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1001 Stories Collection

The Vanishing Hitchhiker

1001 The Vanishing Hitchhiker Pat Kay
Added on 28th August 2020

Oral tradition Urban myth from North America/Western Europe

A chilling, ghostly urban myth.


A man is driving along a lonely stretch of road in the dead of night when he picks up a lovely young hitchhiker, only to find after a while that she has disappeared from the back seat, leaving her jumper behind in the process. When he tries to return it, the man is in for a ghostly surprise!

Why we chose it

The Vanishing Hitchhiker is true modern legend. Almost everyone has heard some variant of it, whether as a “true story” or a campfire tale. It shows us that a myth doesn’t need to be ancient to have a profound impact on culture.

Where it came from

The story of The Vanishing Hitchhiker has a hundred different purported origins on roads all around the world, but none can be certain where the idea truly began. Some say the tale has its roots in earlier legends from the days of horse and carriage, or even religious stories of gods taking to the road in disguise as poor travellers.

Where it went next

Since it first emerged in its present form, this tale has become so prevalent that it has attracted serious attention from paranormal researchers, who’ve spent many years searching for the elusive hitchhiker (they haven’t found her yet!). The legend has inspired many books and films over the years, and even an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Associated stories

The telling above is only one version of this legend; every person who tells it has a slightly different story from everyone else. In fact, phantom hitchhikers are a favourite theme for modern ghost stories, and sightings persist on many roads in the UK and beyond to this day! You need only search the internet to find a wealth of stories and reports of ghostly passengers. Or, of course, you could always drive down the A229 at 2am on a rainy night and see who you pick up…

Added on 28th August 2020

Oral tradition Urban myth from North America/Western Europe