Mountainous, winding, and beautiful are three great words to describe the view of the Bosnian countryside from the road. A relatively “young” country, Bosnia & Herzegovina is unbelievably rich in history and culture, from its days as part of former Yugoslavia and from its growth as an independent nation.
It is as rich in Muslim traditions as it is in Christian and boasts beautiful castles, mosques, and the decrepit remnants left by civil war. There is so much more to see than the main cities and main attractions.
It’s actually pretty overwhelming. In order to properly experience it all, my solution was to hitchhike, a decision that made my time in Bosnia as unforgettable as I had hoped. In doing so, I experienced so much of the country, was also lucky to gain insight from the (sometimes) English-speaking locals, and saved myself some serious money in the process. With that, I wanted to share a few simple tips and tricks I learned as I thumbed my way through Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Plan Stops in Between
This is another basic hitchhiking tactic, but plan for small stops along the road. Not only does this allow you to see more of the countryside, but it also helps you get more rides. A driver going 10 kilometers down the road may not consider stopping if they see your destination is 300 kilometers away.
Little do they know, you’re kind of cold and tired of standing and you would do almost anything for those 10 sweet km’s in a warm car. It’s also important to have these stops in writing in case of any language barriers or your lack of understanding of the pronunciation of Bosnian words. I’d highly recommend Jajce (pronounced Yight-see), the former capital city of the Kingdom of Bosnia, where the last King of Bosnia ruled. It’s right in the middle of the country, has a beautiful waterfall, and rests at the foot of an old castle on a hill.
Know Your Roads
If you’re like me, you can’t be bothered to get data on your phone for every new country you visit. Planning over a restaurant lunch and Wi-Fi is typically how I do the bulk of my trip planning. So, as I’m sitting in the front seat of a strange car with a man who doesn’t speak a lick of English, I can find comfort in the E661 highway sign that never changes.
In one instance, I was picked up by a man who could not speak English and was shocked that I knew no Bosnian (despite the baffled look on my face and the Canadian flag strapped to my backpack). He knew my final destination was Sarajevo but couldn’t communicate to me how long he’d drive me for. Was it unnerving? Yes, of course, it was. But I found solace in knowing the road and knowing landmarks as we zipped past.
This is one of my favorite tips, but it depends where you are. In Bosnia however, it seems that everyone and their dog smokes. So, right when you’re about to get out of the car, offer the driver a few cigarettes. A pack will cost you less than $3 and will go a long way as a thank you for the ride. Right when you’re about to get out of the car, offer the driver a few cigarettes. Even if the language barrier makes communication almost impossible, this small act will be very much appreciated. I’ve actually milked a few extra miles out of drivers with this, although that’s not the sole purpose of this tip. You’re already bumming free rides from strangers, the least you can do is give back a small token of gratitude!
For you adventurers out there, I hope this was of help. Obviously, there is a lot that you learn on the road, but I believe this is a great starting point. While this is all from personal experience and memory, I am truly envious of you who is inspired by this article and may use some pointers in the planning of your next trip. The exhilarating feeling you get from hitchhiking is truly phenomenal and something I would wholeheartedly recommend to any wanderer or adventurer out there.