Frequently Asked Questions
We've put together some general hitchhiking advice to help you out.
Use signs when you are trying to hitch from the side of the road. Make sure you have big, bold, dark lettering. Be polite and use the language of the country you are in;
Your hitch location is very important. Well lit public places where vehicles come to a stop or slow down are ideal, examples include: service stations, toll booths, petrol stations and roadside stops;
Vehicles must have enough time and space to see you and then to stop safely. Be aware of how fast the vehicles are travelling, the faster they are travelling the more time and space they need to stop. Vehicles drive on the right hand side of the road in Europe. Be aware of the direction vehicles are travelling in at all times;
Make eye contact with drivers as this is said to double your chances of getting picked up;
Always ask the driver where they are going before you get into the vehicle. If you are uncertain about your safety then do not accept the lift;
If you are uncertain about a vehicle or the vehicle occupants then do not get in the vehicle. If you are uncertain about your safety whilst in transit then request that the vehicle stops as soon as it is safe in order for you to exit the vehicle. Pretending to feel ill/sick may help;
Do not put your luggage in the boot of a vehicle, keep it with you at all times. Otherwise, the driver could drive off with your luggage as soon as you get out of the vehicle;
Know where you are at all times. Follow your route on a road map and make sure you are heading in the right direction;
Hitchhiking in cars is the most common means of transport during our hitchhike events and you'd be surprised at the generosity of the general public. Hitchhiking in small groups (ideally 2-3 people) is easiest. Groups of 4 people are only be able to get into a car with just a driver and a driver on their own is unlikely to pick up 4 strangers. Groups of 5 or more are unable to hitchhike in cars.
Lorries are a fantastic means of transport for any successful hitchhiker as they travel very long distances which means you don't waste time waiting around for another lift. Lorry cabs are generally well kitted out too making for a comfortable ride.
Most lorries are banned from the French road and motorway network:
July to Mid August: Every weekend from 07:00 on Saturday to 22:00 on Sunday.
Mid August to July: Every weekend from 22:00 on Saturday to 22:00 on Sunday.
All Year: Public holidays from 22:00 the night before until 22:00 on the day.
All Year (Paris): Mondays and the day following a public holiday from 06:00 to 10:00 and for lorries leaving the Paris area on Fridays and the day preceding a public holiday from 16:00.
Lorry access on to a ferry is via invoice only arranged with the company who owns / operates the Lorry. This access is for 1 driver and 1 passenger only. Any additional passengers must be paid for by the way of an invoice to the HGV owner / operator and this is likely to stop any lorry drivers from taking participants on to a ferry. Lorry drivers do have dedicated areas on board each ferry and if you are able to access these areas, at the discretion of the ferry staff, then they're great places to network with the lorry drivers and to ask them to take you off of the ferry.
Coaches have an official register detailing the names of all passengers on board. Generally speaking it is not possible for participants to board coaches and then to be taken on to a ferry. The only exception to this rule are the coach companies who operate a bus like service and participants could board these coaches, at the discretion of the coach drivers, to be taken on to a ferry.
It is illegal to get onto a train without a valid ticket. However, trains are often used during our hitchhike events. We advise participants to avoid busy trains where your presence on the train will prevent paying customers from getting a seat. Find the train manager or ticket inspector as soon as you get onto the train and explain your situation - if they're going to be fussy then it's best you get off at the next station rather than risking getting caught and fined.
Blagging a free flight is the ultimate hitchhike prize. The best advice is to go to quieter airports (avoid London Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester) and look at the departures board to see which flights are closing for check in shortly. Head straight to the check in desks for these flights and explain your situation. Airlines are unlikely to give you seats which has not been paid for but they are more likely to give you seats which have been paid for but where the passengers have not turned up.
Only the lucky few manage to get free flights but those that do tend to win hands down. We've had teams get to Sydney, Bangkok and Sharm el Sheikh, amongst many other destinations. If you do manage to blag a free flight then try to get a free return flight or ensure that you can afford a return flight - you don't want to get stuck somewhere and not be able to afford to come home!
If you head to an airport then be strict with yourself and set a deadline. If you've not managed to secure a flight by the deadline then cut your losses and head to a ferry port. The last thing you want to do is to get stuck at an airport and waste your chances of hitchhiking far away via other methods.
Ferry ports are the most common route out of the UK with Dover being the most popular. Vehicles are usually charged per vehicle, not per person, and so a vehicle with 2 people + 3 hitchhikers will cost the same as with just 2 people. Getting onto the ferry in a vehicle is pretty much the only way to go as its very rare for a ferry company to give you free entry as a foot passenger.
Once you're on the ferry network with as many people as you can. A good tip is to head to the truckers' lounge or cafe to blag your next lift.
The main ferry ports in the UK are shown below. A full map of routes out of the UK is shown further on in this information pack. You should consult the timetables for the ferries operating from each port before you travel there.
The Port of Dover is a secure area and you cannot get past the Port Travel Centre without a ticket. Under the Harbour Bye Laws it is illegal for anyone to, "enter or remain in the Docks unless he has lawful business therein" and so hitchhiking is not permitted anywhere within the Port.
Travel Centre: The Travel Centre is closed from 20:00 to 08:00 every day. Only minimal facilities are available via the Arrivals hall which is a temporary waiting area for paying customers - it is not meant to accommodate you or anyone else for prolonged periods of time.
Check In Desks: Do not approach the check in desks within the Travel Centre as the ferry operators will not offer free travel - you are simply wasting your time.
Foot Passengers: P&O permit paying customers to board their ferries as foot passengers. You cannot get free tickets from P&O and so can only get on to a ferry via a vehicle.
Vehicle Only Ferries: Sea France and DFDS operate vehicle only ferries - if you board a vehicle only ferry you MUST have transportation off of the ferry. There are no provisions for foot passengers to disembark.
Other useful ferry timetable websites include:
General Travel Advice
The information pack provided includes lots of useful travel advice.
Check the European weather forecast before you set off. You must take note of any weather warnings issued by the Met Office;
If you're planning on travelling out of the UK then please check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) travel advice on their website or call 0845 850 2829;
Use your common sense. Do not put yourself in any situation which could be viewed as being potentially dangerous. Do not compromise your safety in order to get to your destination quicker;
Have fun, smile, stay positive and be polite.
Hitchhiking in the UK and in most countries around the world is perfectly legal - in some countries it is even encouraged as an environmentally friendly mode of transport. It is however illegal hitch on motorways or motorway slip roads. Ensure drivers do not drop you off on motorways as you will be unable to hitch from there. You must not hitch in any countries where it is illegal to do so including but is not limited to: Slovakia, some parts of USA and some parts of Canada.
Your safety is extremely important to us. The information pack provided includes travel advice, rules and guidelines which must be adhered to through your challenge. Event Administrators will be monitoring the tracker to keep track of your location and to provide a point of contact where necessary.
Some element of risk will always be present in any activity and this risk must be accepted by all participants.
All of our hitchhiking events use our bespoke SMS Tracker system. You can send a simple SMS message from anywhere in the world, at your standard message rate, to update your blog and challenge tracking map. By sending messages in a specified format, our inbound messaging function can recognise the place and country of message origin, to perform a geocode and reverse geocode - to determine and then double check the message location.
If the challenge calls for it, we'll keep track of your furthest distance from home, and rank this against the rest of the tracker updates. Messages received after this instance, i.e. the journey home, will be saved and displayed, but not update the challenge tracking map or affect their total distance travelled.
Event Administrators monitor the tracker throughout the course of the hitchhike event. Messages sent to the tracker in an incorrect format can be amended by admins.
The standard format for messages is Town, Country, Message. It is important to maintain this format. #end or #home hash-tags should be inserted into the third (message) segment of the SMS.
Worldwide Travel Insurance is provided to every participant of our hitchhiking challenges. This insurance may not be suitable for you and so you are strongly advised to thoroughly read through the policy details and to take out extra cover where necessary.
Your insurance lasts for 7 days starting at 00:00:00 on the start date of your challenge and finishing at 23:59:59 6 days later. If you are still travelling after this time then you are no longer covered on this insurance policy and you should arrange extra cover at your own expense.
You must not travel to Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Israel - West Bank and Gaza Strip areas only, Pakistan (other than Punjab and Sind provinces) and Somalia as the worldwide travel insurance provided excludes travel to these places.
The standard Choose a Challenge policy is available for download: Worldwide Travel insurance.
When?22nd - 23rd February 2014
CharitiesBath Place Community Venture
TeamsMin 2, Max 5
ConstraintsYou must be at least 18 years old
International Hitch participants require:
- a valid passport;
- EHIC or equivalent health insurance; and
- a credit/debit card that functions abroad.