Hitchhiking to Areni, Armenia / Photo: Narek Aleksanyan
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Although there are not many locals hitchhiking in Armenia and it's not a very common activity here, the country nevertheless is considered to be one of the bests to hitch a lift and travel around: it takes 5 to 10 minutes to get a ride, and it is also safe for hitchhikers. Hitchhiking is often the only way to travel since there's no frequent connection between Yerevan and the remote areas of the country. Knowing this, drivers often stop when they see someone standing on the roadside, and offer a ride in the direction they're going.
I always hitchhike when I travel out of Yerevan, mostly with friends. And although it is generally accepted that a tandem of boy-girl is the best for hitchhiking, I often hitchhike alone, or with my 7-year-old son, whose presence actually makes hitchhiking even more easy.
Getting a lift may be a little harder, when you're a girl traveling alone. Many drivers are suspicious, and they surely want no surprising troubles. This is why it is preferable to dress up appropriately for the road. Wearing skimpy clothes will most likely reduce your chances of getting a ride, or will leave a wrong impression. But of course, that doesn't mean you have to cover yourself from feet to head.
Many drivers may stop and ask you where you're traveling to and that they can take you there. In this case, you'll have to make sure that it's not a taxi and that they are actually going the same direction you're heading to.
Hitchhiking to Yerevan, Armenia / Photo: Narek Aleksanyan
Just as in any other country, avoid sitting in a car if the driver's drunk. Although it's very much possible that he's a good person and he sincerely wants to help you, still don't accept the offer.
When hitchhiking in Armenia, be prepared to marriage proposals from some of the drivers. This actually happened to me a few times. Once, I was hitchhiking from Goris to Yerevan alone, and the driver – a young guy – wanted to take me to his home and introduce me to his parents. He literally begged me to marry him, saying that he'll prepare some gifts and will come meet my family on the New Year evening. It was one of those rare experiences when I had to demand a driver to stop the car. I got off and continued my journey on another car I hitched in a few minutes.
On the other hand, if you actually want to marry an Armenian, perhaps you can find your future spouse somewhere on the roads of Armenia?
Another thing that happens often is when drivers ask for your phone number in order to stay in touch and be friends with you. Obviously, you're not obliged to give them your phone number if you don't want it. Some drivers believe it's their duty to talk to the guest, so that the guest, or the traveler, doesn't get bored. You may feel you're under interrogation and the driver wants to know everything about you – your name, age, job, salary, marital status, husband's job (if you're married), who are your parents, and other questions like these. Things you never though a stranger would want to know about you. You don't have to answer all these questions if you don't want. Try to change the course of the conversation and talk about other topics. And if the conversation isn't pleasant for you, simply ask the driver to stop and continue your way on another car. It doesn't take too long to get a lift in Armenia, unless you're in a remote location with few cars passing by.
Hitchhiking to Dilijan, Armenia / Photo: Narek Aleksanyan
But in most cases, both the drivers and the conversations with them are quite pleasant, and you can make good friends while hitchhiking in Armenia. I have few good friends whom I met on the road. Armenia is a small country, and if you live here for a long time or you travel frequently, there's a good chance of meeting the same driver on the road. You're standing on the roadside with your thumb up, a car stops, and then the driver's like, “Hey, Ani. Hello! Do you remember me? I gave you a lift from Yerevan to Garni once. I'm going to this place now, is it on your way?”
And sometimes you come across people, who desperately want to help you and they decide to first get you to a more suitable place for you, and then get back to their road and continue their way. And drivers often leave their phone numbers in order for you to call them if you get stuck and no cars pick you up.
So, even though hitchhiking is safe in Armenia, let's not forget that everything comes from our minds and that the world around us is the reflection of our thoughts. That's why it is better to travel with good thoughts in our heads, keeping in mind that we meet good people. I often tell to the drivers who give me a ride that they're are good people since they help without asking anything in return. And that their good deeds are helping to spread the culture of helping each other among people. Hit the road with positive energy and thoughts, and the Road will embrace you!