Hitchhiking is one of the cheapest ways of traveling. It is defined as soliciting a ride by standing at the edge of a road, facing traffic, with one’s thumb extended/upwards. You can meet a lot of people and make lots of friends, but at the same time you can encounter danger on the way.
Today’s drivers are more fearful of picking up hitchhikers than in the past. People who do pick up hitchhikers tend to be very friendly. However, hitchhikers also risk being picked up by someone who is an unsafe driver or even personally dangerous.
Hitchhiking in itself is rarely illegal, but there are often rules about where you can do it (e.g. not on highways, near intersections, at bus stops), so read up on the rules first to avoid problems.
One of the commonly known barriers for traveling in France (as in any foreign country) is a language – you should learn some basic phrases before you go to France. It may also be helpful to write S.V.P. on your sign with a destination name – it is short for ”s’il vous plait” which is French for “please”.
Driving in trucks in France
On Sundays, only trucks with frozen goods are allowed to drive. Keep in mind though that trucks are not allowed to go more than 90 km/h and the driver must stop for a 45 min break every 4 1/2 hours, which can make the trip much longer.
Hitchhiking today is much easier with the help of different websites where hitchers book a place, or post notices saying where they want to go from and to. In return, all that’s expected is a modest contribution to petrol costs, or sometimes merely company. More importantly, drivers can be checked in advance via profiles or reviews from other hitchhikers – making this sort of travel much safer than it used to be.
Tips for hitchhikers
- Be prepared to walk all day. It is not easy and you need to think that it is more of a walking adventure with a chance of getting a ride more than anything else.
- Leave in the morning or early afternoon, depending on how far you plan on traveling, so that you don’t get stuck on the side of the autoroute at night.
- Don’t dress like a bum, but don’t dress so nicely that people question why you’re bothering to hitchhike.
- Buy a map of the area, so you can determine whether a ride will actually bring you closer to your destination.
- Make sure to carry enough food and drink if you’re going for a long trip. Gas stations are usually a bit expensive for replenishing these supplies.
- Remember, hitchhiking may be illegal in some areas or on certain types of roads. Enforcement of laws against hitchhiking may vary. Ask locals.
- Dress in layers because the weather in France changeable.
- Bring a black marker, a hat, a flashlight, a pocket knife, sunscreen, etc… It is best to be prepared and these items do not weigh much.