Hitchhiking: Safety Tips
Hitchhiking has a bad reputation. Horror stories abound about men and women who put themselves in danger by getting into cars with people they don’t know in order to get where they want to go. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Travelers can in fact hitchhike safely. Here are six tips that can help you remain safe while hitching a ride.
Ask for Rides in Public Places
To protect yourself, make sure you’re seeking rides in public places. Gas stations and public rest areas are safer places to hitchhike than the side of the road. This can protect you from potentially being injured, as you might be if you try to summon a ride from the side of the road.
Stay in Contact with Friends; Tell Them About Your Rides
It’s always a good idea to make notes about the maker, model, color and license number of the vehicles you’ll be traveling in. This is very good information to pass along to friends and family members you trust. Text the information to them when you get into the car and tell them as well about the spot you’ll leave the car in. Never drop out of contact completely.
If You Know Hitchhiking is a Possibility, Pack Lightly
It may be less intimidating for drivers who consider picking you up if you have a smaller bag with you than if you have multiple giant bags. Also, this lessens the possibility that you’ll lose your possessions or have them stolen. If you’d be devastated to lose an item, don’t pack it for this trip. It helps to remember that your bag is often the last piece into the car and the first piece out as well.
Size up Potential Rides Carefully
When a driver agrees to give you a ride or stops to talk with you, ask a few questions. Find a way to give yourself enough time to read them. If anything at all seems off, even the tiniest thing, or your potential driver seems agitated or overly pushy, refuse the ride. You have the right to choose a ride you’ll feel safest in. Before you get into the car, make sure it is clear just how far you plan to travel with this driver.
Check the Locks and Door Mechanisms
It’s important to know early on whether the locks work. You can test this by pretending that you accidentally hit the lock, then reopen the door. Also, you could act like you didn’t close the door fully and open the door as you put on your seatbelt, before the driver leaves the parking lot or the roadside.
Be Pleasant During the Ride
Establish ground rules with the driver early on. Find out whether they’re interested in conversation during the ride. If they are, feel free to converse. If they’re not, then respect that. It will help to avoid awkward situations. If individuals are interested in conversation, use the time to have a pleasant talk and try to learn something new. A good way to think of it is that you should leave the driver better than you found them.