Instead of standing by the side of the road and praying to St Christopher, many smarter hitchhikers prefer to car share. There are several websites that make meeting potential drivers or passengers much easier. Read about Car Sharing in Spain.
There are reasons why hitchhiking isn't advisable in Spain:
- There is little culture of hitchhiking in Spain. The Spanish are not used to seeing people waving their thumbs at them at the side of the road and are unlikely to stop.
- Though English is spoken in touristy areas, the average Spanish person does not speak English and may be unwilling to pick you up for that reason.
- Unless you happen to encounter other tourists, the average Spanish person doesn't travel very far on a regular basis, usually just shuttling between a major town and their 'pueblo' (village) at weekends.
Update: Some Success!I recently managed to hitchhike a little in La Rioja, in the north. And my rides came along really quickly. So what was different this time to my experience in 2001?
- I speak Spanish now None of us in 2001 spoke Spanish. However, that doesn't explain why they didn't stop in the first place.
- I was on my own A single person doesn't look very threatening. Back in 2001 there were three of us.
- I was in the middle of nowhere I imagine people had a little sympathy for me.
- I wasn't going very far By just traveling to the next village, I was doing a journey that coincided with that of my rides. In 2001 we carried signs indicating we wanted to travel to distant cities, this time I just help my thumb out. So people perhaps stopped out of interest.
OK, but I still want to give hitchhiking in Spain a try - after all, it's cheaper than getting the bus or train, right?
Even if you feel like trying to hitchhike in Spain, don't let the idea that it seems cheaper influence you. I spent a fortune on my original trip as I would end up at an obscure, overpriced motel late at night with no pre-booked accommodation and paid through the nose for a bed. Travel through Spain is cheap and accommodation is much cheaper if you can book it in advance online - but you can only do this if you know where you are going to be!
Practical Advice on Hitchhiking in Spain
If I've still not put you off, here is some sensible advice on hitchhiking in Spain (or any country, for that matter).
- Girls shouldn't hitchhike alone. I don't need to go into why, do I?
- Approach people at gas stations This is especially useful in a country with no culture of hitchhiking. You give the person more of a chance to suss you out and you can turn on the charm a bit too!
- Take a look at the license plate Spanish license plates usually begin with a letter (or two letters) denoting which city it comes from. This can help you work out where the car is going.
- Pick a safe place to hitch from Don't stand on a blind corner and stand somewhere where a car has a chance to stop safely.
- Don't hitch in the dark Hitchhiking at night is dangerous. As the light starts to fail, cut your losses and give up for a night.
- Avoid putting your luggage in the trunk If you are traveling in a pair and you are forced to leave your luggage in the trunk, one of you should get out and remove the luggage while the other waits in the car - this reduces the risk of the car driving off with your luggage.
- Look smart Clean-shaven, relatively well dressed people (within reason - you are hitchhiking), will pick up more hitchers than those who are not.
- Take your sunglasses off If you can make eye contact, you look less intimidating.