Hitchhiking, 1936-1977 | Photos by Robert Doisneau / Dennis Stock / Walker Evans / Maurice Ambler / Marisa Rastellini / Oskar Poss

Walker Evans, Hitchhiking near Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1936

Hitchhikers use a variety of signals to indicate they need a ride. Indicators can be physical gestures
or displays including written signs. The physical gestures, e.g., hand signals, hitchhikers use differ
around the world:

In some African countries, the hitchhiker’s hand is held with the palm facing upwards.

In most of Europe, North America, and the United Kingdom, most hitchhikers stand with their
back facing the direction of travel. The hitchhiker typically extends their arm towards the road
with the thumb of the closed hand pointing upward or in the direction of vehicle travel.

In other parts of the world, such as Australia, it is more common to use the index finger to
point at the road.

Carl Gaston, Hitchhiking, 1938
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François Le Diascorn, A couple hitch-hiking along a road in Kenya
Cote d’Azur, 1955

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Maurice Ambler, Two young women hitch-hiking on the French Riviera, 1954                                                    Maurice Ambler, 1954

Evening Standard, Hippies hitching a ride to a love in at Woburn Park, 1969
In Cuba, picking up hitchhikers is mandatory for government vehicles, if passenger space is
available. Hitchhiking is encouraged, as Cuba has few cars, and hitch hikers use designated
 spots. Drivers pick up waiting riders on a first come, first served basis.
In Israel, hitchhiking is commonplace at designated locations called trempiyadas (טרמפיאדה
in Hebrew, derived from the “German” trampen). Travelers soliciting rides, called trempists,
 wait at trempiyadas, typically junctions of highways or main roads outside of a city.
In Nepal, hitchhiking is very common in rural areas. Many do not own cars so hitchhiking
is a common practice especially in and around villages.
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Poland, 1966                                                           Dennis Stock, Road People, USA, 1971
Hitchhiking was legalised and formalised in Poland in 1957. Hitchhikers could buy booklets
 including coupons from travel agencies.These coupons were given to drivers who took 
hitchhikers. By the end of each season drivers who collected the highest number of 
coupons could exchange them for prizes and others took part in a lottery. 
This so-called “Akcja Autostop” was popular till the end of the 1970s.


Robert Doisneau, 1954

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Tim Buckley hitch-hikes by the side of the road with David Peel and Lee Underwood, Germany, 1968


Oskar Poss, Germany, 1955

H. Armstrong Roberts, 1930s
Frank Capra, It Happened One Night, 1934
Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable attempt to hitchhike in It Happened One Night, 1934 / Frank Capra

Night Terror (1977) / Director: E.W. Swackhamer
Dennis Stock, Road People, USA, 1971    
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  Dennis Stock, Road People, USA, 1971


Marisa Rastellini, Two young women in a low cost holiday hitchhiking in the street, Italy, 1960s 

Bobby Curtola, Hitchhiker, 1961

Karin Stanek – Jedziemy autostopem, 1963

The Sonics – Hitch Hike, 1966

The Lewallen Brothers

The Lewallen Brothers, Arizona, 1960s



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