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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.