So you want to hitchhike through the Balkans? You don’t need to be an experienced hitchhiker to cross this beautiful part of South Eastern Europe. It easy to hitchhike in this part of the world and great to learn the tips and tricks of hitchhiking. The basics are easy, stick out your thumb and hope for someone to stop. It is as easy as that but there are a few things you should know before you start hitchhiking through the Balkans.
Try to learn a bit of German if you don’t already speak it. Most people in the Balkans speak either German or English. English because nowadays it is taught in school and German because many older people have worked in Germany, Switzerland or Austria. Especially many truck drivers have worked in these countries. Knowing a bit of German will make a lot of rides easier and more comfortable plus most people are very happy to tell you all about the region you’re driving through so you’ll have your own personal guide.
You don’t need the perfect place to find a ride. In the Balkans you rarely ever have to wait more than 10 minutes to hitch a ride even when you’re standing at an impossible stop. The people in the Balkan are very kind and helpful. A gas station is a good place to find a ride. But anywhere along a street where cars can stop is good.
3. Don’t make a sign
On a sign you could write the direction where you are headed. In my opinion a sign is distractive for drivers and they will not stop when they don’t go all the way there or go further. If you don’t have a sign people tend to stop easier and you never know where people offer to take you. It probably takes longer to actually make the sign than to get a ride.
Accept what people offer you. Often people treated us to have a coffee or a meal. People from the Balkans are very hospitable and will offer you something. Accept what they give you and don’t try to pay for it, it’s seen as rude I think. Just be happy and thankful for what they give you. Even if they offer you a place to sleep it is ok to accept it, might be a nice way to get to know the country a little better.
5. Dodgy people
If you don’t get a good feeling when someone stops, politely ask them where they are going and say that you are not going that direction or tell them something like that you are on the wrong side of the road. It’s easier than just ignoring them or walking off. Don’t feel forced into going with them because there will be plenty of cars stopping after. Even when you have been waiting for a long time if you don’t feel right about it just do not get in.
6. Crossing a border
It is alright to cross a border in a car or truck you are hitchhiking in. If you do not feel comfortable with it try to hitchhike to the nearest border town and cross the border by bus. After the border you can hitch another ride.
7. People’s fear
Some people don’t understand what you are doing. A lot of people have never been outside of their own country. Plus the last few years a lot of refugees have crossed the countries therefore the people can be wary. It could sometimes help to show your passport to let them know that you are a European citizen.
8. Don’t hitchhike alone
Especially when you’re a girl it’s not a good idea to hitchhike on your own. It’s not very dangerous but like anywhere in the world it’s not a good idea to hitchhike alone. It can also be very boring so better go with two people.Also don’t hitchhike with more than 2 people because it is hard to find a car that has place for three people. Most of the time truck drivers will take you, they usually only have 1 place in their truck. I sat on the bed a few times. Not very comfortable but it’ll do.
Make sure you take a small backpack. Not just in the Balkans but everywhere you hitchhike it’s easier with a small bag. Most people do not have a lot of space in their car or truck so it will be a very uncomfortable drive if you have to leave your backpack on your lap. By small I mean something around 30 liters.
10. Check number plates
In some countries in the Balkans cars have got number plates that indicate in which city the car is from. When you see a car with the license plate of the city you need to go just ask if you can join them. It’s an easy way to get out of a city because you don’t have to walk all the way to a highway.
Do you have anything to add to this list? Let me know!