Frequent Questions

 

How does hitchhiking work?

It is pretty easy. Just stand next to the road or on the onramp in the right direction. Take care that there is enough space to stop for the drivers. There is a list of good spots in the databases.

If you found a good spot hold up your thumb and look for eye contact to the by-passing drivers. For some more attention, you can use a cardboard with your destination written on it. Try to get dropped at a gas station and there, talk directly to the drivers.

 

How to approach drivers at the gas station?

Ok, ok. For the start, you have to be brave but you will come into the flow quiet fast. In the end you will say always something like: “Hello! Excuse me please, are you going in the direction behindthepineforest and do you have some space left in your car?”

Just be aware to ask in general. Don’t go too straight to the point and ask for a destination that is 800 km away. Ask for stops inbetween. A question for the motorway is constructive, too.

 

Do you just ask certain drivers?

In general, you can ask anybody to increase your chances. Additionally, you cannot see on the face of people, if they will take you or not. Most of you will be surprised how many business guys will take you with their fast cars. Even though, you will reach a point when you will recognize people and licence plates to ask selectively.

 

What do you need for hitchhiking?

A backpack with an isolation mattress and sleeping bag are useful. On this way, drivers will recognize you as an ordinary hitchhiker and not as a serial killer. Paper or cardboard for written destinations is also good. A torch and reflecting cloths are cool if you hitchhike in the dark. Some hot tea keeps you warm but also your driver maybe. Do not forget your personal ID and your drivers licence. Some drivers are happy to lean back and let you drive. A lightweight rain jacket makes sense as well.

 

Hitchhiking at traffic lights?

It seems to raise popularity but people have to get used to it. Ask the drivers directly at the traffic lights shortly before the motorway or on big overland roads. There will be just a short gesture needed to get the window down, but afterwards your destination and availability of space in the car is discussed pretty fast. It works well at the rightmost lane.

 

I’m younger than 18. Are there any problems if I hitchhike?

It can happen that police will control if you ran away from home. But it should be alright to tell the officer the phone number of a family member. They can call to make sure that everything is in order. Sometimes, it will take a little while. Don’t miss to ask the police, if they can take you a short distance of the journey.

 

Am I insured while hitchhiking?

In Germany, you will be always insured by the liability insurance of your driver. Drivers must have this type of insurance – so everybody has one.

But some drivers won’t take you because of insurance reasons. If there’s gonna be an accident you will have legal claims on the driver what his insurance company could use for his upgrade. Thus, the good will of the driver will lead to an economic disadvantage just because he took you while you were aggrieved.

Taking somebody is a courtesy. It is a quiet agreement of the hitchhiker that you don’t claim damages for personal suffering (at least with slight fault).

Some business car drivers won’t take you because of insurance reasons. After the upper thesis, this is not a reason. It has more of a tax-related origin: if the business car is used just for business purposes, the transportation of people is a private use – even if the driver goes for business purposes.

 

Is hitchhiking forbidden on the motorway?

Indeed. And whoever stood onto the motorway to get a lift won’t repeat it so fast. In the front of every onramp there is a sign to assign the beginning of the motorway. If you stand before that at a spot without holding up traffic, it is totally in order. But you should avoid the space behind this sign. This is forbidden.

 

Is hitchhiking dangerous?

More dangerous than what? It is not more dangerous than walking through the streets alone at night.

As a hitchhiker you will make some miles during the day. The drivers already have a destination which they want to reach. At gas stations or service areas, you can approach the drivers. That is fairly safe and you will have enough time to think if you want a ride or not.
Be careful with short distances that you want to ride during the night. Therefore, you should be absolutely aware about the driver. You can always say no again. The next car will be there soon.

 

I feel unsafe while hitchhiking. How can I protect myself?

Look at Basics and Safety.

 

How can I stop a car if the driver doesn’t want to leave me out?

That happens pretty rarely. In that case, be aware about your force and power: with the right words you can stop the driver even on the middle of the motorway. Do not wait too long and drop out early enough. Try to get to a gas station or service area. Look at Basics and Safety for further information.

 

Can I hitchhike at night?

There are hitchhikers who are just on the road at night. In countries with a well-organized infrastructure of gas stations, hitchhiking in the dark works pretty good. You just get from station to station. The drivers are happy to have a fellow passenger at night.

On the other hand, hitchhiking in the dark on an empty road is hard. Even with a torch and reflecting cloths, drivers have problems to recognize you. It works kind of ok, but in most cases you have to wait. And wait. And wait. In this case, it’s better to catch some sleep and to try it again early the next morning.

 

Where can I sleep?

Sometimes, if you hitchhike long distances, there won’t be any car at the gas station during night time. It is always good to carry a sleeping bag and an isolation mattress. The longer you hitchhike, the more experience you earn and you know what distances you can make at one day.

In bigger towns you will find a place to sleep through hospitality exchange services (HospEx like BeWelcome, Couchsurfing or Hospitality Club). You can also have a look for comping grounds. Trustroots is a HospEx platform specially intended for hitchhikersd since end of 2014.