Observations on Hitchhiking

I’ve made these observations over the last few months; I thought people might find them funny/interesting…

 

  1. People are inherently friendly. I don’t think there are a greater percentage of psychos out there, but maybe accessibility to cars these days means that there are more on the road. I think that the “don’t speak to strangers” ideal of our mothers has made people more paranoid.

  2. Trucks are goldmines, but near impossible to stop. The best place to get them is at on-ramps after trucks stops when they’re still in low gear (unless you solicit for rides at the actual truck stops…which I refuse to do as I feel it encourages aggressive hitching). If they think for a second about picking you up, this is the place where they still have the possibility to do it. Company trucks aren’t meant to pick up hitchers, but a lot still will. Fishing for a long truck ride is a gamble because you will miss all the regular traffic on the highway.

  3. A smile goes a long way. I’ve been picked up because I had white teeth and I ‘obviously’ took pride in my teeth. Eye contact shows social ability, people won’t pick up someone if they think they can’t hold a conversation.

  4. Having a sign can be good or bad. No sign means you get people stopping out of curiosity to see if they can possibly help you out (and any lift is a good one). Having a sign gets people to pay more attention to you as they drive past, but often they will only stop if they can drive you right to where you are going.

  5. Hitching rides has a very steep learning curve. You learn very quickly what works and what doesn’t, and you gain a feel for what sort of ride you can expect.

  6. Hitching is an unbelievable test of character. What sort of mood will you be in after standing for 2 hours in the same place?

  7. It pays to look entertaining. Stay in a good mood by singing/dancing/juggling rocks/whatever. If you look unsociable then you won’t get a lift. So stay happy, appreciate the sunshine and stay confident about the next car.

  8. The people picking you up are putting as much faith in you as you are in them.

  9. Look over every car before getting in, be decisive and not stupid. If you have doubts you can always send the car on its way before getting yourself in trouble.

  10. Most people who pick you up are lonely. The want to tell you something, if you give them your ear then they’ll take you further than they intended.

  11. The VAST majority of people who pick you up are men; I’ve had close to 50 lifts across the country and only one female so far.

  12. Be friendly EVERYWHERE you go. You always see the same people on the road; if you’re friendly with people in gas stations then they’ll usually pick you up 5 minutes later on the highway. Same goes for car/passenger boats; if you talk to as many people as possible you’ll always get a ride right off the boat just by standing with your thumb out when the cars are leaving.

  13. The hitching loop is small. You always meet the same hitchers on the road, either by leapfrogging each other on the highway, or by getting the same lifts.

  14. Rules of Thumb
    • 1 female = no problem.
    • 2 females = DEFINITELY no problem.
    • 1 male, 1 female = no problem.
    • 1 male = little harder but no problem.
    • 2 males = don’t bother.

  15. Dirty hitching techniques I’ve learned of include…

    • Walking along the highway carrying an empty can of gas. People will pick you up thinking you need a ride to a gas station.
    • Having a sign with a location in the wrong direction. People will stop to tell you you’re on the wrong side of the road, this is when you hop in for a lift to where you really want to go.

  16. There are always exceptions, I successfully hitchhiked across Prince Edward Island in a group of four…

 

Jeremy gave me a lift in his pride and joy - Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia

Jeremy gave me a lift in his pride and joy – Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia

Too bad the cars had the view - Jasper National Park, Alberta

Too bad the cars had the view – Jasper National Park, Alberta

My French slip up - New Brunswick

My French slip up – New Brunswick

The story behind this is amazing, but for another time - Quebec

The story behind this is amazing, but for another time – Quebec

A short hitch on PEI -Clemence and Mark laugh about the 5 minute ride we got down the road.

A short hitch on PEI -Clemence and Mark laugh about the 5 minute ride we got down the road

Jesse

Jesse spent five year's working as a consulting Structural Engineer between studying and hitchhiking abroad in Canada, and then later discovering the simple pleasure of bicycle touring in New Zealand and Australia. Sick of the deadlines in consultancy, he's now riding North through the America's since October 2015.

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