5 reasons why you should hitchhike once in your lifetime
Below are 5 reasons why you should hitchhike once in your lifetime and some tips and tricks while doing it. During our travels Iris and I hitchhiked in many different parts of the world. Our first trip, for example, was six weeks hitchhiking through Europe. But we also hitchhiked in India, Indonesia, and Mexico. Hitchhiking is a fun and adventurous way of traveling, as it brings you to places you wouldn’t normally go to and lets you meet people you wouldn’t otherwise meet.
1. Seeing goodness in others
What is most surprising about hitchhiking is the fact that it’s so easy. There are loads of people out there who are fully willing to take you along with them. Of course, there are days when you’ll wait for hours until someone takes you with them, but if you are in a good spot it usually doesn’t take longer than an hour or so. Besides, we had many times that we were offered food and drinks by the driver, exchange travel stories and were dropped off at the precise location we needed to be.
In fact, one time when we were traveling from Amsterdam to the far south of Germany a total stranger was more welcoming than relatives I had living there. We thought we would be welcomed open heartedly by family of my mother who live in the house my mom grew up in. But once we were there, it was 10 pm and raining outside, they basically told us to fuck off. Confused and angry we walked a bit further and caught one last ride to a nearby gas station (you’ll come to love these places when you’re hitchhiking), where we were thinking of spending the night eating sausages and being sad. At some point though, I think it was about 2 am, a friendly looking guy came in and bought two bottles of wine. We immediately asked him if he had a garden that we could use to put our tent. He smiled and said yes. This ended up being a great night with us drinking wine with him and sleeping in his guestroom. He even told us to sleep in and just close the door when we would leave because he had some appointments in the morning. This story still surprises me and makes me smile; it’s incredible that you can be greeted with so much kindness from a stranger and so much annoyance and hate by family in one night.
2. Travel without a set plan, so you are forced to talk to people and explore
Nowadays, it’s really easy to travel in a country without needing to talk to people. There’s WIFI everywhere, or you can buy a cheap sim card and have access to the internet all the time. This means that you can look up anything you like, don’t need to ask anyone for directions and can book rooms at any moment. Hitchhiking forces you to wind down and take the time to talk to complete strangers, asking them for a favour. Additionally, they will bring you to places you wouldn’t normally go to. This is what symbolizes hitchhiking, it’s adventure in its truest form, going where friendly people are kind enough to take you. I never expected to go to Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia. But it was one of the most amazing cities I ever visited and would highly recommend anyone going there. Whether it is to watch a movie on top of a mountain in the square of an old castle or to visit the squatter’s neighbourhood Metalcova, it really is a wonderful city.
3. You meet all kinds of different people
It’s very likely that you’ll end up spending many hours with strangers in their car and exchange a lot of stories. This does not only provide you with stories you can tell your grandkids, but it will also help you understand the world we live in better. There are some many places in the world, so many ways to make a living, which can be interesting to learn more about.
4. There are good online resources for hitchhiking
Like I mentioned before, internet is everywhere and you can have access in many places. This means that the parts that used to be difficult about hitchhiking can be resolved easily. The number one website for all information about hitchhiking is hitchwiki.org. They have articles on most countries and major cities, the easiest ways of getting in and out and tips and tricks on a whole range of topics. I think I used this almost always, as it provided the best insights in places you should and shouldn’t go to start moving in the direction you want. Additionally, I would recommend using couchsurfing as a way of meeting people in new places you get to. This makes it easy to meet people and find a place to stay.
5. It’s a valuable skill to learn and fear to conquer
The first time going on a hitchhiking trip is one of the scariest things I have ever done. Me and my girlfriend told everyone that we would go on a Wednesday and I think we didn’t leave until Sunday without telling anyone. Just because we couldn’t get ourselves to go out there and stand on the side of a road in Amsterdam, the city of we grew up in. Now it’s completely different. Whenever there is a reason for me to look for a ride like, missing a bus or having a flat tire with my bike I try to look for a ride. When we were in Sicily, for example, we just missed the bus that would bring us back to the village after walking up a mountain for an hour and a half. So, we tried to stop a car that would take us down. And after a couple of minutes this really old man stopped and motioned us to step inside his car. He barely spoke any English and we barely spoke any Italian, but still we tried to make a conversation and had a lot of fun trying to understand each other.