Hitchhiking was once one of America’s great pastimes. Young and Old people alike traveled across the country in strangers’ cars and trucks. Now, hitchhiking is looked upon as a dangerous game that few people should attempt to play. There have been movies and books written about the horrible happenings of unlucky hitchhikers but is it really as bad as they make it out to be? There are certainly risks involved in hitchhiking but there are also many benefits as well as ways to avoid dangerous situations. Hitchhiking is a great way to travel long distances on very little money. It also creates a way to meet new people. Many artists and musicians enjoy hitchhiking because of the inspiration their travels brings to their work. Meeting people is a good way to hear new stories as well as old stories from a new point of view.
Drivers are also weary of picking up hitchhikers because they fear the person may be dangerous. The easiest way for hitchhikers to present themselves as unthreatening travelers is to dress appropriately. Few drivers will pick up people that look like street urchins. A nice shirt and a clean haircut go a long way in impressing drivers. Another trick for getting picked up is to present a reason or destination for traveling. A hitchhiker that has a sign that says “New York or Bust” is much more likely to be picked up then somebody that simply has there thumb stuck out. Drivers also like musicians. Even if you are not musically inclined you might consider keeping some of your stuff in a guitar case to create the image of a traveling minstrel.
That danger is hitchhiking is half the fun but there are also ways to minimize the risk. Traveling with another person is always a good idea because you can lend each other support and protection. Together you can make better judgement calls. Do not get into a vehicle that may have a dangerous person at the wheel. The absolute best way to protect yourself is to carry a cell phone. Let the driver know when you enter their car that you have a mobile phone and they will be much less likely to do anything illegal. Often times drivers don’t have water or drinks so grab yourself the best ceramic coffee mug to make everything go easier.
Hitchhiking is a dying sport but it doesn’t have to be! The majority of people in this country are still good and with rising gas prices and global warming there has never been a better time for a carpool trip across the country!