Traveling by hitchhiking is wonderful for many reasons, but it also has its downside. Waiting and waiting... So much that sometimes despair overcomes you. I know it is difficult but try to think the following: if you are not getting a ride is because maybe the "Big One" is about to come. Maybe that is supposed to happen, so you can meet a great person, someone who goes far... Or both at the same time!
Some people will give you a ride anyway, no matter if you wear dirty clothes and smell like a monkey; whether you are black, white, yellow or red; whether you are a sexy lady or a wrinkled old man... Others will need a little push from you. What can you do to gain their trust? Here are some tricks:
Strategic situation. Stay at speed bumps, traffic lights with long red times, at the exit of gas stations... In short, at places where they would have time to see you and think if they are going to give you a hand.
Like this bump near the Sonora/Arizona border
Ask directly at gas stations (although there are areas or countries where this is forbidden). Direct contact, talking to them and explaining your trip can convince some that you are not a serial killer after all.
This gas station in the state of Nayarit, Mexico, was our home for two long days. It was hard but in the end, we got a ride.
Look into people's eyes. This can move some of them... or make them feel guilty!
A friendly face and a positive attitude. Clown around, dance with your dog, do as if your dog is asking for a ride with his/her paw... Note: you can use your dog but do not overdo it! Do not let animal protection come! Anyway, good vibes always help.
Estephany picked us up for our positive attitude!
Cardboard or paper signs with the names of the places you want to visit. This helps a lot. You can also use messages such as your country of origin or messages like "Dog Traveler".
A ride to Seattle please!
This Dog Traveler sign joined us along the States, in places as cool as the Death Valley, California
Clothing. I do not like to admit it, but I think it does have an effect. I would say that it is best not to dress neither very ragged nor very elegant. If they see you in rags and dirty the odds that they stop will be scarce. On the other hand, if they see you, let’s say in suit and shoes, there is something wrong. I am pretty sure you will not have those clothes, though, so my tip is that you put your best clothes on for the road!
Just try to dress a little more decent than me!
Let your backpack visible so they can see you are a backpacker. In my opinion, it works because many people think backpackers and hikers are trustworthy. In addition, many people are or have been once travelers and know by first hand how it feels like to be on the road raising the thumb, so you surely convince more than one.
Ride through the fantastic Huasteca Potosina, Mexico
Put special emphasis on your attempt to get a ride when you see a hippie van, a pickup or other potential “savior”. In addition to being people who usually give rides you are making them see that you trust them, and this can make them "feel obligated" to match that trust (psychological strategies of persuasion!). My experience tells me that it does not work very well with motor-homes, though.
Pickups usually give you a hand
Take your camera and record (or make as if you are recording). They may think you are a photographer who is making a documentary and could feel encouraged to take you. And of course, no doubt you are not a homeless (I have nothing against homeless). I only do this when I have been on the road for hours as a last resort!