We stood on the side of the long dusty road, a puddle of sweat soaking into the back of our t-shirts. We had successfully hitched 141 kilometers that day, but it seemed our luck had run out.† The final stretch to the coastal town of Hopkins was the six mile dirt road that connected to the highway and we hadnít even made it a mile in.†Few cars passed and the ones that did sped right past our outstretched thumbs and kicked up a cloud of dust that enveloped us in dirt before settling.

tips for hitchhiking

{ The long, dusty road }

Hitchhiking as a backpacker has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of catching a ride.† Weíve found that while some locals jump at the chance to give a ride to a foreigner, others are more likely to pick up other locals, especially in smaller towns.

So as we sat in the sun, praying for a ride, a truck with an older couple approached quickly. I stuck my thumb out, stretching it high into the air and Jules waved his arms, and we both attempted our most desperate, downtrodden faces.

We held our breathe as they rolled by and let out a sigh of relief to see that they were slowing down to stop just a few meters ahead. We shimmied on our backpacks and crawled into the hot plastic truck bed. Then we kicked back, let the wind cool us off and didnít even mind the potholes that sent us bumping up and down. Our luck had returned.

tips for hitchhiking

†{ No better way to travel than in the back of a pickup truck }

When we finally made it to the hostel, we practically collapsed on our springy wooden bunk bed. We had successfully hitched every part of our journey from the border of Guatemala to the south of Belize.

Wait.. You did what??

Okay, hear me out. Yes, that may sound crazy, hitchhiking across the border of two impoverished developing countries, but, like most travel in Latin America, itís not as dangerous as you would think. Hitchhiking is a very common and popular method of transportation in Belize.

Itís hard to turn a corner in Belize without seeing someoneís thumb sticking out into the street. And whatís more, itís difficult to spend more than 10 minutes waiting without catching a ride with someone. Itís as ingrained in their daily lives as driving a car is in the western world.

tips for hitchhiking

{ Our cozy ride }

We managed to travel around Belize only paying for transportation once. Iíll admit Belize is a small country but thatís pretty amazing and definitely helps keep the spending down.

Here are some tips for hitchhiking in any country:


Donít just stick your thumb out for anyone:†

Jules and I are very picky about who we get a ride with. We prefer families, couples and other travelers. We skip cars with front tinted windows and groups of men. This will just depend on your comfort level. If youíre two women, maybe you will only catch a ride with other females or families.

Know where youíre going:

Do a bit of research. Try to print out a map or use the one in your guidebook to have a sense of where youíre going. We use the Google Maps app on the iPhone. If you load the maps back at the hostel before you leave, you can still use them on the road and the GPS lets you know where you are, even outside of WIFI zones.

Donít travel in the dark:

Everything is more dangerous at night. Estimate how long it should take you to get to your destination and then tack on an hour so you can be sure not to arrive in the dark.

tips for hitchhiking

{ That time we hitchhiked with an El Salvadorian gospel church }

Chat with your driver:

Hitchhiking is a great way to save money, but its also the perfect way to connect with locals. Locals that pick up other travelers are usually excited to learn about you and you travels, and sometime even to practice their English. Take this opportunity to learn about local culture, the best spots to visit and practice the local language as well.

Trust your gut:

If someone pulls over and offers you a ride, have a quick conversation with them before you get in. Ask them where theyíre headed and if they mind giving you a lift. Even with a short interaction you can get at least an idea of who this person is. If it doesnít feel right, just thank them and wait for someone else. Donít worry about offending them; better safe than sorry.