What nowadays is known as hitchhiking etiquette among hitchhikers all over the world, once were just some unwritten rules of hitchhiking, which over time became a code of conduct. Here are the most important etiquette rules for hitchhiking commonly agreed by hitchhikers worldwide.
- Greet all the drivers that You establish visual contact with. This practice potentially brings two benefits: the first benefit is for You as some drivers after noticing that You greeted them will decide to stop to give You a ride as they will see You as a respectful person, while the second benefit is for other hitchhikers coming in that area after You as greeting the drivers will improve their familiarity with hitchhikers.
- Be clean when hitchhiking. Being on the road is not an excuse to be dirty. Being clean and looking good is often associated with self-respect. If You don’t have respect for yourself, is likely that few other men and women will and in relation to hitchhiking this translates into not finding rides.
- Never accept money from your driver. Hitchhikers are not beggars and beggars are not accepted by the community of hitchhikers. Is okay to accept food or drinks if your driver offers.
- Never offer money to your driver as a symbol of gratitude. Hitchhiking is fueled by mutual kindness and help. Offering money to who gave You a ride because wanted to help You is offensive. If You want to show gratitude to your driver, then a good way to do it is to offer him/her lunch, dinner or simply a coffee.
- When arriving at a hitchhiking spot where there is already another hitchhiker standing, according to the hitchhiking etiquette is respectful to wait your turn until the other gets picked up before starting to hitchhike in the same spot, or hitchhike from another spot which is far away enough from the spot where the other hitchhiker is.
- Always treat staff at petrol stations with respect and do not cause any trouble, because your behavior will influence the way they will treat the rest of the hitchhikers that will come at that petrol station after You leave. Wherever You are, leave everything as You found it, never leave trash behind You and always treat with respect the people You meet and the customs of the places You visit.
Words are insufficient to emphasize enough the importance of this etiquette rule for hitchhiking – likely, is the most important of all.
What You are about to read is what happened to me once while hitchhiking.
I entered in a restaurant located near a petrol station with the purpose to buy something to eat. Immediately after I opened the door and stepped inside, I did not even had the time to put down my backpack that one of the people working in there said to me “Hey! Get out! Leave! Out!”. I did not understand why that person that I never met before treated me like that so I asked “What is going on? What is the problem?” to which the man replied “Leave now! Immediately!”. I did not insist and left.
I then returned to the petrol station to see maybe they had something that I could buy to eat. While I was looking at what they were selling, another man that before was inside the restaurant stepped inside the petrol station. I noticed that he was looking at me with the kind of smile like he felt sorry for what happened to me in the restaurant, so I went to him and asked him politely “Hello, I am a hitchhiker and I went to the restaurant to eat something – why did that person treated me like that?” to which he replied “I am sorry for You but few days before two other backpackers were here and besides behaving rude with everybody they also made some damage to the restaurant. That was the owner of the restaurant and he invited You to leave because he associated You with those two other backpackers as they were also having a backpack just like You do. He thought that You would also be rude and destroy his restaurant”. I replied “Please tell the owner that I do not know those people and I have nothing to do with them, but I understand him and I ask him to kindly accept my apologies in the name of those two backpackers”.
The hitchhiking etiquette, once just some unwritten rules of hitchhiking, nowadays is a true code of conduct that the community of hitchhikers invites everybody who intends to hitchhike to respect. Remember that as hitchhiker You represent not only yourself and the country in which You were born, but You represent also all the other hitchhikers around the world, and the way You behave in an area will have a consequence on the hitchhikers that will come to that area after You and on how the image of the hitchhikers will be perceived by the people living in that country. Hitchhike responsibly!
Written by Claudio Adrian Dobre; first in 2012, last updated in 2023. © 2012-2023
> Prepare for Hitchhiking (how to)
> How Appearance Affects Perceptions of One Another
> The Importance of Smiling in Communication
> Things to Bring When Hitchhiking & Backpacking
> Where to Sleep When Hitchhiking & Backpacking
> How to Successfully Hitchhike