Before you go:
Make sure you have a decent map which covers the entire length of the intended trip, complete with road numbers and service stations.
Ensure that you bring a sleeping bag as you may have to settle down somewhere unexpectedly for the night.
Waterproofs, because no one wants to pick up a sopping wet hitchhiker!
Think carefully about the size of your baggage ? nothing puts off a potential ride than seeing a hiker surrounded by several bulky suitcases.
Have enough food to sustain yourself for at least one day - you may be unlucky and have to wait a while for your first lift.
Who to hitch with:
If you are a girl travelling alone you should take every precaution possible and never accept lifts from males unless you are 100% sure of their intentions.
Single men or groups of males may find it difficult to get lifts as potential rides may look upon them with suspicion. It is imperative therefore to do all you can to warm yourselves to drivers.
The best option when hitchhiking is to have a girl and a boy and no more than perhaps three in a group.
Where to wait:
Bear in mind that in most countries it is illegal to wait for your ride on a motorway.
In any case, cars pass by far too quickly on the motorway for the drivers to contemplate picking you up. Find a spot where drivers pass by at a speed slow enough for you to be able to make eye contact with them.
Be sure to wait close to a lay by or a suitable place for a potential ride to stop safely.
This place should also be along a straight stretch of road, to the driver has time to see you, slow down and pull over.
Make sure that you are on the right side of the road for the direction in which you want to travel.
At night, it is advisable (and more fruitful) to try and find a lift in a service station.
Your sign, if you choose to have one (it is recommended), should be written on thick card, with a fat marker in big, clear lettering.
The destination should be a little vague (see below), yet a known one.
You should act happy, smile and be relaxed. Remember that you are not more special than any other hitcher. You don't have the right to be picked up. If you have to wait a long time for a ride, try to keep your spirits up.
Boys, being clean shaven will improve your appearance from the point of view of potential rides.
Girls, if you feel comfortable doing this, then showing off your legs is a known trump card (but only if you are travelling with a male partner).
Try to dress respectably, but make sure you are not too smart either as there is nothing more suspicious than a very well-dressed hitcher.
Do not wear anything that hides your features such as a dipped baseball cap, sunglasses etc. It is important to lake eye contact with any potential ride.
Appearance is important as a driver will decide within the first few seconds of seeing you whether or not to pick you up, based on your appearance.
Negotiating the ride:
If someone stops, don't jump straight into the car. Speak to them at the window, look them in the eyes and ask them where they are going. If you don't feel 100% comfortable with them then you refuse their offer on the grounds that their destination doesn't fit in with the vague one on your sign.
Being vague with where you are going also means that after having refused an offer from someone you are not sure about, they will not know your final destination.
If you are a girl travelling alone, never get into a car with men and if you are several girls travelling together never accept a lift from a car with more than one man.
Before accepting an offer of a lift, look for signs of drunkenness and drug use in the driver. If in any doubt, kindly decline the offer.
If for whatever reason you are not confident in the driver offering you a lift, politely refuse their offer and do not take any nonsense from them.
On the road:
Once on the move, introduce yourself as soon as possible to the driver before it becomes too late and too awkward.
The first topic of conversation should be about the driver's family, career etc as you can then talk about your own and build up a rapport this way.
Avoid controversial topics of conversation such politics or religion. If the driver brings one up then try and take the middle ground and be as modest as possible.
Often a driver will stop to pick you up as a means of preventing themselves from falling asleep. It is therefore important to start talking as early as possible and to try and not fall asleep yourself.
If picked up by a truck driver, remember that they often travel long distances alone and spend almost all of their time in the cab. It is important therefore not only to be friendly and chatty but also to respect their space as in effect it is their home on the road.
If you do decide to get in a car with someone you are not sure about, sit in the front seat to avoid the possibility of being locked in the back by child locks.