Last June 2016, I did a 2-month hitchhiking trip starting from Lithuania, the Baltic countries, crossing Russia, Kazakhstan and ending in Kyrgyzstan. The experience was amazing! Meeting a lot of local people and having a great time in all the countries. It’s not very difficult hitchhiking in these countries. And most of the people can understand what you are doing.
Happy to share with you guys another hitchhiking adventure!
The easiest time for hitchhiking during my trip was the beginning – from Vilnius to Narva, crossing Latvia and Estonia. In Lithuania, I didn’t have to wait for a ride for more than half an hour at any time. The maximum was almost two hours in Estonia when I was near Tallinn and heading to Narva. Around that area, it was difficult to get a ride, due to highway roads. Cars were going very fast and it was hard for them to stop and take someone for a ride.
How do I usually start a hitchhiking day? When hitchhiking, I usually have to still ride a bus to go outside the cities or asking locals for a ride back to the main road. This is very usual if you stay Couchsurfing and people are living a little far from the city or the main roads. My hosts were helping me choose a good spot to ask for a ride – so that’s valuable information I can always get. I always have a written sign with me on some board or paper, where I have my last destination I want to reach for the day. People will see that, and usually they will understand that I need to go there. If the final destination is too far, I pick a point at the middle, and that’s the location I write on my sign. Also, since not everyone can speak good English in these countries, I had my hosts help me write a short explanation in the local language that I’m trying to hitchhike. Very helpful!
But how did the hitchhiking experience go from country to country? Read on. 😉
Hitchhiking in the Baltic countries
In the Baltic countries, it was very easy to get a ride and I could cover 300 kilometers distance in less than 4 hours. It was little bit challenging to talk to the drivers though. Old people speak Russian and not English. But young people can communicate in English without problems. I have to say that me like European – I don’t need a passport and there are no borders, so it’s paradise for hitchhikers and backpackers! Easy to leave big cities.
Hitchhiking in Russia
Another country for easy hitchhiking, trust me! The main problem you can have if every was the big distances and leaving big cities like Saint Petersburg or Moscow. For more information about traveling in these areas, check this website.
All the drivers can understand what’s autostop and nobody asks you for money. There are some points where you can see locals asking for a ride. There are shared taxis going to small villages. My advice is if you see that, try to walk a little bit far from that point. And try to stay alone to try to get a ride. Doing this, all the drivers will realize that you are a hitchhiker.
There are many trucks driving by and they usually pick hitchhikers. All of them were really nice. I was doing distances around 300-500 kilometers per day and it took me 5-6 hours everyday. It usually depend on the roads. There are some places where the roads are closed for excavation works and the traffic is slow.
The only real problem I had hitchhiking in Russia once was with the police. I was in the border between Russia and Kazakhstan. Police officers tried to ask for money because I didn’t have a visa for Kazakhstan (that’s because I didn’t need one to enter). But after more than an hour in the border, they realized that I didn’t need visa for visiting Kazakhstan (15 days free visa for European passport holders) and they let me go. Luckily the truck driver waited for me!
Getting a ride in Kazakhstan
My main challenge in Kazakhstan was the time. The visa-free stay was only for 15 days and crossing the country is more than 2 000 kilometers. I have to say that there is very little traffic in Kazakhstan. So, that makes it more difficult to get a ride. Sometime, it depends on your luck. If you get long rides, the day will be easy. But it was really hard for me to get a ride because of the little traffic and that the cars were full. Some drivers were asking for money in Kazakhstan. That was the first time during this trip. So you just have to try to explain the best you can that your hitchhiking, meaning free rides. If not, just try stop more cars.
You need to be ready with food and water in Kazakhstan, especially if you travel in summer and the weather is very hot. Sometimes, it was difficult to find a place where you can buy food or just something to drink on the way. My maximun waiting time for a ride was around 3-4 hours a couple of times, due to little traffic and many cars were full of people.
South Kazakhstan was very hard area to get a ride. most of the drivers were asking for money. But if you are patient, you will always find someone who will drive you. Despite the fact that some asked for money, the drivers in Kazakhstan, they were actually amazing. Of course, I can’t count against them if the others asked for money. There are some people who will always not understand what you are doing for travel. But some people, despite language and culture barriers, had it in them to invite me for food, offer me food, or invited me to visit their home!
When you are traveling around Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, my recommendation is for you to bring your passport with you all the time. Even when you are visiting the cities. The police stopped me a few times asking for my passport and if you aren’t carrying it with you, you can get a ticket! It happened to me with a friend of mine in Kazakhstan, and he wasn’t bringing his passport and we had to pay the police some money. Crazy, I know!
If you are traveling on a budget, these countries are paradise for travelers. It’s a challenge to learn a new language and the culture is totally different from Europe – but hey, that’s what’s best about travel! You need to look for something new and unfamiliar because that’s where the real adventure starts. I really enjoyed visiting these countries. I found all these countries very interesting for travel – either for long travel or for just passing by and short visits. If you are more into infusing yourself with the culture, always go for the areas a little further than just the main cities. My trip ended in Bishkek and I didn’t have time to visit Kyrgyzstan! Hopefully I can do it soon 🙂
There you go fellow comrades and travellers! Another hitchhiking adventure for you! If you have never done any hitchhiking, and you want to know more tips, make sure that you read my post about how to hitchhike around the world.
Ever traveled to these countries? This is the time for you to share your stories and experience to us! Drop them in the comments below because we definitely love to hear about them! 🙂
Til the next adventure. x