I don’t hitchhike too much, I have four kids and a husband, which is a prohibitive number of people for a convenient pick up. I do, however, pick up hitchhikers just about every chance I get. To me, it’s a great trade, a chance to increase my per-capita gas mileage and the entertainment is for free! Sure, it takes a certain amount of faith in humanity to pick up a stranger on the side of the road, but then again, it takes a certain amount of faith in humanity for them to take the chance and get in my car. I’ll reach across that divide if you will.
So as someone with a propensity to go out of my way to pick you up while you’re hitching, let me give you a little advice, that will increase your odds of catching a ride and sharing my chips while we drive.
1. Image matters
You don’t have to be squeaky clean (you’re traveling the hard way, after all!) You don’t have to be the picture of the boy or girl next door. You can be a bit grungy, your pack can be worn (in fact it’s a good sign if it is!) You can be tired and road worn. But remember that what I see is selling me, your image matters. Smile. Have the look of the intrepid adventurer that you are. Don’t be afraid to make me laugh with your sign or your roadside “hook.” Have an instrument, be playing it. Look like you’re going to be fun to ride with. Look like I’ll regret it if I drive on past. Be the photograph that sells your story.
2. Be flexible
Be willing to hop in the back of our camper with four kids, or tie your pack on the roof of my van. Be willing to stop and run an errand with me between point A & point B. Be willing to run to catch up if I can’t stop for another hundred yards. Be willing to go only half of the distance you want me to take you. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up taking you the whole way after all!
3. Pay for your ride
That’s right. Pay for your ride. A good hitchhiker always pays for her ride. I’m not talking about offering money, or to pay for gas, or to buy me a meal. I would never expect you to do that, but I do expect a good trade for my effort, so be thinking about what you bring to the table, or the vehicle, as it were. I’ll expect some good stories, some intelligent conversation, or a good laugh, at the very least! Some of our best hitchers have become interviews for travel stories. Others have taught the kids to juggle something, or told us new jokes, or shared recommendations for things we must see in our own travels. Don’t ever take a ride without giving something of yourself in return.
Do you hitch? What are your best hooks for getting picked up? Do you pick up? How do you decide who makes the cut?