advice for a first time hitcher around the UK please

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  • i'm neither experienced or seasoned, but i hitch-hiked round the isle of wight and it was wikkid so my only advice is go for it!

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

  • yeah well....you hear so many bad things about hitch-hiking but imho it's no more dangerous than crossing the street or smoking or drinking yourself unconscious on a friday night.

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

  • be as aware when accepting a lift as you would be about be invited into their house.


    Avoid falling into the trap of just jumping into a car without having a good look first just coz you've been waiting ages.


    Always try to be near a layby or long straight stretch so folk can pull over.


    Always keep your luggage on your lap so if you get out quick it goes with you.


    Max 2 people hitching together - by choice one of each gender; but better still go on your own.


    Smile lots.

  • cheers

    I am a very cautious person and allways make sure I'm ready to make a quick exit.

    I'm quite a smiler aswell.

    when discussing hitching before with friends they said they where allways really annoyed when really hippy looking vehicles like vw campers splitties and such like would just drive past and not stop to give them a lift when they had plenty of space.

  • yeah well....you hear so many bad things about hitch-hiking but imho it's no more dangerous than crossing the street or smoking or drinking yourself unconscious on a friday night.




    yeah I'd agree I'm probably safer in a strangers car than I am when I get so drunk I can't remember how I got home.

  • Eh up Dan.

    One simple thing you can do, is if someone stops and you get a funny feeling about them, make sure you ask where they're going before telling them where you're going. It gives you a few seconds for you to decide, yes or no to getting in this person's car. Then you can say that you're not going that way. Thank them anyway.

    Always be polite. Lots of people are understandably cautious of picking up hitchers and they're doing you a favour. If they stop for you, have the courtesy to make sure they'll think about stopping the next time they see a guy by the roadside with his thumb out.

    Be prepared to walk. So think about your footwear. Often it's better to walk for a bit to get a decent place to hitch, rather than just start anywhere then wait for hours.

    Oh yeah, sometimes it takes *hours* to get a lift. Don't ever go without a (non-alcoholic) drink on you. And some people unfortunately are shitbags who will spit at hitchers or find it funny to slow down as tho to give you a lift, then insult you as they speed off. This can be especially grating when you're tired and cold, and have been waiting for some time. And yet you will often meet the kindest, most unlikely people who will restore your faith in human nature.


    Be prepared for boredom. Maybe take a light sketchpad and pen or something else to fiddle with to bide the time. When standing by the roadside gets really boring you start to notice all the other things like the cold a lot more.


    And don't get off at the junction where the M4 meets the M5 if you can help it. It might look like your best option to get off but it's a flyover and not good for hitching. Get out at the previous or next junction.

  • When exactly did people stop hitching? I'm 45, and I used to hitch everywhere when I was young, from 14 to about 28. I always promised that when I got a car, I would always give lifts, but I was out of the country for a long time, and then when I was back, with a car, no-one was hitching.

    I mainly hitched in Britain, but also a bit in France, Spain and Iceland. I never had any violence. I had drivers slowing down to laugh at me and so on, and idiotically dangerous drivers, and people going off on obnoxious racist rants. A few men offered me money for sex. I think the worst thing was someone who pulled up on the hard shoulder and injected himself with heroin.

    The question's interesting, actually, because I went hitching in the Outer Hebrides earlier this year, with my 12-year-old son. The ferry was too expensive for cars, so we parked at the car and went over on foot for a few days. We got plenty of lifts, but had to walk quite a bit as well.

  • thanks adding your story.

    I know 2 girls who hitch if they have to , one comes from a traveller upbringing(still is technically a traveller) and the other is just a constant adventurer who has been all around the world (she now drives so doesn't need to hitch these days)

    I'd have my skateboard with me so hopefully I'd get picked up by skaters or find some interesting concrete structure in the middle of nowhere to skate on.

    I'd also have a video camera so i could document my journeys and make a youtube channel to encourage other to start hitching again.

    it's obviously wise to be cautious when hitching but I'd say people are mainly put off these days coz we have fear drummed into us from alot of angles these days.

  • I was a hitcher for 5 years,it was good then,travelling from here to southern England is almost 500 miles each way,usually travelled with a male pal ,less lonely that way,have hitched alone too,used to love going to the west country...that was 25 years ago but who,s to say you can,t do it nowadays?The far north of Scotland is an amazing place too,good luck,keep safe!T.C.:waves:

  • And don't get off at the junction where the M4 meets the M5 if you can help it. It might look like your best option to get off but it's a flyover and not good for hitching. Get out at the previous or next junction.


    Avoid getting off anywhere around Bristol, its mainly local traffic or motorway to motorway junctions



    The reason I stopped was one too many wankers - I hate people wanking while they drive

  • Hi vis motorway jacket (waterproof)
    Black marker pen
    Even better a piece of whiteboard and whiteboard markers
    A good map
    All the time in the world
    Good luck!

  • be selective with your lifts, expect a lot of walking/hanging around, and take care.
    and i *think* it's still illegal to hitch off a motorway or motorway slip road too.
    i used to hitch a lot in my late teens/early twenties and honestly never had a bad or scary experience.

  • Ditto all the above.


    There used to be a book called 'Hitch Hiking in Britain' or something similar, was pretty good, written by a bloke who had spent years hitching, thought I had a copy, but its awol...

  • Post by bikebodger ().

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  • Ditto all the above.


    There used to be a book called 'Hitch Hiking in Britain' or something similar, was pretty good, written by a bloke who had spent years hitching, thought I had a copy, but its awol...


    Don't know if it's the same thing, but would defo recommend a (preferably recent-ish version) of Hitchiker's Guide to Europe. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitch-hiker%27s_Guide_to_Europe

  • thanks everyone I have a high vis and hadn't considered that yet.
    I was going to put a sign on my back pack saying "reduce your carbon footprint pick up a hitcher"

  • I've always tended to face towards the traffic, that way they can see your smiling face, and you get time to see them coming. You get quite used to walking backwards after a while!


    :-)

  • I've always tended to face towards the traffic, that way they can see your smiling face, and you get time to see them coming. You get quite used to walking backwards after a while!


    :-)


    Yeah, I always used to do that. You want to be clearly seen, but I'm not sure about a high viz, I'd wonder why someone "official" was hitch hiking if it was me, and then if they weren't official, I'd wonder why they were wearing a high viz in the first place. I'd prolly think they were trying to intimidate me into stopping, which would have the reverse effect.

  • Yeah, I always used to do that. You want to be clearly seen, but I'm not sure about a high viz, I'd wonder why someone "official" was hitch hiking if it was me, and then if they weren't official, I'd wonder why they were wearing a high viz in the first place. I'd prolly think they were trying to intimidate me into stopping, which would have the reverse effect.


    I suggested the hi vis for night time. Its a lot nicer walking along unlit roads in one.


    The psychology goes both ways too. Many see hi vis as simply a worker or driver and are therefore sympathetic.

  • hi
    i hitched round the country once. good fun. i'm a bloke.
    avoid the m25 - there's three legal places you can stand on it (not counting services) which was the most depressing (in november sleet, a few hours at heathrow!)
    big B roads and small A roads worked really well. look at least a bit like the person they want to pick up and talk to if you want lots of lifts. don't take it personally when drivers respond badly, even veering to the other side (i quite liked that one "i AM that scary! AAAAARRRGGGGHHHHHHH"), though normally they just "don't see you". get to a good place (before a layby etc) and wait there - no point walking, it's not quicker and you lose the spot people will actually stop at.


    take simple food and water, juggling balls and a bright hat. if you get an offer to glasow when you're supposed to be going to nottingham - why not go for it!


    and of course remember that even though the media attacked hitch hiking in the 80's, in reality most of the crazy people own cars! it's fine though. being honest and direct, not fearful, got me out of any vaguely weird situations. the only two 50 year old wierdos who wanted a shag was one after the other - first a man then a woman. the only guy i was convinced was going to drive off with my pack (in NZ) instead offered me $20 cos i looked a bit broke.


    it's got to be the best way to let life do for you what is right - the "chance meetings" really carry themes - you only (nearly always!) get picked up by the people you'd want to pick you up anyway!


    bon voyage

  • I only hitched once, and that was in Tenerife and it scared the crap out of me! Mind you, I think that was more to do with the drivers inability to speak English and my inability to speak Spanish combined with the hole in the car floor that I could see the road through, the fact it was in the mountains with a vertical drop to our right and a sheer rock wall to our left, and also the 50mph he was doing around the hairpin bends :eek: :D :D

    Don't think that particular scenario is one you'll have to worry about in th UK though :p

  • i still hitch occasionally, but it has changed over the years, people are a lot more wary of picking up hitchers nowadays, in my youth i was bored at home in lancashire at about midday, by 8.30pm i was in france! i used to take a few old tacho cards which used to be accepted as someone in the trade wantin a lift home or even better trade plates, but i think people have got wise to that now. as people have said, be wary about who you get in with, i had a couple of 'iffy' experiences but simply made my excuses to be dropped off sooner rather than later. people will still stop but it seems to take longer now. i hitched to dover again last year and it took me about 18 hours, which was much longer than the first time!! hitching abroad seems much easier for some reason, i carried on and went through france, monte carlo, venice, rome, greece and right down through turkey n then to cyprus, never having to wait much more than an hour in any one place or country, EXCEPT

  • at calais, where it took 6 hours to get a lift!! i met some great people and had a lot of laughs along the way with the people giving me lifts, and i'd do it all again tomorow. so get yer thumb out n get out there!!

  • I used to hitch in the early 80s, never had any trouble. My brother found carrying a crash helmet helpful, some lifts on bikes.
    When I crossed the country in Nellie the Bedford Embassy 1999 (now owned by Stardust) we picked up several hitchers, all of whom said "I thought you'd stop" because its a hippy bus. Met some lovely people.:hippy:
    We have been out and about this year and didn't spot a single hitcher.

  • Hi'Viz!! Map, (sounds daft but its better than being lost. If you can find one with motorway service stations on it, even better.

    Cash. Mobile's up to you. I never ad one.....

    Stay safe, if you get a bad feeling from a lift, don't take it. Plan where you're going etc....

    Oh ye, do it in the better weather, winters a tough one.

    Good luck, and enjoy....

    "Going to Starbucks for coffee is like going to prison for sex. You know you're going to get it, but it's going to be rough."

  • All really good advice, I've hitched massive streches really quick and from allsorts of people, most important is marker pens or 5, you can find card around, it is illegal at motorway junctions, I find services or 24hr garages to be good places to be dropped/picked up. And the AA and RAC have been really good for a lift in the past, also van drivers/truckers are all worth asking if your at services, I found a little dancing helps when your in nowhere land keeps you warm too.
    Do it mate and enjoy it:D

  • I've never been hitching...YET.
    But I figured I'd give my input anyway :)
    If you're an extra cautious person let a friend or family member know you're hitching. When you notice a car slowing down quickly start to type the registration in a text message on on your phone and send it to your friend/family member then when you get out of the car simply text or call to update them on the fact you're safe.
    By the sounds of what other people have written here though, this shouldn't need to be done :p But still, just an idea for the overly cautious
    :)


    Peace & Love, Keith