Hitchhiking is used as a common alternative method of transport in Cyprus. Although hitchhiking is a safe way of transportation, there have been incidents of assault and battery that have been reflected in the press. Therefore, hitchhikers are responsible of protecting themselves. Hitchhiking has ecological and economic advantages similar to car sharing. Hitchhiking, which is an ideal way to meet and socialize with new people, can turn into an enjoyable journey as long as individuals are careful about a few aspects.
An important point that hitchhikers should keep in mind is the fact that Cyprus has left hand traffic.
Be sure to wait on the safe side of the road, as far as possible from the part in which vehicles travel, on the unpaved, gravelled part of the emergency lane. Make sure you are at a distance which is visible to drivers, in order to give drivers enough time 1) to decide whether they will stop and 2) to stop safely at the side of the road.
Hitchhiking is considered more dangerous for women. However, reality does not truly reflect this conception. Male hitchhikers have reported as many assault incidents as women. Most reports regarding hitchhiking murder and rape cases revolve around women who hitchhike alone. However, this is a result of men rarely reporting rape cases due to the existing levels of homophobia and the fact that most incidents with male victims tend not to be labelled as “hitchhiker murders”.
It is easier for women to hitchhike. It is more common for female drivers to stop for female hitchhikers. Even families (or other drivers who don’t feel comfortable about hitchhikers) tend to stop for female hitchhikers due to the belief that they maybe “saving” them from a “dangerous” situation. Due to the existing gender-based discrimination, most people believe that it is safer to stop for female hitchhikers. As a result of discrimination on the grounds of gender, women are perceived as more trustworthy for hitchhiking.
You may find a hitchhiker guide (English) prepared especially for female hitchhikers at girls.hitchbase.com.
- Wear noticeable clothes, wait at a safe spot and be careful while walking along the road.
- If you have doubts about the journey offer, refuse it.
- Check if the doors can be opened from inside, you may act as if you are checking whether you have shut the door properly or not.
- Some people suggest taking a note of the vehicle’s number plate, colour and model (you could text the information to a friend).
- Hitchhike with people you know. You may find other hitchhikers from forums such as Hospitality Club, Jayride or DigiHitch.
- It is more dangerous to hitchhike at night than it is during daytime.
- It is probably best not to get into cars in which there are multiple men.
- It is best to sit at the front passenger seat.
- It may be a good idea to purchase pepper spray, although you may not have to use it, it may help you feel safer. Keep in mind that it is illegal in some parts of the world.
- Keep your backpack somewhere close (for example your lap). If you have to get out of the car urgently, it will be easier to grab it.
- Keep the most valuable items such as your passport, wallet, money and mobile phone on you at all times. Therefore, even if you have to leave your bag or backpack, at least you will have saved these items.
- If there are houses or other people around, you may pretend to wave or say goodbye to a friend. The driver will assume that you have been seen getting into the car.
- If you get in a car or truck which is travelling long distance and even if the vehicle is driving towards the exact destination you are travelling to, do not accept going all the way from the beginning. Say that you will visit a friend in a city along the way and after you feel safe with the driver, you may say that you will visit your friend later and travel the entire journey.
- Try to get out of the car at a safe spot.
- Always trust your instincts.
- Think positive to attract positive.
- Try to keep a good conversation with the driver, for details please check hitchhiking etiquette.
- Instead of telling the driver where you are going, ask the driver what direction he/she is travelling. By doing so you can reject the offer if you don’t feel comfortable and you can protect yourself from malicious people who are ready to change their direction for you.