Poland is one of the countries where hitchhiking is going well

From 1957 it was possible to buy lift booklets in Poland, containing small coupons that the lifter left behind with the drivers. The coupons stated the number of kilometers traveled by the hitchhiker, and the driver could send the coupon to the organizer’s office and participate in the prize draw. The driver with the highest mileage in a given year received a valuable award. The idea behind the Hitchhiking Action was to encourage drivers to take passengers, not to “bring air”.

Hitchhiking comes from the United States. This form of transportation began to gain popularity as early as 1925, and American Magazine wrote about the way to catch a cart “on the thumb.” During the Great Depression as well as World War II and fuel rationed, hitchhiking became the only mode of transportation some could afford.

In Europe, the idea of ​​​​elevators appeared only before World War II, and the greatest popularity of this means of transport is estimated in the 1960s, when many Hollywood productions promoted this form of transport.

In our country, the idea of ​​​​elevators was initiated by two students of the AGH University of Science and Technology – Tadeusz Sowa and Bogusław Laita. When they heard about this form of transport, they decided to do the same in Poland, but did not know how to stop the cars, so they changed clothes to attract the attention of drivers.

However, they were afraid of the militia, so they decided that instead of trying to hitch a ride against the law, they would report their idea to the services. After investigating the idea by the police, they got approval. It was they who initiated the Liftactie and the books mentioned at the beginning of the article.

In Poland, the 1972 film “A journey for one smile” contributed mainly to the growing popularity of “thumb riding”.

In an age of carpooling and cheap tickets you would think that hitchhiking will disappear. However, this is not the case – this form of travel continues to be popular, especially among young people, but not only there. The oldest known Polish hitchhiker is Teresa Banacewicz. She started thumbs at 62 and has been doing it for over 20 years in a row. She visited Morocco, Russia, China, Colombia, Scandinavia and many other places.

It turns out that Poland is one of the most popular hitchhiking countries in Europe. There are several reasons to choose this form of transport and, contrary to popular belief, it is not just counting on a free ride.

The journey “on the thumb” is still doing well in the 21st century / Pixabay – dalowswiat.pl

Of course, the financial issue also plays a role here. Hitchhiking is the only form of ride that requires no financial expenditure, so anyone can use it regardless of their wallet.

Another reason to choose hitchhiking as a means of transport is for adventure. For example, when planning a trip from Poland to France, you can’t count on one driver to take you directly to your destination. One driver can drop us 400 km and the other only 15. Therefore, hitchhikers often cannot say when they will reach their destination, because it depends on their luck or not.

When I spoke to hitchhikers going to Portugal, I heard that one girl managed to get from Warsaw to Lisbon in less than three days, while others were stuck in Spain for over a week and couldn’t get a lift.

In addition to the above example, there is another reason why some choose this form of transport: getting out of the comfort zone. Have no idea how long the journey will take, who you are traveling with or under what conditions, where the driver will drop off the traveler, if you can find accommodation or if you are somewhere in the parking lot near the highway and wait for the morning, it comes again, etc. The hitchhiker will undoubtedly gain strength and learn to be patient.

And one more reason – the desire to meet new people. Hitchhiking gives the opportunity to meet people from different countries and cultures and exchange experiences, and an additional advantage is the absence of boredom, both on the driver and passenger side.

Today, however, hitchhiking is a little different from how it worked several decades ago. In the past, the only way to grab a bargain was to hit the streets and put your thumb up, and this form has survived to this day, but today we have new ways to hitchhike too.

One of the advantages of modern technologies is the emergence of social networking sites. Hitchhikers have their groups there, in which both the ride seekers and the drivers advertise themselves. Ride-seekers just want to get somewhere, and especially professional drivers have fun in the form of conversations during many hours of driving. Suffice it to look at some of the groups to find that quite a few people are looking for rides, but also that no fewer people offer them.

In addition, a lot of help has been created for hitchhikers. One of the most interesting creations is hitchwiki (a combination of the English word hitchhiking – meaning hitchhiking with Wikipedia). The project aims to make life easier for people who move ‘on their thumb’. Hitchhikers mark places where there is a lot of traffic on the maps and it is easy to grab opportunities and places where it is very difficult to get out.

Sometimes he gets stuck in a remote area so it takes patience while waiting for an opportunity / PixabaySometimes you get stuck in a remote area so you need patience while waiting for an opportunity / Pixabay – FarWorld.pl

There is a common belief that hitchhiking is dangerous. Usually communicated orally, where “a friend heard from a friend …”.

In the time between the Great Depression and World War II in the United States (1933-39), the press started to publish a lot of information about hitchhikers, murderers, kidnappers, etc. This naturally had a negative effect on the idea of ​​​​elevators, because drivers started to get scared of taking strangers along by roadsides. In the end, it turned out that the articles were sponsored by car companies who were trying to curb the trip “on their thumbs” and encourage people to buy their own cars.

We live in a civilized world and it can be said with certainty that most people are friendly and not dangerous. Of course you have to be careful when you get into a stranger’s car, but hitchhiking in itself is not dangerous.

Hitchhikers provide advice on safe travel on their blogs and in their reports. One way is to take a photo of the license plate of the vehicle you are getting in so the driver can see it. Another is relying on the driver’s intuition and feeling before getting into the car. If someone seems suspicious, you better let go.

Hitchhiker’s blogs are full of similar advice. Polish elevator races organized by some universities prove that the devil is not so scary when painted. For example, 1000 couples participate in such races, and the race takes place from a city in Poland (often from Krakow and Pozna) to a city in another country (there were races to Naples, Amsterdam, Madrid, etc.). Whoever gets there first wins prizes.

After such races, there is a flood of submissions from hitchhikers on social networks describing their adventures with the race. In several years of observing the submissions, I have not heard the opinion that anyone felt threatened.

It is also worth adding that hitchhiking is still a common mode of transport in some countries, as public transport is poorly developed there. Among the countries where hitchhiking works fantastically, where people are used to “picking up their thumbs”, you should definitely visit Romania (and in general – the Balkans), Kazakhstan, Argentina and… Poland! Yes, yes, Poland is one of the countries where hitchhiking is really good.

However, you must be careful. There are countries where hitchhiking is considered a bad thing and drivers almost don’t want to take travelers. Polish travelers “on the thumb” unanimously name three countries in Europe where this form of travel is totally unpopular and it is very difficult to get a bargain – Spain, Italy and Greece. In hitchhiker jargon, these countries are “hitting black holes” that once you’ve fallen in, there’s (almost) no way out.

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