10 Things to Pack for Your Hitchhiking Trip

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What things should I pack for my hitchhiking journey? This question baffles every hitchhiker who is setting out for the first time on his journey.

Hitchhiking is the art of traveling on a tight budget and demands every moment that you adapt to challenges that the road has to throw at you. So, you always need to be flexible in your journey, and that should also reflect the way you pack your backpack.

If you have hitchhiked before, you know how exhausting it is to narrow down your list to bare essential items. Sometimes you are tempted to pack things you think you need but later regret your decision to do so.

From how to pack your backpack to the things to pack for your hitchhiking trip, this blog will answer all the things that you need for an amazing hitchhiking experience.

So, let’s dive right in.

Here are 10 Things to Pack for Your Hitchhiking Trip 

Your backpack

Your backpack - Things to pack for your hitchhiking journey

Before we begin to explore the ‘what and why’ of packing for hitchhiking let’s first talk about the most important part of your hitchhiking journey- your backpack.

I cannot stress enough how important choosing a good backpack for your hitchhiking journey is? A backpack can make all the difference between a memorable hitchhiking experience to a miserable one.

Your backpack is going to be your constant companion and home to all your stuff throughout your journey. So, it makes sense that you invest in the best backpack that is lightweight, comfortable, durable and sturdy enough to take anything that nature throws at it.

How much should my backpack weigh for my hitchhiking trip?

On average, the optimal weight of your backpack should be 10% to 15% of your body weight i. e in the range of 10-15kg. Anything above that can put a considerable strain on your body.

Clothing 

When it comes to clothing, pack light and tight. Hitchhiking involves a lot of walking on the road. Most of the time you will find yourself drenched with sweat. So, it makes sense to wear light clothes like T-shirts made of polyester or polypropylene and trousers with ample pockets to carry essential things.

Make sure you wear breathable and clothes as they do not absorb heat as the dark ones do. Avoid carrying too light-coloured clothes as you want yourself to be easily noticed when hitching a ride. 

 Below is a list of clothing items that I carry:

ItemsQtyRemarks
T- Shirts5It is always better to carry a few extra T-shirts with you as you don’t know when will you get the time to wash your T-shirts
Trousers3A trouser with ample side pockets for keeping things that you need quick access to.

Summer-season: Go for breathable, lightweight, UV proof shorts or full-length trousers.

Winter-season: Hitching in the winters can be difficult. Go for trousers with insulated inner cloth, water-proof or water-resistant trousers to avoid the chilling weather.
Socks4 pairsAlways carry few extra pair of socks. Buy socks made from a synthetic material that dries up quickly.
Avoid cotton socks at all cost.
Undergarments4 pairsCarry an extra pair just in case you don’t get the time to wash your clothes.

If you are going to hitchhike during winter, carry woollen undergarments.
Shorts1Something that you can comfortably sleep in and also use as swim wear.
Hat/Cap1 To protect yourself from dehydration due to scorching heat
A list of clothes that we pack for our hitchhiking journey

Footwear

Shoes

This is the most important thing after your backpack. Hitchhiking involves walking for long hours on the road and sitting in the back of the trucks. So, you must keep your feet safe from injuries and allergies.

Hiking boots are a good option for hitchhiking. As hitchhiking involves experiencing similar conditions to hiking, they are sturdy and last longer than other shoes. If the country you are hitching has a good amount of asphalt roads, sneakers will do the job.

Unless you are going to hitchhike a country at a time when the climate is extremely cold don’t go for winter shoes at any cost. In any case, you should avoid hitchhiking in such extreme weather but if you do, make sure you carry the right gear which is suitable for your journey.

Flip Flops/ Sandals

These are best for casual outings once you find a place to stay. Walking in hiking boots for a long time puts a lot of strain on your knees, toes and ankles. Flip flops or sandals will make it comfortable to walk around without aching your legs.

Navigation

Don’t bring a compass. Your smartphone is enough to do the job but make sure you carry a physical map of the region you want to hitchhike.

Why should I carry a physical map of my destination with me?

Having a physical map makes it easy to lay out your plans and mark the locations you want to visit. No doubt, your smartphone does this job but having a map comes in handy if you drain your battery or lose your phone.

Toiletries

We all know how important it is to take care of your hygiene when travelling. Especially the outbreak of COVID-19 has overly emphasized the importance of maintaining proper hygiene.

The list of toiletries we carry on our journey:

  • 1 toothbrush
  • 1 tube of toothpaste
  • 1 package of dental floss
  • Deodorant
  • 1 razor
  • 1 small bottle of shampoo
  • 1 small bottle of shower gel
  • 1 towel (always pack a towel!)
  • Hand sanitiser (Don’t leave your home without this)
  • Toilet paper( Highly recommend)
  • Baby wipes (Useful than you think) 

Note: In the wake of the ongoing Pandemic, if you decide to hitchhike, make sure you follow all the hygiene protocols that are prescribed by the WHO.

Gadgets

Gadgets

It is impossible to get around without gadgets in a world that has become so tech-savvy in recent years. As a travel enthusiast, you would want to carry the best camera gear and other gadgets as much as you can.

If you are thinking along this line, then hitchhiking may not be your cup of tea. Your gadgets add a lot of weight to your already bulked up backpack. So, you must narrow down your list of gadgets to the bare minimum.

Here is a list of gadgets that we carry with us:

ItemsQtyRemarks
Camera+ Gear1As a travel blogger and vlogger, we always carry a DSLR along with us to get the best shots. If you are not into travel photography, we recommend you not to carry a professional camera as it adds some weight and takes some effort to maintain. A good smartphone is enough to do this job.
Kindle1For the joy of reading while travelling. Travel reading is a different experience altogether. I would highly recommend a Kindle as it saves a lot of space and is easy to use.

If you are not into reading, then carry no more than two books with you.
Travel adapters2These are lifesavers.
Portable charger1For keeping your gadgets charged on the go.
Flashlight/ Torch1Your smartphone can be used as one but it is not bright enough. Better carry one for hiking in the night or use as a light when camping.
A list of gadgets we carry on our hitchhiking trips

Camping Gear

Camping tent

Camping tent

Honestly, I have never carried a camping tent with me on my hitchhiking trips so far. Camping is a good option if you are looking to save money on accommodation.

Many hitchhikers refrain from carrying a tent as it adds and occupies a lot of weight and space. The cumbersome process of setting up a tent and carrying its weight on your shoulders is something not many hitchhikers are up for.

 If you don’t mind a few extra ounces of weight on your shoulders, then definitely go with a camping tent if not, then Couchsurfing is a great option to save money on accommodation.

Note: Weather condition is also a vital factor to consider before taking a tent with you. Camping in extreme hot or cold weather condition is not recommended as it is a risk to your health.

Hammocks

Hammocks

Hammocks are an excellent replacement for camping tents as they are lightweight, sturdy, durable and easy to set up. 

This flexibility comes with its own set of disadvantages like lack of space or comfort and dependability on locations with trees of sufficient strength.

Also, the weather condition plays a key role. Hammocks are highly unsuitable for rough weathers due to ineffective insulation.

That said, if the place you are hitchhiking has good weather and sufficient trees to set up a hammock, then surely carry one. I prefer to pack a hammock while hitchhiking. If I find the right location, it saves me time and money on accommodation.

Sleeping bag

Sleeping bag

This is a must as you never know you might have to rest in parks and at gas stations occasionally.

First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit

I don’t think I need to elaborate its importance and use, you already know it. One thing I would say is that your backpack is incomplete without a first-aid kit.

 Here a list of things that I carry in my first aid box-

  •  Band-aids
  •  Neosporin
  •  Alcohol
  •  Sunscreen
  •  Petroleum jelly (for cold weather)
  •  Scissors
  •  Bandages
  •  Cotton balls
  •  Eye-drops

Note: Apart from these things if you have some kind of chronic disease or allergy, then make sure you carry sufficient tablets that would last your journey.

Hitchhiking specific stuff

Markers

Marker

For making signs on the cardboard and to write down the name of the destination you are heading to. This makes it easy for the drivers to easily spot you from a distance and assures them that you are not just wandering aimlessly.

Swiss Knife

Swiss Knife

For opening food cans and fixing things.

Cardboard

Marker - Cardboard sign

You can get these easily near public bins or shops for dirt cheap. Having a small cardboard cutout with you still helps, you can throw it away later when it becomes useless.

Zip-lock bags

ziplock bags

These help you to keep your gadgets safe from rainwater or other liquid stuff that might seep into your backpack.

Snacks

Walking for hours carry all that weight demands a lot of energy. The road is long and sometimes empty, so you must keep yourself energized on the go.

Anything else

The items on this list are more than enough to make your hitchhiking journey safe and smooth. 

It will take some time before you figure out the best packing combination for your hitchhiking trip. It took me two hitchhiking trips and 1200 miles before I figured out how to perfectly pack my backpack.

Apart from the things mentioned above, there are many things to consider. Like a laptop, water filters, utensils and other stuff that you might need.

Remember, these things are based on your individualistic approach towards hitchhiking. If you a freelancer, then taking a laptop with you makes sense even if it adds a few ounces to your backpack and is a pain in the ass to carry around.

I hope this article helps you save your time researching for hours on the Internet and makes your hitchhiking trip a memorable experience.

 Happy Hitchhiking : )

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About the author
Aditya Bhosale
Hello there. For the past five years, I have worked as a travel blogger, photographer, and digital marketer. I packed my backpack, pulled up my socks, and have been wandering around the world wherever the roads lead me since quitting my mundane 9 to 5 job.

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