Hitchwiki is a collaborative website for hitchhikers, started in 2005. Inspired by Wikipedia and by Douglas Adams’ book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, this website gathers information about hitchhiking. The website has more than 3000 articles on this subject. The Guardian talks about an “internet-fueled revival” undergone by hitchhiking.
Hitchwiki, the encyclopedia of hitchhiking
Like Wikipedia, it is organized by articles and information can be freely added or edited by anyone. Its purpose is “to provide a way to reorganize a lot of the existing know-how into one, easily searchable guide”. You can find articles about how to hitchhike, the history of hitchhiking, hitchhiking habits in different countries, events and news in the hitchhiking community… You can also find travel stories, blogs, or discussion forums. But the main purpose is to gather information about hitchhiking spots all around the world.
Article about Paris on Hitchwiki
There are articles about many cities in the world, with tips about good hitchhiking spots, depending upon the direction of travel. For example, in the article about Paris, there are about 25 hitchhiking spots recommended, classified by direction and highway. This format of articles is good for big cities but it is not very convenient if someone wants to talk about good hitchhiking spots in small towns or the countryside.
So… what’s better than a map to show all of this?
Hitchwiki Maps: hitchhiking spots around the world
On Hitchwiki maps, anyone can add hitchhiking spots or edit existing ones. When you click on one, you can find information about it: a description of the spot, an explanation about how to get there, the average waiting time (mean of the waiting times logged by contributors)…
Hitchwiki Maps: hitchhiking spot in Buchelay, France
You can also see the “hitchability” of the spots, a factor created by this website. Everyone can grade a spot according to its “hitchability”, going from very good to senseless. Every spot has a grade on a scale from 0 to 5 given by the average of the opinions of the contributors. This “hitchability” is represented by a color: the best spots are green and the worst are red. Besides the fact that a map is always more representative and that it gives the exact coordinates of the spots (contrary to the written articles about cities), I think Hitchwiki Maps is very useful thanks to the “hitchability” factor. You can immediately see the colors and start focusing on the best spots.
The map offers basic tools like measuring a distance or an area. It also gives statistics about the spots: we can see for example that Germany and France are the two top countries on the map in terms of the number of spots added.
A collaborative and open source website
The website is entirely collaborative: articles can be added and edited, as spots on the map can be. You just have to sign up with an email address.
Hitchwiki is also open source. The articles of the website are available under The Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike. This means that the content is available to use on other sites and media that agree to share it alike.
Regarding Hitchwiki Maps, you can read it through an open API (Application Programming Interface). You can also download the markers as a file, filtering by continent or country. You can download them in the KML format, and soon in the GPX format. You can also integrate the spots into MAPS.ME, a mobile app that provides offline maps using OpenStreetMap data.
A great tool to incentivize and facilitate hitchhiking
I had the chance to listen to the experience of many people who use Hitchwiki. The majority of them hitchhike frequently and would hitchhike even without this website, but they find it very useful to find good hitchhiking spots, especially to hitchhike out of big cities like Paris. For others, the website has an even stronger role: “Sometimes it encourages me to hitchhike because I can visualize the spots in advance, and I am reassured”, says a casual hitchhiker.
Many of them started by reading the articles on the Wiki and did not know about Hitchwiki Maps. Now they mostly use the Maps. “It is very useful because it is easier to see where the spots are exactly. Sometimes, in the articles, the description is not really precise, and the spots can be hard to find. It is also a good thing to have the “hitchability”. I never try to go to the red spots.”, shares an experienced hitchhiker.
Hitchwiki Maps can well be part, as assessed The Guardian 10 years ago, of an internet-fueled revival of hitchhiking.
BAKER Vicky, “Would you stick out your cyber thumb for a lift?”, The Guardian, 2008, [accessed online]: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/blog/2008/oct/04/green.travel
Get Hitchwiki spots into MAPS.me: https://www.hitchspots.me/