Once when I was in Secondary School, I played with a leaf I had cut from a tree on my school premises while I walked towards the road where I’d catch a bus home. With my head in the clouds, I let my mind wander with unchecked thoughts, feeling slightly badass for staying later than the school closing hours.

Minutes later as I was about to catch a bus, I realized the leaf was gone, and so was my bus fare without hope of getting it back.

I did the only thing I could. I swallowed my anxiety, stood at the junction, and flagged down vehicles driving by. I got a ride home from a stranger in a Toyota that day.

Years later when I stumbled on the word ‘hitchhike’, I recalled this incident.

Hitchhiking or Thumbing as it is also called is a means of travel. An individual stands by the road either thumbing towards the direction he intends to travel, or in some countries around the world, stands with palms facing upwards, or back facing the direction of travel. Some people also carry written signs to communicate their intentions.

Though the popularity of this means of travel is greatly reduced and in some states in the United States; it is banned, it is a very curious means of travel. Nomads have traveled this way for decades, the country Germany encouraged it in 2010 as a means to improve the mobility of local residents, and there is much more appeal to it than a free ride.

Growing up, I went through a phase of anxiety, and talking to strangers seemed like being sentenced to death without parole. I couldn’t conceive the idea of talking to outsiders, or worse, ask someone I didn’t know for help.

My first hitchhike experience reminded me that there are good people willing to help without needing favours back.

There are a number of interesting people to meet in the world, and spending hours of travel time with a stranger who willingly picks you up on their ride is one way to discover new adventures.

But, for safety purposes, it is always best to hitchhike during the day when you can get a good look at the driver. Never take rides from impaired drivers.

Trust your instincts; my first hitchhike driver choice was made solely by my instinct. The car pulled to a halt, I took a look at the driver’s face and my mind didn’t split from my body and disappear. 

Oftentimes, your instincts are usually right, and your next travel experience might just be in the front seat of a car or cars that picked you up after thumbing in the direction you want to go.

Have you ever had a hitchhiking experience?

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7 thoughts on “Hitchhiking 101

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