In Romania and the Republic of Moldova, hitchhiking (to go by occasion) seems to be a quite common and practical way of travelling around. Not only in remote rural areas, but also along major roads and highways, this means of transportation is widely used.
While in many western countries, the typical hitchhiker is a young person finding a cheap way of making his journey, the hitchhikers in these two South East European countries are rather different; they represent the whole spectrum of society and age groups. With a poor and often unreliable public transport system and a personal car still rather a luxury item for many, hitchhiking is an easy way to visit relatives, go to the doctor in the district town or go home after a week’s work in other parts of the country.
The poor infrastructure of the public transport meets with the interest of many drivers, to refund their petrol expenses by giving people a lift – it is common and expected to pay for the lift. The money usually amounts to the equivalent of a bus ticket. In some cities, you can find huge crowds of hitchhikers on the arterial roads. Despite the many aspirants, there is usually only little waiting involved to get a lift.
The following photos of hitchhikers were taken on a trip with a van through Romania and the Republic of Moldova. The act of photographing was always the same: Slow down the car, reach out for the camera, run around the van and ask our hitchhikers for a photo before they are gone. Enjoy the trip!