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.
Maurice Ambler, Two young women hitch-hiking on the French Riviera, 1954 Maurice Ambler, 1954
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
Tim Buckley hitch-hikes by the side of the road with David Peel and Lee Underwood, Germany, 1968
Oskar Poss, Germany, 1955
Dennis Stock, Road People, USA, 1971
Marisa Rastellini, Two young women in a low cost holiday hitchhiking in the street, Italy, 1960s
Karin Stanek – Jedziemy autostopem, 1963
The Sonics – Hitch Hike, 1966
The Lewallen Brothers, Arizona, 1960s