Why I love hitchhiking

It’s not easy to find a better way for two people to travel 4000km for $175.   16 rides, 79 hours, 5 provinces.  And the majority of that big spending was for one lovely night of luxury in a hotel.

I’ve been hitchhiking a LOT, for 20 years now, and I still hitchhike by choice.  It’s not because I can’t afford to drive, but because it’s so much more interesting in every way to hitch there when there’s someplace to go.

The book I “mean” to write about how to change your life through hitchhiking isn’t writing itself, but someday, it’ll come out.  With well over 2000 rides on my hitching thumb, I stand by my advocating that more people should hitchhike. It is safe, it’s fun, it is always educational, and of course it’s nearly free. Oh, and of course, environmental.

I want more people to get out on the road and embrace the adventure.  You never know who you’ll meet, and I promise, you’ll meet people that you just wouldn’t get to know in any other context.

Just on this trip, we got rides from a dentist, an actor, a farmer, a grandma, a young mother, a student, an accountant, and a geologist. We were often in big trucks, and truckers are a whole subculture of their own (they’re going to get a whole chapter.)  We heard stories to beat the band, got invited on a detour to see Norwegian horses, and delved for free dental hygiene advice.

I haven’t done a cross-country winter trip for some time, nor done it with company, but I just crossed the cold country of Canada in December, with my new husband in tow.  It went spectacularly well.  I think it may be a PB speed record, too, considering we maximized our mid-trip hotel night.

Winter weather definitely adds a significant variable to the whole hitchhiking game, but as is often the case, it’s about being prepared.  Besides, it’s just not an adventure until there’s some challenge or at least, a sense of throwing yourself on faith in the unknown (that’s the best part).  It always, always turns out just fine.

We had great weather on the whole.  There was one night in Regina when we got dropped out of a truck at 4 am and thought we could wait it out on the road until the sun came up, but we couldn’t. 

I fell completely asleep leaning on my hand.

We beat a hard retreat to the shining beacon of warm 24-hour light that was Tim Horton’s, and warmed up with white hot chocolates until dawn.   There was a tense moment in Mattawa, where they just don’t have decent shoulders anywhere.

I just haven’t come to terms with the smokers yet. IMO, people who smoke in their vehicles are the only real downside of hitching.  I am so sensitive to cigarette smoke I feel like I’m being slowly murdered when I’m trapped in the cab with a smoker, and try as I might to not breathe, I still get headachey and nauseous.  It seems a great deal of people in the world still smoke, and I have yet to find an answer to this problem.  Hmm.


Hitchhiking in Iceland

Hitchhiking history

Safe travels

5 thoughts on “Why I love hitchhiking”

  1. Everyone says hitchhiking is dangerous. I’ve often said I’d like to hitch across the US but am worried somebody would murder me but not slowly! Cant wait to read your book.

    1. There is that risk. However, the actual risk is much lower than we are encouraged to believe, and living smaller because of fear never helped anyone. Everyone says “aren’t you afraid?” and no, I’m not. A) Because I have learned by experience stacked thousands of rides high that there are many times as many good people as dubious people, and B) I choose to focus on the positive and not dwell on the marginal risk and fear. Those feelings are unpleasant and weakening, not to mention that they possibly invite the negative experiences by focusing on it.

  2. Safe Journey and you put the smoking problem beautifully. I just want to look at them and say… “Thanks for murdering me slowly!” As I ride my bike instead of use my car as much as I can… I smell the smoke as I ride by… turn and make eye contact… and firmly say the word, “Cancer!” It’s obnoxious, I know, but the labels have been on the packs for about 30 years and the evidence was in decades before that! I just can’t understand how anybody decides in the last 25 years or so that it is a good idea to smoke! Anyhow… I am trying to let go of my of my self~centered ego driven admonitions before karma weighs in and I get “car~doored” as I am turned around letting a smoker have it… only to have them walk up and stand over my pain~wracked body and announce… “Car door!” :-)

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