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Hitchhiking in Mexico

Hitchhiking in Mexico Mexico ranks among the better countries in the world for hitchhiking. Many people own personal vehicles here, and there is a great system of highways that stretch all over the country. There is an entire community of travelers hitchhiking Mexico from end to end, and, from interviewing them, the roadside bumming is [...]

Hitchhiking in Mexico

Mexico ranks among the better countries in the world for hitchhiking. Many people own personal vehicles here, and there is a great system of highways that stretch all over the country. There is an entire community of travelers hitchhiking Mexico from end to end, and, from interviewing them, the roadside bumming is pretty good. From my own experience, I hardly even needed to stand on the road long enough to stick my thumb out before getting a lift.

The hand signals for hitching in Mexico are much the same as in the USA: stand on the side of the road with your thumb sticking out, and drivers passing by will know that you are looking for a ride. Be sure that your appearance is kept up, and that you look like a backpacker just wandering about the country — which is to say, benign.

Hitchhiking

Remember to not stand on the highways directly when looking for a ride. On ramps, intersections, and gas stations all make for better hitchhiking platforms. Highway petrol stations are one of the better places to get picked up at, as you are afforded the opportunity to choose your ride and walk up to the driver and ask directly for transport. Such face to face interaction will up your rate of success considerably, and give you more power in deciding who you get into a vehicle with.

A word of warning about hitchhiking in Mexico is that it is not uncommon for people to drive drunk, and sometimes you will find yourself  in a vehicle with a driver with a beer between his legs. It is up to you to determine how drunk he is and whether you should proceed with the ride. If at any time you feel uncomfortable with a driver, get out at the next off ramp or petrol station.

The Spanish phrases for hitchhiking are as follows:

Pidiendo a ride (Ride is in English, seriously, this is what people say), Pedir Aventón,  Hacer Autostop,  Pedir Cola, or even, “Ir a Dedo.” These phrases are very regionalized throughout Latin America, but they all should be understandable.

For more on getting around the world by thumb, go to Vagabond Journey Travel’s Hitchhiking Index.

More infromation about hitchhiking

Books About Hitchhiking

Mexico Travel Guide

Mexico Travel Guide

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About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3411 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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6 comments… add one

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  • Wade October 31, 2010, 11:18 pm

    It is my impression that hitchhiking is an effective way of traveling across Mexico — a very large country with relatively high priced long distance transportation.

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  • Midknight July 9, 2011, 4:14 am

    I have heard many times,traveling by bus is the most common means of transportation in Mexico. The prices are supposed to be alot cheaper than in the U.S., anything from 1st class with a.c. so cold many people advise a blanket or warm clothing to sharing a bus with literally pigs and chickens. From what I have researched the small difference in price doesnt justify the cheapest buses. Digihitch[Road Dog]and The Hobo Lifestyle[Kenny] are 2 websites with 1st hand experiences hitchhiking all over Mexico. Very interesting stories !!

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    • VJT Guides July 9, 2011, 11:06 am

      The first class buses in Mexico are far beyond anything in the USA. It is also not common to find pigs and chickens on most buses in the country. Right on though, the hitchhiking is good.

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  • RK October 23, 2012, 11:03 am

    During the mid-1990’s, I hitchhiked down the East coast of Mexico from Mexico City through Chiapas and returned up the West coast, it took me, my boyfriend at the time and my dog about five months to complete that journey. Our experience wasn’t what you described, although things may be different now. We didn’t see any hitchhikers and most of the time we were walking, of course, having a dog probably made a difference. Although, most people didn’t realize he was my dog, they thought he was a stray.

    Most cars that passed us were already full of people. In Mexico, people living in the smaller towns tend to share car space to go to a neighboring city for shopping. Generally, people didn’t travel much, except on holiday. Maybe for a solo traveler, hitchhiking may be better. We did get some great rides, but they were few and far between.

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    • Wade Shepard October 23, 2012, 8:24 pm

      Hello RK,

      Thanks for sharing these experiences.

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  • RK October 23, 2012, 11:05 am

    Oh, by the way, I’m the person that Midknight refers to in his comment above. My moniker on digihitch.com was ‘Roaddog’ and those were my stories about hitchhiking through Mexico that he refers to. They were once available to read on that site, but after Morgan’s death (the founder of the site) it was changes around and you can’t find them there now.

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