Gregory Baranski

Trips :

How to hitchhike?

My history

I didn’t know anyone who is interested in hitchhiking, except this one guy Karol that I met on one of the Erasmus+ Youth Exchanges. He told me that he went to Portugal by plane and he came back all the way to Poland by hitchhiking, I was really intrigued by this.

I was actively looking for someone who could partner me in a hitchhiking trip, it was hard. A lot of my friends couldn’t do that because of parents limiting them - hitchhiking here has an opinion of something very dangerous.

On my final high school exams I met Krzysztof, he was taking care of students in a school dormitory. I remember him appreciating how small bag I had when compared to other people, this made me think and some day I just randomly asked him - Krzysztof, have you ever hitchhiked? My guesses were right, moment later I could immerse myself in a history about a hitchhiking trip to Turkey when he was my age. I got even more stoked when he shared his experiences from hitchhiking in Southeast Asia.

I received a lot of help from him, when I started looking for a backpack - he gave me suggestions and even composed a packing list :D. I can surely say that he had the biggest influence on me in this whole hitchhiking world, thanks Krzysiek :D. When I was leaving the dorm, I promised to him that I’ll get back to with a postcard from a hitchhiking trip this summer.

I pulled the magic thumb on a road for the first time in May 2023, I had to go to a train station from my family’s home. After hopping into a car I realized it’s my neighbor, we started talking and she asked where do you live - I was kind of confused, but then she realized we actually live next to each other.

June 2023, my plans for the summer are 3 weeks of volunteering work in Kraków and one week of Erasmus+ Youth Exchange next month in Turkey. I asked myself why do I still pay for 500$ each month for rent.

Started process of de-cluttering my life. Monitor, sofa, vacuum cleaner - everything sold in just a few days.

I read about One Bag Lifestyle and tried implementing all of this into my life, reading various Reddit post about tricks and life improvements.

After a few days I was fully ready to move all my belongings in a 40L backpack. I made a decision to do volunteering in Kraków and right after move to Warsaw, as it was only 150$ for room rent.

To prepare for my future journeys I thought I want to practice hitchhiking a little bit, so the routes between Warsaw and Krakow were achieved this way - and Ir really enjoyed that. I met so many interesting and open minded people, going 250km/h on a ring road in the newest Mercedes AMG, or getting a ride by Indian guy with a Belarusian girl after 4 hours of standing with a sign, where they instead of going „just for a ride around Warsaw”, they went 300km round trip to Kraków - Thank you guys, I was so close to a surrender, the fact you’ve stopped brought back my faith in hitchhiking.

In the middle of June I received an e-mail from some organization saying that I have been admitted to Erasmus+ 5-day Training Course in Turkey, close to Istanbul. They made a group chat and I have contacts with one girl and proposed an idea to maybe hitchhike together right after the project. To my surprise she agreed to go with a completely random guy on a hitchhiking adventure in the Middle East. And that’s how Hitchhiking The Middle East was born.

Your history

You already know how I started hitchhiking - now it’s time to make you hitchhike as well.

Step one - Choosing a bag

This is very important step, which took me a really long time to get all my things together.

First point is to get a backpack, you may see the first struggle of choosing the correct size.

Remember: the less you take, the more you’ll get in the form of experiences.

I can suggest going to trekking stores and outlets, trying different kinds of backpacks.

My requirements for a backpack were:

  • 40L, this is the perfect size, as it fits as cabin luggage in most airlines.
  • detachable frame, when the cabin luggage is not included in the ticket, I just compress it into the size of a personal item, and it easily goes through the gate.
  • 3 x attachable straps, in case I’d carry a tent, sleeping mat or just would like to extend the capacity.
  • front-loader rather than top-loader - it’s easier to pack and keep organized.

You can also buy second-hand backpacks, they’re fine.

I ended up buying Millet Hanang 40L in a local outlet, it has everything that I mention above. But feel free to buy something else that meets the requirements.

Millet Hanang 40L Backpack

Millet Hanang 40L Backpack

Step two - Packing yourself

I strongly recommend, it’s an excellent source of information on how to travel with just one bag.

The most important tips are:

  • Solid bar instead of a liquid gel. It includes both shampoos and soap bars. Takes much less space, weights less, won’t leak and is generally much cheaper. For that you’ll probably need a container, they’re cheap though.
  • Safety razor instead of disposable shaving razor. Way cheaper and doesn’t get clogged.
  • Capsule wardrobe, take T-Shirts that fit every pants you have. It’ll be way easier to dress up.
  • Socks only made of bamboo viscose - very breathable, not that expensive and generally available on the internet.
  • Comfortable and versatile shoes, for me the New Balance 530 are the best, I can use them in both smart casual dressing and sport activities.
  • For safety I can suggest taking a knife or pepper spray/gel with you. If you are travelling on a plane, then you can buy a knive at the country of destination.

Step three - Choosing the destination

Websites such as will definitely help you in determining if the destination is hitchhike-able. Countries like Greece or Sweden are known for bad hitchhiking experience, better not to go there as your first trip.

What places are hitchhike-able?

Very useful map of hitchhiking average waiting times in Europe

Keep weather and climate in mind, standing when it’s 10°C or less is not very pleasant.

Step four - Go

For sleeping I can recommend either a tent or a hammock(as long as it’s not raining) or Couchsurfing, which is a great way to meet new people, get a local guide and to sleep for free.

Offline maps are very useful, on iOS I use Organic Maps or Apple Maps.

If you don’t know language of the country, has phrasebooks for a lot of languages.

It’s easiest to hitchhike outside of big cities, to know how to get out of it, find a city on and you should find information there. Otherwise just put that on your Maps app, and try to go with buses as far as you can.

Don’t go for the quickest route, go for the route that’s most popular. If it’s a newly open road, it’s not the best idea to take it.

It’s a good lesson of patience, my record was that I had to wait 4 hours for some car to stop.

Other tips can be found on

### Step five - Share the stories!

If I managed to convince you to hitchhiking, or you have any questions, reach out to me :D.