Never mind that ninety out of hundred people do not consider hitchhiking as a safe or recommended option for travel, I totally vote for it.
Call me intrepid or foolish, but in my history of hitchhiking and thumbing, I have fetched up great people – (all of who are now friends on various social networking sites), besides forming a network that ensures yearly visits to them and vice versa!
When said like that, it doesn’t sound very bad, does it? Okay, unlike many others, I haven’t gone hitchhiking across a country or done so for very long intervals, but I have covered much ground this way, in different parts of the world.
So, was it safe?
I cannot make up my mind if I have been lucky or plain dumb to do this (I will go with the luck here), but I do not regret it at all. I have ridden with the driver and the driver’s cattle in the back of trucks and I thought it was such an awesome way to cover new ground. I have made friends with the benefactors, been invited into their homes, been fed and homed and taken sightseeing as well.
On second thoughts, I would do it again.
Your ability to hitchhike says a lot about you. It says you are sure of yourself and you know how to handle situations, can judge quickly and correctly and that no matter what, you will get yourself from Point A to Point B!
But I want to add here that my need to hitchhike was not totally out of necessity (like being out of money or being stranded in the middle of the jungle) – it was more curiosity-driven. I just needed to understand how it worked and if it was safe. It was safe, alright. And fun. But I am not satisfied yet.
But this much I can say – hitchhiking is really not for the overly cautious types. Or the ones with a bad attitude. It is more for the ‘I dare you to ruin my day” types who go about everything with a great attitude, a great sense of humour, confidence in themselves, trust in humankind and a strong belief that nothing bad will ever happen. It is for those who dare to show they trust the others – which, in my experience goes a long way in getting them to trust you in return.
Always remember this – the person who picks you up on the side of the road is just as scared of you – is as much a stranger to you as you are to him – so if he/she ends up asking you a lot of questions about you, be open and straight forward in your answers – it shows you trust them. And people like being trusted.
There are many ways to go about it- sticking out your thumb is just the tip of the hitch-berg- although I would like to add that there is no ‘fool-proof’ way to do this either. No guide books or anyone else can tell you the safest way to do this – because if you fetched up on a cleaver-wielder or a gun-totter, well then, you know never to try it in future.
But don’t take me up on it. Let your own experience be your guide. And yes, I will do it again.
This might not be ideal way to travel, but if you are caught in a situation which forces you to thumb a ride, stay safe. Play smart.
Okay, there is one other thing as well. Unlike what the movie show you, looking sexy and pouting and looking helpless and showing a bit of your skin to thumb a ride, doesn’t work, If it does, you are honestly putting yourself at a greater risk by riding with a person who is keen on seeing a little more of your skin than with the actual intention of assisting you. It pays to look like you know what you are doing.
Carry your confidence on your sleeve.
- Be extra cautious if you are a single female.
- Always carry a strong attitude and a great sense of humour
- Trust your instincts
- Avoid thumbing a ride at nights
- If you must hitchhike, look out for “family” types. It is a bit safer to have women and children in the car you are flagging down.
- At the slightest sign of danger – RUN. Or scream. Or Kick. whatever gets you out of the situation