Why hitch-hike?

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Why hitch-hike?

1. The most obvious reason – it’s free

You can travel hundreds of kilometres without spending a penny on transport. Usually it’s the accommodation and transport that consume the majority of your travel budget. If you’re travelling on a shoestring, choosing to hitch-hike can make a huge difference to your travel expenses.

Although not paying for transport is a benefit, getting free rides is not the only (nor main)  reason why people hitch-hike.

Jon with a village local - Lahic, Azerbaijan, Why hitch-hike?

2. It saves a lot of stress, hassle and time

How many times, while travelling in a foreign country, have you struggled to communicate with the locals in their language (as English wasn’t an option) in order to buy train or coach tickets? How many times have you bought the wrong one or got off at the wrong place, simply because of a failure of communication? Because you didn’t understand them or they didn’t understand you, because the language section in your guidebook didn’t cover what you wanted to say or because the alphabet they used was unintelligible. And how much time have you wasted, queuing up and praying that everything goes according to plan?

Why hitch-hike? Because you don’t have to worry about all that, nothing ever goes according to plan and that’s probably the beauty of it. If you don’t expect anything in particular, you will never  be disappointed.

Why hitch-hike?

3. Travel to places only locals know about

While hitch-hiking you can never be entirely sure where you will end up and therefore you’re bound to see places and things not recommended by any guidebooks. You can see life in places you’re travelling through as it is, not as tour guides want you to see it.

Moreover, hitch-hiking gives you a unique opportunity of seeing the majority of the country you are travelling through. You can forget about hopping from one city to another.

Why hitch-hike?

4. Meet local people

In no other form of transport can you meet so many locals and experience the local culture in all its richness, and for a short period of time, take part in local people’s everyday lives and daily routines, see what they’re doing that day. You might be invited to people’s houses, see their workplaces, go shopping with them, just because you happen to be in the car, while they are going about their normal lives.

Why hitch-hike?

5. Hitch-hiking is the ultimate adventure

It’s because you never know what will happen next.  It might go perfectly smoothly and you get where you wanted to in the shortest time possible, having great conversations and being invited for dinner upon your arrival. But it might equally go terribly wrong, most often due to lack of language in common, and you might end up in the middle of nowhere, after dark, without a map and being completely dependent on your good judgement. But you never know until you try.

Why hitch-hike?

6. Hitch-hiking restores your faith in people

While hitch-hiking you entirely depend on other people. You wave your hand and see what happens. You never know who you’re going to meet next, but most likely they will be people who are either curious, or empathetic, or both, which is the best combination.

By hitch-hiking you let yourself trust others and you’d be surprised how few of them would abuse your trust.

Why hitch-hike?

written by: Ania

29 comments

  • The slogan on your T-shirt says it all. I was just thinking, “I wonder what Jon had to do to earn a place to sleep in this guys house last night.”

  • How much does it generally cost to hitchhike? It seems really interesting and a great experience. Keep up the good content!

    • Hey! Thanks for your comment. In principal hitch-hiking is free and in many countries is considered as such. However, the total cost of a trip depends also on its length, the accommodation you use (if you couchsurf or camp wild it’s free as well) the food you eat and how cheap you can generally be :) At the moment we’re hitch-hiking around Spain, where CS is possible to find but not every night and we tend to spend around 15/20€ per day. Last year we travelled in Turkey and the Caucasus and we spent around 10€ a day.

  • Yep! You make it sound like fun and I guess travelling in couple makes things easier. As a solo woman I wouldn’t adventure myself into hitch-hiking. I get enough hassle already haha.

    • You’re right, hitch-hiking is not advisable for solo female travellers, but it’s fun most definitely! If you ever have a chance, try it with a male friend. It’s an interesting adventure during which you can get to know many people.
      Safe travels! x

      • it is better for a single woman to travel with a male of an ordinery personality ,i mean a fat strong man may be refused for lift, if some local language familier is also better.zzz

  • I’m surprised no one’s mentioned the environmental side to hitchhiking. Apart from all the great reasons listed above, it is also environmentally friendly because you’re actually using empty space in cars/vans/taxis/buses/etc. that are already going that way. This is why I tend to turn down rides offered by people who are not going that way but want to be helpful. It’s very kind and done mostly for non-selfish reasons (except for the occasional guy who looks at you with the most repulsive grin on his face) and in non-haressing ways, but I sometimes feel bad someone’s changing their route for me. Anyway. It’s important to me that I’m not contributing more harm to the environment by not choosing to hire a car or to get a cheap flight, but using only the surplus that this effed up economic system turns into waste and feeds on. It’s another good reason for hitchhiking!

    • You are perfectly right, thanks for your comment! The environmental side of hitch hiking is maybe not an obvious one, but it’s definitely important!
      We will probably have to update our list soon, as there are clearly more reasons to hitch-hike than just the six listed above :) Thanks for your contribution!

  • I’ve always been into travel but never have I considered hitch hicking. I save up for months and months to travel, but it seems hitch hicking would be a really good travel experience. Do you recommend it only for Europe or do you think that it’d be possible in places like South America and Asia? I’m feeling quite excited to do this with a friend now after reading your articles :D

    • Thanks a lot for your comment! We are always glad to hear that what we write can be useful and inspirational to others!
      You should definitely try hitch-hiking, you only live once, after all ;)
      And I reckon travelling outside Europe, especially in developing countries, should be even easier, as people tend to be friendlier, less mistrustful and there are less motorways.
      We haven’t been to South America yet (that’s the job for 2013) but hitch-hiking in Southeast Asia and the Caucasus was really easy and trouble-free.
      If you do it, we’d love to hear about your experience in a guest post :)
      Good luck and happy new year!

  • Sorry I just found your section on South East Asia! Looks very exciting!

  • Currently hitch-hiking across New Zealand with my friend and have been loving the tips and inspiration from this website! Keep up with the good work! Really want to hitch Europe now

    • Thanks for your lovely comment, Caleb! We’re really happy our website is an inspiration to somebody :) Hitching New Zealand sounds amazing, we must do it one day! You are more than welcome to share your experiences with us and our readers by sending photos, travel stories or hitch-hiking guides. Happy hitching!

      • No worries :) it’s a great country for it (for us from the UK anyway) as there’s no language barrier and everyone’s real friendly, someone bought us food on our second ever hitch! I’ll look into writing something when I’m home :)

  • I stumbled upon this blog. I find it rather fascinating! Keep journeying, keep sharing life, and keep telling great stories!

  • Hitch-Hikers’ Handbook,

    You said it simply and beautifully. Not paying is not the true reason people hitch-hike, nor the true reward. We learn and live so much, do we not?

    Thanks for the website and hitch-hiking love!

    Saludos,
    Lizzy

  • We meet some great characters hitch-hiking. My book, Nomadic Gatherings, meets some of them in Australia. I already have some of my early European hitch-hiking adventures online and plan to make the whole story available in print as well: Hitch-Hiking From Scandinavia to the Sunny South of France.

  • I don’t agree with the stress part :P I hitchhiked a couple of times. I was forced to do it the first time because I had missed a bus and was stranded, and did a long 500km journey on another day by choice and loved it. I agree so so much with this post. You really do find out that the world isn’t that terrible place that it’s made out to be!

  • For some people, hitchhiking is a lifestyle. They wander for a while, get a job for a day or two or a week or two and then hit the road again. You meet a lot of great people and it is a cheap way to travel. My faith in God has grown stronger over the years.

    Here is a book you may want to read sometime:

    “The Short, Short Hitchhiker”
    http://hitchhikeamerica.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/the-short-short-hitchhiker/

  • Great blog. I usually try to find the best bus deals (and there are a lot!) but I’m thinking about ditching the bus all together when I go to New Zealand and just wing it. The most fun I’ve had while traveling was when I impulsively joined a friend to a mini trip around Vancouver Island and we had no itinerary, schedule, etc. Having no schedule, we couldn’t get any deals so we decided to hitch hike. All the people we traveled with were extremely nice and helpful.

    I recently chanced a solo departure from Austria to Germany. The guy was really great and never made me feel uncomfortable. It’s always a little ‘risky’ to travel solo as a female but I’m trying not to view the world as a awful place. Clearly, not everyone is out the get you. I’ve heard that NZ is relatively safe when it comes to hitch hiking. Any thoughts on that?

    • Hi Alysia, Thanks a lot for stopping by and sharing your experiences. We agree, the best way to travel in to do it on the fly, too many plans leads to too many worries, and we find it’s generally best to rely on the kindness of strangers. As for travelling in New Zealand. Of course there is an inherent risk in hitching especially if you a female alone. However, if you do decide to go for it. Best of luck to you.

    • Alysia,
      I have hitchhiked in half a dozen countries and New Zealand is by far the easiest and safest that I have experienced in my opinion. I lived there for almost two years and for the last few months when I didn´t have access to a car I hitched as my only form of transport for medium or long distances. Almost weekly we would hike a route that didn´t connect as a full loop and we would be confident that we would get the ride even if it was sunday night and people needed to be back for work the next morning. If I was doing longer trips between cities, I started expecting that I could make the trip faster that the google maps times. As a whole (and everyone is an individual) New Zealanders treat their whole country with a “take care of your neighbour attitude”. It got so silly that at one point a hunter gave us the keys to his truck in the middle of a valley and told us just to put it back after we got to our car (we did leave him a few dollars for fuel because he was so kind).

      Now no one will say that hitch hiking as a solo female has zero-risk but personally I would put hitching in New Zealand as safe as not getting struck by lightning and not winning the lottery. I consider it safe enough that I would (and have) encourage any one I know to do it (female friends, girlfriend, mother…). Most likely what you will suffer from is the first car that you see pulling off the road to give you a ride and then the people inside lecturing you on how it is unsafe for a solo female to be hitch hiking because once there was a guy who killed hitch hikers in australia 40 years ago. If you are really concerned about it, the north island (and around Aukland) has more crime than the south island, although both of these are so minimal I personally would not be concerned. And after all of that promoting, it is possible to get stuck on a slow day hitch hiking anywhere but I can remember 2 out of dozens and dozens of trips hitching (and one ended with my last ride taking me to his house, giving me dinner and place to sleep before driving me to my destination in time for my job the next morning).

      In short, if you would consider it anwhere, New Zealand would be the place to start.

      • Thanks for the reply. Like I’ve said, I’ve done some hitching in Canada & Europe. I had a lot of people lecture me in Canada (I wasn’t even alone!) because of the ‘Highway of Tears.’ I’ve heard about the murders in Australia too. I probably won’t be hitching alone, I’m traveling with another friend like last time. I’m not all that worried or scared either, just wondering what people thought about NZ and hitching. I’ve heard it’s the best place for backpackers, so I assumed it would be relatively safe :)

        The more I hear about NZ, the more it sounds like Canada’s little brother. The people are extremely nice and the country is beautiful :) I think I’ll enjoy my time there.

        • Do it, from a visiting point of view the description I got and have repeated is that the South island island is all the goodness of Canada compressed it into something that you could drive across in 4 hours instead of 4 days. I am horribly biased because of how good of a time I had there but I would put the people and attitudes at the far end of the canadian bell curve, in that the average person everywhere (minus maybe Aukland which is a city of a million and so suffers like anywhere else in the world) are as generous and kind as you would find in the smallest prarie or maritime town.

          Have a great trip and if you have any specific questions feel free ot give me a shout, i´m itw /at / ualberta/ period/ ca

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