The hitchhiking horror stories to make you laugh, cry or hide under your duvet…
Hitchhiking is a great way to explore the world on a budget and one of the best things about it is the people that you meet along the way… sometimes.
Other times, the people you meet along the way can be the worst thing about hitchhiking, and when this proves true, things tend to get awkward, uncomfortable or eerily tense in no time at all.
And it’s not always the hitcher who gets the sharp end of the stick either – there’s some weird tales our there from times when good-willed drivers have ended up in precarious scenarios after stopping for a guy or gal.
Here are some tales from across the wanderlust community about their time on the road. Don’t let them put you off stopping next time you pass someone with their thumb out!
- The Marijuana Guys
“I once got a lift from these guys in the States who I realised were absolutely baked as soon as I got in the car. Not that I’m particularly against weed or anything but these guys had effectively hot-boxed their car. I have no idea how I didn’t realise before I got in.
“It turned out to be a pretty hilarious ride… if sketchy. He would drive diagonally across the road back and forth without realising and weirdly kept talking about Ernest Hemingway. I was only with those guys for about an hour or two but I won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. Pretty sure I was high by the end of the journey!”
– Jamie, London
- The Couple Argument
“I remember, like, one time I had been waiting for forever at this gas station a few hours outside Berlin and finally this couple picked me up… I was just so stoked to see anyone stop at that point and they seemed totally cool as well; they were both German and super friendly and talked away.
“Later on though the girl took a phone call in German and sounded a bit distressed on the phone and was totally giving some stares to the guy on the wheel, and when she got off the phone she just started yelling at him and they had this huge argument in German. I couldn’t understand a word. I still have no idea what it was all about but I ended up back on the side of the road like 10 minutes later. I was kind of glad because it was getting totally heated.”
– Skye, California
- The Tag Along
“We were heading up to the Scottish Highlands to meet some friends at a lodge kind of thing for the weekend and picked up this English guy along the way with the intention of taking him maybe an hour or two on his way – he was going to Aberdeen he said. Basically though we were talking and getting along well and explained our plans for the weekend and he said he wanted to come along and stay with up in the lodge for the weekend and basically that he had no ties or friends in Aberdeen… he… was just heading somewhere.
“It was for our friend’s birthday and she wouldn’t have been having any of it and anyway the guy was a little weird so we said no and of course the rest of the trip was an hour long awkward silence. Maybe my fault?”
– Ella, Stirling
- The Spewer
“I was driving to a festival down the East Coast and pulled over to get gas at this station. There’s a guy sitting down with a dog and a piece of cardboard that says ‘West’ and I’m going west and I normally quite like picking up hitchhikers so I strike up a conversation and end up giving him a lift.
“He’s a nice guy and we chat away but he seems to getting more and more agitated as we go along the road. He starts getting really short and a bit snappy and is going in and out of sleep and genuinely starts telling me not to steal his stuff or leave him in the middle of nowhere and by the end of the road he’s telling me if I try and steal his dog he’s going to kill me.
“He goes back to sleep and then wakes up again later and right away kind of nonchalantly rolls down the window and spews out of it. I felt bad for the guy but that’s when I pulled over and told him I wasn’t going any further. To be honest he took it surprisingly well and even thanked me for going that far. Still, I had to clean his spew off my car.”
– Dixon, New York
- The Escalator
“I managed to hitchhike from Calais to Moscow and actually didn’t have any particularly bad lifts but I did ride with a serial bull-shitter at one point. This guy was mad for it. Loved a lie. He started off with some believable stuff and then started spouting shit so quickly I didn’t even know what to say.
“Obviously I didn’t call him out on it or he probably would’ve told me to get out but he went from having been in a bar fist fight at one point to his sister having slept with George Clooney in about 15 minutes. It was actually pretty enjoyable to be fair. Kept me entertained at least. The most ridiculous lie was that he had genuinely once had a pet lion, which he kept in his garden. I asked some questions about what he fed it and he said just burgers. It was hard to keep a straight face.”
– Christian, Birmingham
- What’s New Pussycat?
“I literally once had a four hour ride with this old English guy in Chile who kept playing a Tom Jones greatest hits kind of CD on repeat. And singing all the words. We listened to the whole album like five times and there was no craic at all but I didn’t want to say anything because he was taking me the whole way to Santiago. I actually never want to hear ‘What’s New Pussycat’ again in my life.”
– Niamh, Dublin
- The Beer Hitchhiker
“We once picked up a guy in France who seemed normal at first but then brought a small crate of beer from his bag and drunk the beers in our back seating, chucking the empty cans out the window onto the road and shouting all sorts of things in French we couldn’t understand; getting quite aggressive and actually shaking my seat from the back.
“He was absolutely hammered within a few hours and we were wondering what we should do because I was in a bit of a panic at this point but luckily he kind of ran out of steam and fell asleep. We took a detour into a small town and just told him we were leaving him there. Glad we did as well because we saw him taking more bottles out the bag when he drove off.”
– Todd, Carlisle
- The Genuinely Concerning
“I had been travelling through Europe solo for about a month and got a lift in a truck just outside of Vienna, heading further east. The guy didn’t talk much but kind of seemed like your typical trucker, which was fine with me. He didn’t speak the best English but tried to make some small chat after about an hour. He asked where I was from, where I’d been, all the usual stuff, but then he asked if I had a girlfriend and I told him no, then things got a bit weird.
“He kept going on about how he had seen a lot of “boys like me” was the exact phrase I think, and kept saying things about my hair and the English accent and it was getting quite awkward… and creepy… that I kind of just stayed in silence. At one point he kind of reached out to put his arm on my leg and I moved it off and was kind of glad when he had to pull into a petrol station a bit down the road because I just stayed there. He seemed kind of confused at why… It was very uncomfortable.”
– Chris, London
- The Bank Robbers
“Okay so this is hilarious in hindsight but at the time I was so scared. Like so scared. So I was looking for a lift to Auckland in New Zealand, coming from Rotorua, and these two guys picked me up – baseball caps, big guys with muscles and a big truck of a car, but they were friendly and chatted away and were going to Auckland they said so it was pretty much ideal.
“That was… until a police car came into sight in the distance and the two guys looked at each other kind of strangely and seemed to get really anxious and then were muttering away so I asked them if everything was alright. The guys looked at me and then at each other and then at me again and there was a bit of silence and they said… “we’re on the run” or something like that and explained they had robbed a bank a month before or so and the police had been after them ever since.
“I go completely silent and one of the guys says that they should just drive past and it’ll be fine but the other is talking about literally ramming into the police car because it might recognise them and they’re arguing and getting louder and louder and I’m literally speechless and the police car is getting closer and closer… they’re full on screaming at each other and in the end they just drive past the police car slowly and wave and then start howling with laughter – both of them. They turn round and are like “we got you there, only joking” and my heart is racing! I was scared to death! We actually stayed in touch.”
– Stacey, Minnesota
- The Angry Guy
“I had been driving this French guy for like two hours, we were heading north from London, and I noticed I needed to fill up so I turned off the motorway to head to a service station I knew was a few minutes down the road.
“The guy had seemed like he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder since I met him but kept to himself which is fair enough – though I wouldn’t have minded a bit of a chat. Anyway he starts flipping out big time as soon as I leave the motorway, pointing at his Google maps and screaming “wrong way” and “where you going” and eventually “where you taking me?” like I’ve just told him I’m taking him back to lock him in my basement.
“I try to explain that I’m just filling up the car but it takes him until we get to the station for him to realise and he’s screaming the whole time. Left him there at the station, right enough.”
– Roy, Manchester
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