle of the field. You can easily find the strategic gas stations on the way on the https://maps.me/. When you mark them, they will stay on the map for your next trip. Pay attention that this map does not show whether the station is big or small. But anyway, maps.me is the most efficient map for hitchhikers.
  3. Do not listen to a driver. In many cases, drivers will try to advise you. That is nice, but keep in mind that they know how to drive, not how to hitchhike. Usually they think that the longer the way they take you, the better it is, but you already know that you must follow the strategic spots, not long distances. Explain that you know where you go and try to persuade a driver to bring you to the spot that you selected.
  4. How to persuade a driver to bring you where you want? Be kind and interesting and most probably s/he will help you. Remember – hitchhiking is not a taxi. People take hitchhikers because they want to listen to your stories and “shorten” their way by doing so. So, be an interesting storyteller and sit in a car in a good mood 🙂