Traveling through this crazy world I have set up camp on many a road to broaden my horizon to my next destination. But as an anonymous source once quoted, “Life is a journey, not a destination”. I certainly agree with this quote, as much as each destination you visit is a part of your journey, the journey in itself will influence you in extraordinary ways.
Getting from one place to another can be trying, it can test your limits and make you border on insanity. We have all had those flights we have missed due to turning up to the wrong airport, or having your boarding gate close 5 minutes prior to your arrival. We have all had those rookie bus tricks with mental drivers, or a ferry ride in rough conditions, or a road trip gone horribly wrong and finding yourself 2 hours out from the road your meant to be following.
These things make your stronger, you want to cry at the time, your frustration has been put to the absolute limit and you question why you left your comfort zone in the first place, but fast forward to how ever long later when you are reunited with your family in your home town, or lazing on a beach in the tropics, and it all becomes clear, that no matter what stress you are put through getting there or getting home, its worth it.
Hitch hiking has been my primary mode of transport the past 6 months. I have stood in the sweltering heat in the middle of summer in Arizona with my thumb out, sweating and thirsty wondering what the hell I am doing by myself, in quite literally the middle of nowhere. From one extreme to the next, I have stood on the side of a ride in Holland, with a native, in December, trying to hitch a ride before the snow starts to set in. It has tested me, but I have gained so much from these experiences.
If you choose to hitch hike, there is a couple of courtesy tips you should know, some Do’s and Dont’s. Here are some that I travel by when hitching cross countries.
Do – Take water and snacks. There is nothing worse then waking up at 5AM, heading out onto the highway where you are surrounded by nothing but concrete and cars, and realizing that as well as not having had any breakfast, you have left your water and snacks at home. You never know how long you are going to be on the road for, or in a car for. Snacks and water especially, is a MUST. Don’t catch yourself out in the heat with no water on you. My go to hitching snacks include; multiple apples and bananas, muesli bars, nuts and cans of chickpeas.
Don’t – Dress promiscuously. OK, this one if mainly for the ladies. Putting yourself out on an open road is already a bit of a risk, minimize your risk by dressing accordingly. It’s better to be picked up covered as opposed to picked up wearing a short skirt thats blowing in the wind, and a shirt that shows more of your chest than the fabric itself. I understand if its the middle of summer and you don’t want to wear jeans or leggings out in the heat, so just put on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, and above all, dress comfortably.
“Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction.” – Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Do – Know where your going. If you only have a vague idea of the direction your aiming for, how do you expect the people who are kind enough to pick you up to be able to help you get closer to where you need to be. I don’t carry a map when hitching, but it is a good idea. I usually write down in full description in my note book that I keep in my bag, where and how to get to where I am heading. I also usually open up google maps on my iPhone and screen shot a couple of photos of the route I need to take.
Don’t – Refuse an invitation. If someone stops for you, and they are heading even just a couple of kilometers down the road, take them up on their offer. All you can do is get a little closer to you destination, plus, they might move you to a better hitch spot.
Do – Listen to your gut instinct. Call it intuition or maybe just a hunch, but you feel it, it’s there, and you have it for a reason. Trust you body. If a car pulls up, winds down their window and asks where you’re heading and you get a negative or weary reaction, kindly thank them and decline their offer. Putting yourself out there in this world is a great thing, but you must be a good judge of character, and be able to feel your way out of some situations. I may be a little naive, but I pride myself in being a good judge of character and I also don’t lack common sense. These skills have gotten me safely from A to B around the world, with only a few minor problems that in the end, I have obviously worked through and learnt from. 😉
Don’t – Be rude. Show the proper etiquette and practice your politeness. If someone has taken the time to pick you up and help you on your journey, odds are they are interested in your life. Tell them your story and listen to theirs. Know what lines not to cross, and befriend the silence. You won’t be speaking every minute of your road trip, and thats ok, learn to be silently comfortable, its a beautiful thing.
“We’re all mad here.” – The Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland
Do – Be prepared to lose your mind. Especially if you are riding solo. You may be on that road for hours on end, watching cars go by and cursing them as they do. You’ll talk to yourself, make up games in your head, create new lyrics to old songs and maybe even shed a tear of frustration. Your not alone, we all go a little mad sometimes. Standing on a road waiting for a ride can be daring and mentally dangerous sometimes, know that when you come out of it, you will be mentally gratefully. Going just a little insane can be a quite eye opening.
Don’t – Worry about a thing. You have made it this far, and the world is with you. Your universe is looking out for you, and we are after all, all but one. Humans are incredible things, it’s our instinct to help each other out, it’s in our blood. That is a pretty wonderful thought. Have your wits about you and don’t lack your common sense, but you know as well as I do, with that wonderful positive energy you set out on the road, to follow through with your journey, will bring you great experiences. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.