After living in Poland one month I decided that it’s time to explore it better and try something new here. Zapiekanka was already tasted, “Soplica” – drunken, krakowiak – danced. What else can show country, locals’ mentality and customs except of cuisine, folklore and sightseeing? Actually, there’re quite a lot of options. Cinematography? Yes. Art? Sure. Traditional celebrations? Yep. Hitchhiking? Undoubtedly.
Since it was still warm, sunny and pleasant breeze was blowing in sea direction, my following actions and decision go to Trojmiasto were obvious. However, some trifles should be mentioned. I had never hitchhiked alone before. And abroad as well. I hadn’t been to that side of Poland and, actually, hadn’t got a chance to travel in this country by my own. By the way, I knew just couple words in Polish. Should that stop me? Maybe. Did it? No. And that is a choice I will never regret about.
So, that beautiful day came, road was more or less planned, travel kit (check the list below) packed. I wrote “Torun” sign, tried to pull myself together (quite unsuccessfully to be honest) and went to the spot advised on hitchwiki. Aaaand… Obviously, first try started with the first surprise. For people, living in Lodz the word “renovation” became daily used one. Sometimes I have an impression that they specially started it everywhere to show how hard-working they are. So, when you are trying to go out of the city, get ready to be turned by constantly transforming road signs. Old way to the motorway was changed to that one which changed after last changing. Thus, I had no other option than to follow the road and my intuition. This time they brought me to the place which seemed to be right and from which my big trip started.
After 40 min of waiting finally one truck stopped. Remember that it’s dangerous to travel by them and you never know what driver can do. For example, in my case he was showing pictures from his wedding, telling how he missed his lovely wife and in the end found next car heading to my direction and waited till it will arrive. Second driver appeared to be even nicer.
That experience one more time approved that you never know before you try and encouraged me to hitchhike often and on the longer distances. During that trips some mistakes were made, stories created and methods improved, so it’s time to share gained knowledge.
Hitchhiker travel kit
- Road map (better laminated one). Navigator can be also really useful.
- Sign (might show as name of the road, as exact destination). Even I made 10 days trip without it, drivers usually recommend having it. You can ask for the carton in any shop, collect some or just glue a paper with new direction on one cardboard.
- Food and water – a lot (within reasonable limits). It’s better to take something which doesn’t require any preparation (not ham, cheese, bread separately, but already made sandwich) and is easy to be eaten on the way.
- Comfortable boots and clothes – be ready to walk a lot under the sun/rain/wind. I also take gloves.
- Backpack. It’s possible to hitchhike with the suitcase or travel handbag, but I’ll not recommend that.
- Good mood and positive attitude – not necessary, but extremely helpful
Some tips for beginners
- Plan your road in advance. Of course it’s not always possible and even needful (e.g., you don’t have to know all points in the beginning of a few days trip), but that’s always good to think couple steps in advance (e.g., check today spots for tomorrow morning).
- Start in the morning. Again, it’s not always possible, but preferable.
- Choose busier roads. Even your trip will be one hour longer if you’ll go by highway instead of county road, there’s much less possibility to stuck on the half-way
- Use hitchwiki.org. It has A LOT of useful information.
- Make sure that driver is heading in your direction. Some people are extremely nice and they stop without reading a sigh.
- Move “by long steps”. If you don’t know how this a few km ride can help, it’s better to wait for the next car.
- Check places around your destination. People can go to the small village which is just 5 km far from your goal.
- Choose spots where is REALLY comfortable to stop and stay before it. Yes, it’s possible to catch a car in the middle of the highway, but chance is smaller.
- If spot doesn’t work – walk further till you will find better one (sometimes it can take up to an hour).
- Watch drivers’ reaction. First, eye-contact may increase probability of catching a car, second, they will show if you’re not staying in the right side of a road (things happen :))
- It’s forbidden to hitchhike outside of the locality (incl. gates). And it’s up to you which conclusions to make
You can also find quite good and long list of tips on wikitravel .
BTW, hitchhiking is working method to learn the language. And meet great people. And have unforgettable trip. So, just do it!
P.S. If you want to hitchhike around Poland it can be useful to check following FB groups: Non-STOP w drodze (free blablacar. Pretty often drivers travel around all Europe. It’s better not just to check offers, but to write youe request) and Autostopowicze czyli MY (Need advice? Just ask!)