Hitchhiking across Western Europe is pretty safe compared to the other parts of the world, even for single women. However, there are still many negative connotations attached to this activity. Usually, you hear about hitchhiking in a not-so-positive way. Your parents or teachers will tell you about all the bad things that happen to hitchhikers and their inherent dangers. While their warnings are valid to some extent, you can still safely experience this incredible adventure when taking proper precautions.

Hitchhiking is a unique activity that teaches you so many wonderful things about the world and life in general. You meet some fantastic people, witness incredible sights, make new friends, eat varieties of foods, and immerse in new cultures. Whatever you experience, you can be sure that the memories you made and lessons learned in hitchhiking across Europe will stay with you for the rest of your life and make you a better person. The trick is to be smart and take proper precautions beforehand.

Travel with a companion
It could be a close friend or your romantic partner; take someone with you when going hitchhiking. Being alone makes you more vulnerable to dangers. When hitchhiking, one partner can sleep with abandon while the other converse with the driver or watches the road. This way, both can be well-rested when a destination comes up. So, invite your friend, pack your periods delay medicine, take your luggage, and get ready to have an adventure of a lifetime.

Pick your country or place to hitchhike carefully
As stated above, Europe is pretty safe for hitchhikers; however, Western Europe is comparatively safer than its Eastern counterpart. You can hike across England, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy with little problem. However, like the Slavic countries, Eastern European countries require some special skills to navigate properly. France, Italy, and Spain are especially very beautiful in summer and offer incredible views, as well as opportunities to experience the local culture. You can also take a trip through the Nordic countries and have an amazing experience doing so this summer.

Know your current and next destination
Absentmindedness is not just an undesirable train in hitchhikers; it can be positively dangerous. You must be mindful of your current location at all times. Carry a map with you if you must, and continue to mark areas as you see the landmarks or signboards. Nowadays, this task is even easier done with Google maps and various other applications. Additionally, it would help if you had a clear destination in mind before asking for a ride. Wandering aimlessly will lead you nowhere.
Additionally, be aware of the route you are taking. You can continue to observe your location as it changes on your map applications. This way, you will immediately become aware when your driver takes an unexpected detour without telling you.

Turn down a ride if you are weary
Do not hesitate nor feel guilty about telling a driver ‘no’. The myth about truckers often driving under the influence is not entirely without reason. If you feel the driver is drunk or suspicious, immediately ask to be left at the side of the road. An easy excuse to use is that you were looking for a hot female driver to be let off without suspicion. You can also claim that you were meant to go to some other route. Be smart when choosing your driver. While most people do not deserve outright suspicions, especially if they are stopping to pick up a stranger like yourself, being cautious never hurts anyone.

Do not part with things you do not wish to lose
When hitchhiking across Europe this summer, take special care of your essential documents. Always keep them tucked in and safe in a separate wallet kept underneath your clothes. In case something untoward happens, like luggage snatching, you will not be completely helpless in a foreign country. You should never lose your phone, money, or identification because it may become a security issue. When hitchhiking, you should also keep your luggage close by, like in your lap or at your feet. Even when the driver offers to put your luggage in the car boot, politely decline. This makes it easy to grab your luggage and hurry out of a car in an emergency.

Let the driver subtly know they are under surveillance
It never helps to be rude, especially to a stranger kindly offering you a seat in their ride. However, you can still make them aware that you have other people watching out for you. You can note the vehicle’s registration, model, make, and colour to text your friend in case of an emergency. You can also pretend to talk with your mum as you describe different details about the car. This subtly lets the driver know they are under surveillance. You can also just take a photo of the vehicle that clearly shows everything necessary and forward it to a friend or family.

Last word
Hitchhiking is only as dangerous as you believe it to be. Hollywood is a horrible guide to the real world, and taking a few hitchhiking horror movies as word of the gospel is not realistic. However, it does not mean you can just take off from home with no planning whatsoever. Hitchhiking is verily dangerous, but only for the ill-prepared.

E. Paul


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