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How to hitch a ride in Hungary – Tips for travellers
by Dávid Márh
Hitching a ride in Hungary is no more difficult than elsewhere in Western Europe. The rules are flexible, the drivers are friendly, public security is acceptable.
A significant percentage of the Hungarian population did not own a car until the early ’90s, which played a large part in shaping the hitchhiker culture which developed in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The influences of that era can still be felt if you try your luck at hitchhiking today. The standard of public transport has risen significantly in the past 20 years, the majority of people own a car these days, but hitchers still exist and many car owners are still willing to take them for a ride – even if far less people choose this form of transport nowadays. Here are our tips if you would like to join the club!
Hungarian drivers know the universal gesture of the thumb sticking out, but holding up a sign with your destination written on it can be just as effective. Checking out the number plates makes no sense, as they don’t indicate the hometown of the driver. They are made up of three letters and three numbers that don’t give away anything. Avoid cars with yellow number plates, though, as those are likely to be taxis.
There’s no rule to prohibit hitchhiking in Hungary. It is only prohibited on the highways, but you’re free to do it anywhere else as long as you obey the regulations applying to pedestrians. One of those prohibits any way of conduct that can confuse drivers, and with that, waving wildly and flashing your tits are kind of out of the question. Pedestrians must stand on the pavement or on the emergency lane, roadside, or on the bicycle lane.
Should you pay?
In some Eastern European countries (e.g. Romania) it is common practice that the driver asks for money for giving hitchhikers a ride, but not in Hungary. Should a driver try to rip you off at the end of the ride, threaten to call the police. If they don’t take you seriously, do it (call 107).
Although we regularly rank high on the international top list of suicide rates by country, murder is relatively rare. Public safety in Hungary is acceptable, and not just by Eastern European standards. Tourists do not suffer any more attacks here than elsewhere, and we never hear of hitchhikers being robbed or assaulted.
If you are a beginner, keep to these universally applicable rules:
– Stand somewhere where the driver can spot you from a distance. Especially in an area where the speed limit is high.
– Stand somewhere where the driver can stop the car safely to pick you up.
– Look neat and tidy.
– Don’t stand close to roundabouts, forks in the road or intersections.
– If your destination is far away, write the name of the place on a piece of cardboard.
– When you get in the car, take a good look at the driver. If he or she seems to be drunk, don’t get in. Don’t put your life in the hands of someone who might put you at risk.
– Be nice to the driver so he or she won’t be put off from giving others a ride in the future.
elsewhere – máshol
flexible – rugalmas
public safety – közbiztonság
acceptable – elfogadható
significant percentage – jelentős százalék
to play part in – szerepet játszani valamiben
to shape – formálni
to develop – fejlődni, fejleszteni
influence – hatás, befolyás
significantly – jelentősen
the majority of – a nagy többsége valaminek
to exist – létezni
to be willing to – hajlandónak lenni valamire
gesture – gesztus
thumb – hüvelykujj
to stick out – kidugni
effective – hatékony
number plate – rendszámtábla
to make sense – értelme van
to indicate – jelezni, jelölni
to be made up – valamiből állni
to give away – elárulni
to avoid – elkerülni
to prohibit – megtiltani
to obey the regulations – betartani a szabályozásokat
to apply – alkalmazni, itt: vonatkozni
pedestrian – gyalogos, járókelő
to wave wildly – vadul integetni
to flash one’s tits – kivillantani a cicijét
pavement – járda
emergency lane – leállósáv
common practice – bevett szokás
to rip somebody off – lehúzni valakit (pénzzel)
to take seriously – komolyan venni
to rank high – magasan rangsorolva lenni
suicide rates – öngyilkossági ráta
to suffer an attack – elszenvedni egy támadást
to be assaulted – megtámadva lenni
to spot – észrevenni
speed limit – sebességhatár
roundabout – körforgalom
fork – útelágazás
intersection – útkereszteződés
to be put off – elkedvetlenítve lenni