Written by Ana Iosub, Romania
We are two travelers from Romania (Ana Iosub and Alex Cilibianu) who left their jobs and are now heading for a life of freelancing and alternative learning. We met three years ago and made our first long hitchhiking trip from Bucharest to Dover, via Amsterdam. In 2012 we grew fond of the idea of studying in Denmark. After almost half an year of debating whether to go to the North or not, we decided to make a blog and archive some of the experiences. Our main wish is to see the world and work from place to place, but we also want to keep our blog updated. In our travels, a Turkish guy gave us traditional tea and bananas, a Dutch man offered us his map and candy, slept at the grandmother of a fellow traveling girl we met on Facebook.
My family is less supportive of the idea that a girl is hitchhiking, although not by herself. In the beginning I preferred not telling them about this at all, because I wanted to avoid the sleepless nights and worries. Now I am trying to be honest with them, and get them used to my new style of living.
In Romania, it is common to pay the driver for taking you from one place to another. During the communism regime, hitchhiking was a usual practice because there were fewer cars and not so many things to spend money on. So hitchhiking was pretty common. People knew where to stand, and card just picked them up. With capitalism, one may think that this is not a very decent way of getting by. So if you don’t have a car, there is always the possibility of train or coach, you might be told.
For the past three years neither of these was a possibility for us. When we first timidly tried, we were facing people’s misconceptions. And the hardest thing to work on is people’s opinions and mentality. Through the years we learned a few things we hold in respect. First and foremost, no matter how expensive the car is, it is common sense to tell the driver that you will not pay for the ride. So if he agrees to think, you thank him, if not, you thank him as well.
Another thing we learned while hitchhiking: never have expectations, never judge the person that decides to take you or not, be open to whatever they may tell you, don’t be too opinionated and accept the fact that people are different, they were brought up differently than you, even though raised in the same country and you may not share the same set of values. Never judge another culture through the eyes of your culture.
So, for a foreigner to hitchhike in Romania, it is useful to know these rules. There is no particular place to stand in, apart from the usual: gas stations, the outskirts of cities. Just hold your sign with the place you want to reach, and a big smile, this always works. And be in high spirits, when drivers look at you they want to see a friendly face. And let the driver know whether you want to pay for the ride or not. We were taken by hotel owners, business coaches, truck drivers, people full of stories and experiences we might not have encountered without hitchhiking. We were given advices, life confessions, ideas, we shared our food and water and above all, we exchanged great amount of positive energy.
We did not face any danger in our travels, just the right situations and people willing to help. We slept in gas stations in our tent, which came as a surprise for the people working there, telling us that the police might come and ask us to leave. Nothing like that happened. We believe there is an unwritten rule that if you are acting natural about what you are doing, people will not be upset, and you will not be misunderstood.
So if you decide to come to Romania, be confident, don’t let your opinion be molded by others, just come and decide for yourself. Don’t think in advance, just free yourself and experience it firsthand!