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Hitchhiking, it's great yes?  RSS feed

 
Josh T-Hansen
Posts: 143
Location: Zone 5 Brimfield, MA
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I don't normally hitchhike, but I tried the other day and no one picked me up .  However, the road wasn't busy and I wasn't too surprised.  I'm thinking I should attempt more often because it is frugal and sustainable since many people drive with empty seats.  Although in some cases it may subsidize driving a little, I think the moral conflict is outweighed by the benefits. 

Anyone here a regular hitch hiker?  This thread could be a place to share some tips that would help encourage hesitant people to overcome a phobia of sharing rides with strangers, asking or giving.  I view it as coming together as an extended community, and I am always surprised I don't see more of it here.
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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A great way to increase your chance for a ride is to carry a motorcycle helmet with you.
Most states have helmet laws, so without it, a biker wouldn't stop for you.  When a biker sees you with a helmet, he thinks "one of us".  They'll usually stop and ask if your bike is broken down.  I did that one summer in Florida, and about 90% of my rides were on motorcycles, and most of the cars that stopped were driven by motorcycle owners.
 
Leila Rich
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Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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I'll put in a bit of a caution on hitching.
It's really popular over here, but it's the one thing my mother has ever asked me not to do.
She had a pretty bad experience  hitching in Europe (we're talking 60's here).
So while I think it's a great way of getting around, people do need to be very aware and make some calls that they might generally avoid as being 'judgemental'.
This is particularly relevant to females, but not exclusive...
 
                            
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I hitched some last year, will probably do so again this year. I am by no means an expert, but so far I've had good success. I generally try to find spots on the road with lots of view distance so drivers have time to see me and make a decision to stop. I look for places with some kind of pull off or parking lot because no one wants to stop in the middle of the road. Been picked up by lots of different folks, from latin american folks who don't speak english (and I, regretably, speak no spanish) to older housewives (one even gave me $20 so I could buy something to eat).

I've only had one bad experience, and that was with cops. I got the whole shake-down by the pigs on my way home last year, and unfortunately I did not know the laws relating to hitchin' so when they told me hitchhiking was illegal I couldn't stand up for myself. Hitching was not illegal where I was, but they were uninformed and I, looking rather rough coming out of camping for a few days, was "suspicious." I recommend knowing the laws where you'll be hitching and I'm even going to carry around a small printed version of the statute related to hitchhiking so if I ever get any flak from uninformed pigs I can whip that out.

Also, since I've been hitchhiking I generally stop to pick up anyone I see hitchhiking. Good karma and all.
 
Brice Moss
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
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I used to like to thumb my way along back when I had a more flexible schedule

easier to get a ride if you are a girl or traveling with one.

being clean and presentable is hard on the road but makes getting a ride easier, so worth it,

on that note if you hitch a ride with truckers truck stops generally have showers to rent.

groups of over two generally don't work though.

stopping in big cities was an issue, most of the cars there ain't going far and don't have time for you, if you have any cash grabbing a greyhound to the next small town on your route and hitching from there can get you out of that trap, so can hanging out in a truck stop, but be polite the drivers are pulled off to relax not to be bothered for a ride just write down where you want to go on a sign (no sob story just a destination) and chill until someone invites you along, also buy something its just rude to hang out at a store and buy nothing; buying dinner at the bar and just letting a conversation start is a good way to find you next ride too drivers who want to be left alone will be at the tables those at the bar are lonely and might welcome company.

I picked up this blind fellow last fall who has hitched to most every major city in America. Inspiring fellow.
 
Bucks Brandon
Posts: 44
Location: Bucks County, Pennsylvania [zone 6]
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I don't hitch, but so long as my wife and kid aren't with me I usually will pick up others. As with any interaction with a stranger, pull over and ask where they are going thru the cracked window first. Evaluate them before letting them in your car. Sadly, many of the people around me who don't have a car don't have one for reasons other than poverty [read: DUI, drug use, etc...]. Not an automatic disqualifier - but something to weigh into your decision.

Pause and give a think about if you are willing to give them a ride and if the answer is no then, "Sorry - that would be out of the way for me, but good luck!" If they seem alright then enjoy the satisfaction you can get by helping out another human being. We're all on this planet together, after all!
 
Steve Furlong
Posts: 40
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Ireland is great for hitching, especially in the west. I've hitched the length of the country within a day on two separate occasions! Here's some advice from someone who's been doing it a few years.

Get hold of a tachograph. This is a little paper disk that truck and commercial van drivers use to record details of their journeys. Like the motorbike helmet idea, very few truck drivers will pass by someone holding one. You can get one from a truck driver - every cab has a stack of them.

Know a bit about what conditions cars need to stop. Your ideal hitching spot is level ground, straight road, hard shoulder wide enough to park in, somewhere traffic is slower such as just after a roundabout/traffic calming/junction, the sun not behind you, and of course don't stand in the way!

Presentation! Look calm or even a bit happy. Wear clean intact clothes, and nothing that could stereotypically be considered a sign of an "undesirable" (figure that out according to local prejudices). Maintain a good posture.

Don't even bother trying to hitch in the dark. It's futile.

I haven't yet figured out how to hitch out of cities without spending money or walking for hours. Can anyone suggest anything?
 
John Polk
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Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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A city bus can often get you pretty close to the outskirts.
 
Josh T-Hansen
Posts: 143
Location: Zone 5 Brimfield, MA
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this thread has really gotten going thanks everyone for picking it up!
 
                            
Posts: 22
Location: Cholula, Mexico
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Puppies wrote:
Ireland is great for hitching, especially in the west. I've hitched the length of the country within a day on two separate occasions! Here's some advice from someone who's been doing it a few years.


I was just about to say that! Ireland is the best place ever to hitch  ! My bf and I got lifts just walking around with our packs, and one time even got picked up by a tour bus! I've hitched in Argentina and Chile without much trouble as well.

That being said, I generally don't hitch in my own country (Mexico) except in dire emergency, and never alone. I've had my share of strange interactions that way and would restrict hitching to known routes or necessity, especially the way things have gotten in the past few years    I have a few (male) friends that hitch and get by fairly well, but in general here it isn't that common. That in mind, I'd recommend more or less the same things Puppies said. I've found that hitching facing traffic (letting the drivers see your face) increases chances of getting a ride as well. I'd also toss in that as a woman I wouldn't hitch alone anywhere. I am a feminist and won't get into debates about submitting to patriarchy and suchlike; the fact is that it's a simple, practical precaution I'd take in any part of the world...
 
                        
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I have been told by friends and family for the past lifetime (only twenty-five years) that hitch-hiking is dangerous, deadly.  They don't even say it may be deadly, simply that it is.  I have not tried hitch-hiking in the USA (where I'm from), sad as that is.  I have had wonderful luck in England, France, Turkey, Jordan, the West Bank of Palestine.  People are often kind.  They often have hitch-hiked in their "younger days".  Now I know I'll be stopping to pick up hitchers (as a previous poster cautioned) if they pass a pre-screening by my intuition.  I'll hopefully be hitch-hiking in our country if I can overcome some pre-programmed fears.  Craigslist rideshare has turned out wonderfully.

I agree with what folks have posted about city-woes relating to hitch-hiking.  One time I did get lucky... was at one of the first roundabouts in a town and within minutes of missing a train.  Luckily someone took me straight to the station.  Otherwise, a long walk or a bus ride to the outskirts are what I opted for.

Thank you for the suggestion to take a greyhound to the first stop down the road, that makes sense!

How do people feel about a sign with destination vs. no sign?  I had a sign roughly half of the time I tried hitching... One time I had a sign for about 150 miles away (I figured it's all I could get in a day) and ended up getting a 350 mile ride within 50 miles of my destination.  Other times, with no sign, I got doorstop delivery.  Other times yet, a sign seemed to be a crucial factor, as someone would pick me up heading to the exact destination I had scrawled on my sign, or folks would drive past me trying to pantomime that they were not headed to that location while looking apologetic.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1422
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Hitched from '73-'79 from one end of the U.S. to the other.  The majority of the time it was an O.K. deal but I had a few REALLY bad experiences.  It didn't stop me but back then I wasn't very smart.

I wouldn't recommend it to anyone based on the things I've seen and experienced.
 
Steven Baxter
Posts: 258
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Hawaii is a safe place to hitch hike. People will pull over and offer a ride even if you are not intentionally hitching a ride. I picked up lots of people. Never had bad experiences, mostly good ones. One guy brought me to the gas station and back when I ran out of gas at the beach.
 
                              
Posts: 24
Location: Central Florida
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Back in the 60's my father hitched from Mass. to Cali. to Florida....the last leg of the trip he was picked up by another man who wanted "favors"! But most of the trip was successful. I wouldn't be here if he didn't so glad for the ones who did pick him up! 
 
George Lee
Posts: 539
Location: Athens, GA/Sunset, SC
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I've hitched all up and down California. San Diego to LA to SF and up to Portland as well. Craigslist isn't a bad idea if you want to 'rideshare'. There are plenty of local ads for such things, in your state/city I'm sure.

I always carry a knife if I know I'm gonna hitch (just in case).. Precautionary measure. I'm not afraid to use it. 

I've been in the car with a big black guy at 3am that was telling me how he was gonna fuck a girl he just met in the butt tonight...

I was too drunk to care and thought it was more funny than anything...

You can never be so sure. Sometime desperation takes hold and people act unreasonably in such situations. Also, the economy the way it is, I've noticed a ton more robbery stories as of late.

Good luck out there.

 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
Posts: 6696
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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      From age 12 to 18 I did quite a bit of hitchhiking. The simplest easiest way to get a ride that's going long-distance is to carry a cooler full of various types of pop and hold a sign advertising that fact. Most of my hitchhiking was on secondary highways and many of the smaller stores had nowhere for a big rig to park. I would stand just past this store with my sign. On any given stretch of road your average car is only going a few miles to work or some other local activity. The big trucks are usually going to put some miles behind them so this was the perfect way to select long-distance rides. While in Québec I held a sign which said I speak English. English speakers who were very tired of the ongoing language battles within Québec picked me up so they could vent on the subject. I'm sure in the states you could get a ride with a sign saying either support our troops or down with war . When you see an SUV holdup the support our troops sign, if an old VW van approaches flip it over and show them the down with war side. The most ingenious ploy I ever witnessed was a guy who hitchhiked across Canada holding suitcases he had made from red gas cans. He told me that very few of the people who stopped were offended by his deception and they all had a good laugh.

    In Newfoundland hitchhiking was dead simple. Sometimes the first car would stop and they would invariably try to figure out how you're related.

    While hitchhiking West in Nova Scotia I displayed a sign saying Halifax. Many people stopped to tell me I was going the wrong way.

    Often I would find myself at a truck stop or other location where I was competing with other hitchhikers. I always made sure that I washed, had my hair trimmed neatly, I shaved every day and wore my Sunday best. I would walk out of the gas station, stick my thumb out and get picked up long before the scruffy old guy with the yellow cigarette stained beard who had arrived long before me.

    By the time I was 18 probably one third of my rides where gay guys. Some of them run a route where they pick up every hitchhiker leaving their town and when they get turned down they drop off one hitchhiker and quickly doubled back to find another . They had their fantasy and dozens of hitchhiker's got through town.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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    Bring plenty of warm clothing even if it's summer. I got dropped off on a high plateau in Newfoundland when I was 18. It was about July 10 and had been a relatively warm day but as night approached with no cars in sight it turned cold and then it rained a little before it snowed. I frantically gathered debris from the side of the road and constructed a crude shelter. I then harvested a huge amount of fluffy seed pods similar to milkweed and broke them up for insulation inside my hockey bag which was my suitcase. I spent a very uncomfortable night huddled inside my bag of fluff crouched on a pallet and completely covered in spruce branches. I constantly flexed my muscles and wiggled my fingers and toes to maintain body heat. By about 2 AM all of my clothing and bag and were damp. Finally at about 4 AM I flagged down a pickup truck full of drunks and they left me at a truck stop.

    Bring adequate clothing!
 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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    I haven't hitchhiked in years but I regularly give people rides. If you want a ride stand in a spot where a car can pull over safely. Wear clean clothing. Don't smoke. Don't bring three dogs and a girlfriend. Don't yell at cars that drive past you; I was about to pick a guy up when he screamed at the car in front of me who had passed them by. So I drove by as well. I once picked up a guy who had about 20 boxes. His girlfriend had kicked him out. I was driving a big flat deck truck so we loaded the boxes and I dropped him off 60 miles down the road.

    On several occasions I've been driving to work and have picked up guys who have work boots on. Sometimes they are headed to work but more often they are looking and I've hired many of them for demolition work. I picked up Claude one rainy night about 10 years ago. He was soaked to the skin so I dropped him at the house that I was to demolish the next day so he could camp there and dry out by the wood stove. He's worked for me off and on since then. On one very large job I had several houses in a row and my workforce was made up primarily of homeless guys who I let stay in one of the houses.
 
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