How to Hitchhike 1,141 Kilometers Through Two Foreign Countries

Hello from Ireland. I’m back home staying at my parents’ place for a few weeks, before I embark on my big round the world trip without flying.

As a warm up for that adventure, I decided to return from Spain last week via land and sea, opting to hitchhike the 1,141 kilometers from Burgos to Cherbourg. It was a crazy few days to say the least, but I’m glad I did it and feel like I earned a few serious travel stripes along the way.

Notes and highlights from the trip…

Shrugging off the naysayers

Before I left Burgos, I told a few folks that I was planning to hitchhike all the way to the North of France, despite having done very little hitchhiking in the past (a total of about 140 kilometers in more than 29 years of living). It was interesting to note their different reactions. Some people assured me that nobody picks up hitchhikers in Spain these days, and that I’d either find the task impossible or end up dead in a ditch somewhere. Others were confident that I could do it and offered nothing but best wishes and positivity.

As I walked to the outskirts of Burgos to catch my first ride, I thought about which of those mindsets would led to a happier and more fulfilled life. No contest, right?

I’ve also spoken to some people recently who say they never pick up hitchhikers, because it’s so dangerous. I agree that it can be, just as walking down the stairs can be dangerous. Hitchhiking used to be a lot more commonplace, and I think the only thing that’s changed in the last few decades is that people now believe the world to be a more dangerous place. Personally, I don’t think it is, but that we’ve all been conditioned to believe so by the media’s obsession with negative news stories, and our tendency to lap them up.

All kinds of people

I was amazed by all the different people who picked me up. I was sure that most of them would fall into a certain demographic, but that definitely wasn’t the case. Here’s a full list of everyone who pulled over for my strange self:

  • A stern looking middle-aged Romanian dude, with no English and much better Spanish than me, tunes from his homeland blasting on the stereo.
  • A cheery pastor from Ghana with his wife and two kids. All of them spoke three languages fluently.
  • A chilled out thirty-something couple from Vitoria named Jose and Karina, on their way to spend a few days at the beach.
  • An elderly French gent with no English or Spanish, who picked me up within two minutes of thumbing in Irún.
  • Two French surfers named Julian and Xavier, both in their mid twenties, who ended my longest wait of the week.
  • A lively twenty-year-old salesman from Bordeaux named Guillaume, who went out of his way to drop me into the heart of his city.
  • A bearded, fifty-something French weather scientist named Hubert, who warrants more than a sentence (see below).
  • Another surfer named Arnold, whose van was breaking down but still brought me a few miles along the road so I could find a better spot to hitch.
  • An angelic elderly French lady with no English and a little Spanish. She drove me for more than two hours, gifted me some fruit at a rest stop and dropped me right at a hostel in Nantes. She’d return an hour later when she found I’d left my jacket in the back seat of her car, dropping it off at the reception desk for me to collect.
  • A middle-aged French lady named Izabel, married with three teenage daughters, who already had two male hitchhikers on board when she stopped to pick me up outside of Nantes. She was my chauffeur for about three hours, even taking a long detour at one point to show me a great view of Mont Saint-Michel.
  • Laurent, a young welder from Saint-Lô who picked me up at a roundabout in the middle of nowhere and dropped me at a much better spot about 20k down the road.
  • And finally, there was Didier from Cherbourg, a thirty-something father of three who took me the final stretch to Cherbourg, chatting happily in English the whole way.

Twelve people, all helping out a stranger they had no obligation to help. You bet your ass I’m feeling inspired to pay all that kindness forward 🙂

“I can feel your soul”

I’d been in Hubert’s passenger seat for about twenty minutes when he uttered these words to me in a thick French accent. A minute earlier he’d asked if I was interested in energy, and since I’d learned he was some kind of weather scientist I assumed he was talking about renewable energy, wind power, going green, that sort of thing.

But no.

He was talking about divine energy, about spirits and vibrations and that big dude in the sky. He spent the next hour telling me about his rebirth eleven years ago, how God often sends him to converse with souls trapped in hell, and how all the world’s believers are due to be taken to a higher realm within the next decade. Before dropping me off a couple of miles outside of Niort, he gifted me a tiny stone that he claimed came from the tomb of Mary Magdelene and possessed magical powers. Then he took my hands and performed a transfer of positive energy right there on the roadside as his emergency lights blinked and the trucks zoomed past.

I wasn’t freaked out by Hubert. He seemed genuinely happy and in love with life, and I was interested to learn about his view of the world. Maybe he’s crazy, or maybe he’s tapped into something far beyond my comprehension. I don’t know.

But I did feel pretty jazzed after our time together. Perhaps it was that magic pebble in my pocket, or the positive energy he supposedly transferred to me. Or perhaps I was once again feeling that rush…

The Hitchhiker Rush

As you probably know, there are much easier ways to get from Spain to Ireland. I flew the reverse for something ridiculous like €40 back in May. And there are of course a whole bunch of nicely scheduled trains and buses that go that route.

Hitchhiking is slow, stressful and unreliable. You regularly find yourself standing on the side of some big ugly roads, far away from any footpaths, occasionally for hours at a time. For every person that stops to pick you up, hundreds drive by thinking you’re either a freak or a psycho.

The worst day of my trip was Tuesday. I got picked up outside of Irún within five minutes that morning, but later found myself having to walk almost 10k along the highway in the blazing sun, all my worldly possessions on my back. I had no map, no internet access, no idea where I’d find a good spot to hitch from. Just as hunger and thirst were beginning to catch up with me, I found a village that had shut down for the afternoon, and had to wait ninety more minutes for the shops to reopen so I could refuel. It was another three hours or so of hitching before I got picked up again, but later I found myself stuck at a rest stop and had to drop €85 for a night in the only hotel around.

All in all, I spent twelve hours on the road that day, but traveled only about 200 kilometers. I made it to Bordeaux the next afternoon, where I seriously considered bailing on the hitchhike idea and catching a train to Nantes, but knew I couldn’t let myself give up after just one bad day. And I’m glad I didn’t, because the next two days were an absolute rush. The sense of accomplishment and empowerment I felt upon reaching Cherbourg in time for my ferry… that’s something I’ve never come close to experiencing when stepping off a bus or a plane.

Hitchhiker for life?

All the above said, I don’t see myself hitchhiking everywhere from here on out. Given that I’m trying to run an online business here, it’s hardly smart to be spending several hours a day on the road when there are more reliable travel options available.

Plus, you just never know if you’ll make it to your destination before nightfall. Even though that rest stop hotel I stayed at was expensive, I was lucky it was there at all. I met another hitchhiker on my travels who had no choice but to sleep in a field alongside the highway the night before.

And then there’s the whole expense of it. I thought hitchhiking would be a pretty cheap way to travel, but that’s not always true. A few expenses that can creep up on you:

  • You have to figure out how to get in and out of cities, since you can’t just start thumbing down on Main Street. I consider myself to have been pretty lucky in this regard, as I only had to take trams to the outskirts of Bordeaux and Nantes.
  • Not knowing where or when you’ll arrive means you can’t book accommodation in advance. I didn’t even try to use Couchsurfing for this reason, and found myself paying much more for hotels than I would have liked.
  • Food can be costly, as you often have to buy it at gas stations and the like, and you also have no choice much of the time but to buy bottled water.
  • For me, spending hours on the roadside meant spending hours not working, which meant hours that I wasn’t able to earn money. I now find myself having to hustle to catch up on several projects and come through for my clients.

So no, you won’t find me hitchhiking all around the world, but I’m sure I’ll try it again in future.

Tips for first-time hitchhikers

I still consider myself very much a novice hitchhiker, but I did learn quite a few things on my trip through Spain and France. A few bits and pieces that should help out beginners…

1) Pick a good spot

Nothing is more important than finding a good spot to hitch from. If you can find a busy ramp leading up to a main road, with plenty of space for cars to pull in, you have a much better shot at getting picked up. If you’re trying to get out of a big city, usually it’s best to take local transport to the outskirts and hitch from there.

Before hitting the road every day, I would use Google Maps to find a good spot, checking satellite view for trees on the roadside where I could take refuge from the sun. Nothing worse than being stuck without shade for several hours.

Also, be careful with hitching on the highway. Not only is it harder for cars to pull over for you (and therefore less likely), but it’s also illegal in most countries. I was walking to get off the highway in Vitoria when la policia came along, none to happy with my presence there. Luckily I had enough Spanish to explain myself and they ended up pointing me in the direction of a good ramp where I got picked up pretty quick.

2) Have a good sign

Make it big and clear, and it can help to put two destinations on there, one being the next big city and the other your final stop. Cardboard is pretty easy to find, as you can just ask at any shop or business for an empty box and then fold that open and cut off the flaps. My last two days of hitching, I attached a long stick to the back of my sign with tape so I wouldn’t have to hold it open every time a car passed.

As for the lettering, it’s good to sketch out the words in pen or pencil first, then use a heavy black marker for the filling. Less likely to end up in Chenbourq that way.

3) Appear casual and friendly

The following from my buddy Benjamin, who has hitchhiked all around the United States:

I would point at people as they were driving up… real casual and friendly… kind of like, “Hey, your here… Great, now we can go.”

I never really got the hang of this, but given his success I’m convinced there’s something to it. Benjamin also advised me not to wear shades while hitchhiking, which I believe turned out to be pretty good advice.

4) Stand up

I came across a couple of other hitchhikers who would just sit down on the roadside with a sign out in front of them, reading a book or something. That always came across as pretty lazy to me, and I can’t imagine myself having much of an urge to pick up folks like that if I was driving past.

I liked to stand up and hold out my sign, pointing it towards the vehicles as they came closer, and holding it up high for trucks. I wanted to get across the message that I’d be fun to pick up and chat with, and I think that worked well for me several times.

5) Have internet on your phone

I didn’t have this, and methinks I suffered a bit because of it. Having access to Google Maps when you get dropped in the middle of nowhere should not be underestimated. It also comes in pretty handy when you reach a strange town and need to find a reasonably priced hotel or hostel.

6) Bring food with you

You should have enough with you to last a whole day, just in case you get stuck on the highway with no rest stop in sight. Now that doesn’t need to be much. For my vegan self, it usually meant a couple of apples and bananas, a tub of peanut butter, some cereal bars, and a tin of beans or olives. Plus a big bottle of water.

7) Don’t be afraid to say no

This was never an issue during my trip, but I would have turned down a ride from anyone who appeared really suspicious. Like if a driver is wearing a hockey mask and has a chainsaw in his backseat, probably best to say thanks but no thanks, even if papa was a hockey-loving lumberjack.

Just as nobody is obliged to pick you up, you’re not obliged to accept a ride from everyone who offers. Keep your wits about you and trust your gut.

Life lessons from hitchhiking

Let me end this post with some important lessons I feel can be learned from hitchhiking.

1) Acceptance

There’s plenty we can do to help ourselves succeed, to make ourselves happy, but at the same time there’s a whole lot of shit out there that’s beyond our control. We just have to accept the uncertainty and roll with the punches as best we can, make the most of whatever situation we find ourselves in. Being stuck without a lift for several hours that Tuesday kinda sucked, but I knew that getting angry or miserable about the situation wasn’t going to change anything. So I did my best to enjoy every moment. I sang aloud to myself, I listened to some podcasts, I savored the food that I had. Everything turned out okay in the end.

2) Rejection therapy

As mentioned earlier, the vast majority of people drive past you when you’re out there hitchhiking, most likely writing you off as some kind of fruitcake. This isn’t at all fun in the beginning, but after a while you stop caring about the split-second judgements of complete strangers. I’m convinced this carries over into other parts of your life. Case in point: since starting my hitchhiking adventure I no longer find myself so concerned about doing my daily exercise routine in plain sight of other people. There I was in Bordeaux doing chin ups in a kids playground as a bunch of burly French dudes played basketball a few dozen feet away.

(By the way: hat tip to Matt Ramos for introducing me to the term rejection therapy. You should definitely check out his site 30vanquish, he’s up to some cool stuff.)

3) People are fantastic

Although I was pretty confident that I could hitchhike all the way to the North of France, I’m still pretty amazed by all the generosity I received along the way. All those folks who pulled over to pick me up had little to gain from doing so. They could have just left me there on the side of the road and not felt one bit bad about it; they owed me absolutely nothing. I’m pretty humbled by their kindness, and inspired to pay it forward as much as I can.

Likewise, I owe a huge amount of gratitude to Uzuri and her family for hosting me in Donostia, and to @joncampo1 for hosting me in Irún. My last few days in Spain definitely left me with a positive impression of the place.

Hitchhiking and you

If you’ve had any hitchhiking adventures of your own, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. And for those of you who’ve never tried it, what’s the main turn off for you?

Leaving you with my last view of France on Friday. More pics from my trip can be seen over at the Disrupting the Rabblement Facebook page.

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    1. I did it in Quebec where it was amazingly easy 🙂 Best experiences count:

      – a Palestinian man who exclaimed “You’re French! I love French people!” and proceeded to stop at a Dunkin Donuts and buy a box of 15 donuts. My friend & I couldn’t finish it 🙂

      – a woman who drove 50km past her house to take her to our night rest.

      – a man who took us home, made us lunch, let us use his bathroom & then drove us to our destination

      – a couple who gave us 2 umbrellas & bottles of water a day of rain

      – a truck driver who took us at 7pm outside of Montreal and sang with us all the way to Toronto where we arrived at 2am. He gave us his bed while he slept on the seat, and we refused. His bed to him, the seats to us.

      – An old man who woke up his neighbor to make him open the closed camping site nearby, so that we could pitch our tent at 9pm.

      – A drug dealer who was ferrying boxes of stuff (we didn’t ask!) between Toronto & Montreal with his regular delivery service job…

      Amazing people all the way 🙂

      • Wow, amazing stories, Gaelle. Too many people focus on the tiny potential risk of hitchhiking while ignoring the huge potential for beautiful moments like those. Thanks so much for sharing.

        • I know. I suppose its all about context. In fairness, the risk occurence of picking up a psycho may be incredibly low … but the risk severity if it does happen is incredibly high… its like the idea of doing a a Bungee Jump… you know… most of the time it wont go wrong… but when it does… boy does it… or flying a plane… in fact… there are so many palces people take ridiculous risks and then in other spots of their lives they dont take any.. its wierd isnt it… I mean when you think aobut it, what is the difference in most likely the risk of getting into a plane, and picking up a hitch hiker… I suppose the real thing is the isolation is probably the fear… the idea of something happening while you are alone… anyone looking for a thesis for their psychology could look into this… why do people fear hitch hiknig and not other just as serious risky things…or even more risky things…?? I am to be honest.. not a hitchhiker picker upper… never was… always just drove by… I promised if I saw a hot blonde there I would stop and give her a lift, but that hasnt happened yet! I also have never hitch hiked… though I can see how it wuold be a real experience… fair play to you … especially going through France? How did you handle the French language?

          Also, just having my lunch here…does Orange Juice count as one of the five a day you think? (I know the five a day thing was more of a ruse by the WHO to get people to eat more fruit and vegetables… but still…)… it says freshly squeezed on the bottle….

        • Sorry this is slightly off topic here in this thread… but still thought I’d put it up here… it fits into your mantra of the need for lack of perfectionism in lanuage… granted he is talking about English… but still…

          saw this video, and thought of you trying to learn your grammar Niall. About the completely unneccessary importance of perfectionism in grammar… its very entertaining… again a Stephen Fry kinetic typography… I have to say I like him…

        • Thanks for the comments, Marc. Big fan of Stephen Fry myself. That chap makes so much sense.

          As for my French, I struggled with it, couldn’t really communicate much since it’s been more than a decade since I tried to speak it, but most of the folks who picked me up either had some English or Spanish so it wasn’t too bad. Very few uncomfortable silences. Actually, none that really stand out.

          And yeah, it’s definitely strange how we fear some things and not others. Did you watch that video I linked to above about falling down the stairs? That sums it up nicely. Pretty much everything is risky, but if we protect ourselves too much then we never really live at all.

    2. Beautiful stories! I will always remember and tell people this adventure of yours if they complain on how dangerous our world is, or if they insist that a country or town is too dangerous to visit on my own. And I´ll remember it myself, as there has been more than one time where I ended up not visiting that dangerous country or secluded beach cos I was scared to go on my own 🙂 I guess we always have to keep an eye on the occasional jason-the-chainsaw-massacre guy, but definitely not let fear play a main role and miss on possible beautiful adventures.

      OLE on your courage and perseverance!

      • Thanks so much, Uzu! There are definitely some dangerous people out there in the world, but living in fear is no way to respond. Just gotta live your best life and trust your gut. Bad things will happen to good people, but it’s the response to things that really determines your experience.

    3. I just had another incredible adventure to Prague a few weeks ago. It involved Neo-Nazis, nice Polish people, young kids saving me, 14 hours at a random gas station east of berlin and free breakfast and lunch.

      My second time hitching(1st time solo was a month before the czech one)

      read here:

      and here was my first time hitch-hiking a few weeks before the one posted above if you enjoyed that tale.

      read here:

    4. Haha, what a great post!! I hitchhiked in the U.S. from Colorado, through New Mexico, into Arizona and then back again. It took two days each way (4 days round-trip). A year or two later, I hitchhiked in Spain from Malaga to Madrid. The best is when a truck driver, who is going a long distance, picks you up …. I traveled HUGE distances in trucks!

      • Very cool, Paula. No trucks picked me up, so unfortunately I didn’t get to travel such huge distances in one go. I’ve heard that some truck companies forbid their drivers from picking up hitchhikers, but not sure how true that is.

    5. Niall, Glad you made it safely back to Ireland. Back in the 60’s, my older brother, then still in his teens, hitchhiked from Wisconsin, USA to Florida and back for the Spring Break experience. Got picked up on the beach there by the police and spent Easter Sunday in jail for not having enough money in his pocket. Didn’t stop future hitchhiking adventures, though. He also hitchhiked to Yellowstone National Park to work for the summer and on to the Pacific Northwest to work after high school. He loved it so much there that he ended up living there.

      My only experience was kind of scary. I hitchhiked from Aspen, CO to Denver one snowy night back in the 80’s and got picked up by someone who was high on drugs and drove like a crazy person on icy roads. God must have had a plan for my life, though, because I miraculously made it to my destination. Too bad I hadn’t read your tip “It’s OK to say no.”

      • That is pretty scary. I imagine it’s much harder to resist any ride that comes along when you’re standing out there in the snow at night. Glad nothing bad happened.

        And I love the sound of your brother’s adventures, though pretty shitty that he got thrown in jail.

        Thanks for sharing, Janine!

    6. Love this post. I hitched the entire western USA last summer, at age 51, and had an absolute blast. I can identify completely with your experiences. After so much negativity, doom and gloom, and fear peddling on the TV and Internet, it was a real eye opener on the road. The sun rose each day. the birds greeted me like a regular alarm clock each morning, except in the desert. I enjoyed the vast spaces and quiet. The people though were the best. They came from every background. Both sexes. All races. Agnostics, atheists, believers. They were the most beautiful people I have ever been privileged to meet. I am writing a book on the experiences of it. But that is an aside. I am waiting for a copy of my birth certificate so I can get my first passport and hopefully hit the road for a round the world adventure. The high of it is incredible. My mind finally began to grow quiet, and a stupid smile appeared on my face, as I just started going with the flow of it all. Just sitting here remembering again, and when I am writing another chapter of my book, it all comes back and I can’t help smiling inside and out.

      Some antidotes:

      Getting prayed over by a ride whose church happened to be next to my destination.

      Picked up by a young couple in a stolen car in the Utah desert and getting out through quick witted thinking.

      Treated to ice cream and a 100 mile ride by a young female nurse in Colorado.

      Gifted a warmer sleeping bag and a sleeping pad, plus 4 hours work and cash at a winery along the Oregon coast.

      Being driven right to the Pacific Ocean, and allowed to take off shoes and socks so I could walk into the ocean after 2 weeks crossing from east coast to west coast.

      And so many, many more. I never went without eating at least once a day. Slept soundly and safely in all environments, and never lacked for money, never asking for anything. And i always gave to others from what was so freely given me. And all I ever needed never failed to appear on time.

      You will enjoy that next adventure. Just go with it. Loved this post.

      • Wow, thanks so much for sharing all that Michael. What an epic adventure you had. I didn’t quite let go and feel my mind growing quiet, as I was trying to work as I traveled and stressed myself out about that more than I should have.

        Let me know when your book is done. I’m thinking I’d really enjoy reading that.


      • great! i understand you compeltely.
        i hitch hiked 11,000 miles in 2012. in 4 month 1 week. the most beautiful thing that God created is PEOPLE! .

        I love to meet new people.
        i will go to europe in 2013.

        God bless all of you!

    7. Wow Niall what an amazing post and what an amazing adventure. Reading about the generosity of the people who helped you out actually brought a tear to my eye (I’m soft I know!). The kindness of people is so heartwarming! Such an inspirational story.

    8. I love your “North (Ireland)” sign 😀

      I’ve also found myself hitchiking on this Eurotrip last week, in Poland. We had a trickier job, as we’re three with big backpacks, but it still went fairly well. However, I don’t think it’s my favourite way to travel precisely because of the reasons you mentioned – I think I can use my time better than standing at the side of the road. (And in my experience, the connections with people you get from being picked up as a hitch-hiker aren’t very deep or high quality – there just isn’t time for that.)

      • Absolutely, Vlad, and it’s even harder to make those connections when there’s a language barrier.

        Thanks for the comment. Hope you’re enjoying your trip (as if there’s any doubt 🙂

    9. Whenever I a driving and see people trying to hitch a ride, I really want to pick them up. Firstly, it is great to be in a position to lend a helping hand. Secondly, it can potentially lead to an interesting conversation. I always wonder about the stories of those who are on the sides of the road, their thumbs extended. Unfortunately, I pass them by and feel too disappointed to even look at the from the rear-view mirror. It truly saddens me that we live in a world where such an act of kindness can potentially put someone in a dangerous position. I am certain that most people are good, but it is that small percentage that keeps me from lending a hand. I am a woman, so it is a bit riskier for me (I mention my gender not as a admittance of weakness, but because we women are targeted much more often). How do you find a good balance between keeping safe and maintaining an adventurous, life-loving spirit?

      • Great question, Diana. Sharpened social skills help a lot, as does trusting your gut and speaking your mind, being assertive. As mentioned in the post, I would have refused to get in a vehicle if something seemed off, and I would have asked to get out if a driver had turned a little too crazy on me.

        But I can only give you a male perspective on this. Someone who could probably relate to your concerns much better and give you some great advice is Jodi Ettenberg of She’s a petite Canadian who’s traveled solo all over the world.

    10. Niall – you are quite good at this. If you sold all your stuff, put on an orange robe and moved to Tibet to become a Buddhist monk, would you have the same luck with a food bowl? And all your food was from complete strangers? and for a challenge – no sign, no internet and no food (to start with)?

      • Haha, I’ll try build up to that challenge. Not sure I’d get the same kick out of it as I did from the hitchhiking though.

        (BTW, liking the look of that blog of yours. Very nice design 🙂

    11. Hey, what an amazing experience that mus have been. Im leaving to do the same kind of journey, but all the way to lisbon portugal. is it important that you know how to speak a bit of the countrys language?

    12. Niall, I love this post !! I especially love the video you posted from Jash Fraser about snakes and staircases – it’s so true! So glad to see you overcoming so many obstacles and challenges. You are growing at exponential rates my friend 😉

    13. So I am about to embark in a life changing experience. I am planning to hitchhike from Mexico (border of Belize) to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina (It is pretty ambitious, I know) and since it will be my first time I’m extremely excited and extremely nervous about it. I been doing a bit of research on what to do and what not to do. I do not know how to go about country entries and exits and I was hoping I could get some advice. I speak 4 languages and have dual citizenship. I don’t really have much of a plan other than just to keep moving (pretty naive!!!). So if you have a comment that could help me out, or make this whole think more realistic and practical I would very much appreciate it. 😀

    14. Except from hitch hiking in my home country, Norway, I have been hitch hiking from Alicante to Morocco jan 2011 (800 km), from London to Edinburgh in june 2011 without money (500 km), from Oslo to Paris april 2012 (1.700 km), around Lithuania in 2012 (500 km), from Sweden to Italy and back to Denmark with my girlfriend in december 2012 (4.000 km). April 2014 I hitch hiked from West Germany to Serbia, and from there through all countries on the Balkan peninsula, most of the trip also going without money (3.000 km). June 2014 I went with a friend, from Northern Norway through Finland and the Baltic countries (2.500 km). In total 13.000 km, which resembles the straight-line distance from London to East Timor (a small country just northwest of Australia).

      The true wonder in these trips has been all the people opening up their homes and hearts – without them owing me nothing in advance, for which I am feeling eternally grateful and want to give back to adventureous people I meet on my way.

      When living a life without taking any risks, we risk to live a quite boring life.

    15. My boyfriend and I just hitchhiked across most of Canada. I love that all the things you figured out on your trip are the same things we did, especially that people are great!
      Our best stories are:
      The older guy who picked us up outside Cranbrook and when we told him we wanted to hang out in Kimberley for a night and were just going to wing it, he gave us his details and drove past his house just in case. In the end we felt he may want the company so we took up his offer, finding ourselves in his luxury guest suite and then he let us use his hot tub! Just a couple of weeks ago he emailed us a photo of us in the tub and asked how our travels have been.
      The other great one was John, who picked us up in Montreal just by the highway and said he was just going 15 mins over the water but it was still the right direction. we were headed to a festival in the countryside about 2 hours from the city. When we got near his turn off he said that if he had more money he would drive us there seeing as he was unemployed and bored. So we offered to pay his gas and despite this being his first ever hitchhiking pick up, he agreed! He drove us right to the festival entrance and then off he went back to the city!
      They are just 2 of the many wonderful people who helped us out on our trip, thank you everyone!

    16. Nice article! I came across it when I googled on hitchhiking in Spain. Did you have to wait long in Spain? So many people say it’s hard to hitchhike in Spain, but I plan on doing it very soon. I’m a solo female traveler, so that might help a little tho. I’ve hitched around 15.000km in Australia, but it’s quite common there compared to Spain.

    17. I really enjoyed reading about your hitch hiking adventure Niall. Iam 62 and have reguarly hitch~hiked since I was 16 ! The longest journey I ever hitched was over 5 days was from Aylmer,Quebec to Grimshaw, Alberta, ( Canada) about 23 different lifts. To many wonderful stories to share here (many blurred by the mists of time) except to mention wearing a kilt really helps. Just two weeks ago (July 2015) I hitched from Ballater Aberdeenshire Scotland, to Oxford about 500 miles, grey beard & all! (when darkness enveloped me about 30 miles from Oxford I sought peacefull sanctuary in a cemetery, where I pitched my tent ! the only concern being that Gloucestershire cemeteries do not have WiFi, so I couldn’t communicate my whereabouts to friends expecting me !)
      Happy hitching !…..Quentin, Beeman on Nevis, West Indies.

    18. Nobody picks up hitchhikers in Spain except tourists and drivers from other countries. Sitting here in Cordoba tight now after wasting 10 hours trying various spots from hitchwiki, each time with locals coming by to tell me that that road won’t work. I’ve hitchhiked 7000 km in my life and only run into worse situations in Hungary. Some places aren’t hitch able to certain days of the week or except very narrow times of day. This happens in developing countries like Peru abd Bolivia a lot where roads or bridges will close and trucks have to wait. In Spain, because of meal times and a disdain for those not using paying car services it is extremely difficult unless you are at a giant gas station far outside a city (where you’ll meet foreign cars like the Danes who got me from madrid to cordoba) or in a small town. Same in Hungary. And yes, I always look clean, have a simple 36L bag and good signs. I’m a girl. So telling people it works if you’re presentable and have a good sign isn’t true: it works if you’re on a route frequented by people going to your destination at the right moment. And sometimes people simply don’t go to City A from City B and you have to take a train or bus. Some cultures have different ideas about what is and isn’t legal. But if someone really wants to pick you up, they’ll stop, even at a bad spot.