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Guide to HitchHiking


Hitchhike: To travel by soliciting free rides along a road. To solicit or get (a free ride) along a road. Says the dictionary. Now that we have the basic understanding of its definition, we can proceed to some of the finer elements of hitching.

One way to hitch hike is to stick out your thumb in the direction you are going showing it proudly to motorists passing by (my preference). I remember sucking my thumb as a child, now I know why, a cleaner thumb gets you a ride faster. Another way is to write down on a piece of cardboard or paper in bold letter stating the direction you are going or your destination. Not a bad idea, crossing fingers that all drivers can read English and aren't to busy on cell phone or radio to glance up and read. Another way is to ask, at a gas station, convenience store, ect. You can pick your travel partners, have a better idea of what kind of ride your going to be in. I recommend this for novice hitchers until they are comfortable. I recommend never to hitch at night, it is more dangerous (poor visibility) and chances of causing accidents are greater. Only hitch during sun hours and camp at night.

The history of hitching is awesome, it started many many years ago, and until the great divide it was very popular. The great divide being my term where the media went on a rampage about it not being safe for hitchers or for drivers. Totally reminds me of segregation, racism, and our government in general. A fear tactic used to clear off the highways and stop the hippie movement. I don't think anyone is buying it anymore.. too many UFO sightings..

There is an art to hitching, how to get rides to notice you and stop, that is an individual thing you have to experiment with. Trying different looks, smiles, and facial expressions, ect. My favorite is to stand my pack about 50 yards ahead of me, stick out my thumb, look towards the ditch until the driver is close then snap my attention to them, raising my thumb up higher than it was. This grabs their attention, they see me smiling, and decide if they should pick me up. If they think they are to far past me to stop after thinking, there is my pack sitting there to say they haven't. This works especially well and I don't have to struggle with my pack as far as you usually would to get to the ride. Always keep the driver in mind, is there ample room for them to stop, is it safe for them to stop, pick your hitching spots with the drivers ease in mind. I have walked many miles to find a good hitching spot, and when I do find one, I'm not there long. Try to obey the law when you can. But I have found times the off ramp I'm on sucks and I want to move. I do walk down onto the freeway and hitch in a good spot until the trooper stops and reminds me of the law, I get a ride, or make it to another off ramp. I always use the excuse I am walking to the next off ramp, the one behind me has no traffic, and there is no safe place for the motorists to stop. Usually I get a ride to the next off ramp, or a ride to better off ramp. Troopers love it when you are being responsible. Worst case scenario, you have to walk back to the off ramp you came off of, get a ticket, or go to jail. In which case, all are fine with me.

Hitching is great method of traveling if you don't mind the waits, have plenty of time to get where you are going, and love meeting new people. There are basically four types of hitchers. The first is the local hitcher, someone who is broke down, lost their ride, and is only going a short distance (has no back pack, wearing loafers, and looks incredibly new to what they are doing). The second is the survival hitcher. One who hitches around taking only the bare necessities and loves the challenge of day-to-day survival (bed roll, hat, ruff looking, sun glasses). The third is what I call the fluffy hitcher. One who hitches during the day with a 300-dollar backpack, always looks brand new, wears designer jeans, and sleeps in a hotel every night. And the fourth is the average hitcher, smart, intelligent, conservative, and fun. He is easily spotted by the veteran hitchers look on his face (happy), the 40-dollar back pack, sleeping bag, tent, basically a camper with his thumb out. Nice outdoor clothes, hat, head phones, enjoying the day as it was presented to them.

All types of hitchers have one thing in common. They love to hitch hike, even the first one. Now knowing there are different types of hitchers, be sure to pack your backpack to your specific needs regarding what type of traveler you are.Yes!!!, you can be a hitcher too.



This is a must if you plan to hitch a great distance and don't sleep in a hotel every night. I suggest a waterproof backpack if you can afford one or put everything inside plastic bags. A wet pack weighs a lot more than you want to carry. I have an old aluminum frame vinyl pack with lots of pockets. I keep everything in plastic bags (state troopers love this). The basic requirements each hitcher should have is I.D., back up I.D., knife, repair tools, paper, pencil, toilet paper (a must), spare clothing (preferably tuff outside clothing with earth tone to hide and wear and tear), towel (so many uses), a piece of cardboard to sit on, matches, water bottle, gloves, compass, map, string, hat, tanning oil, personal hygiene items (comb, brush, deodorant, shampoo, soap, tooth brush, shaving gear), food, and/or anything you need to have with you. Never carry a firearm or anything illegal. That is the basics most hitchers carry.

Additional things to carry depending on where you sleep at night. Sleeping bag or blanket, soft mat, tent, pillow, flashlight, glow in the dark sticks, pajamas, ect. If you prefer to sleep outdoors, it is best to get away from the road a ways to camp. Fires or lights do attract a lot of attention and with all the cell phones out there, you are bound to have company telling you to move on. If the weather is bad for camping, there is usually a trusty overpass to hide under for the night or a good dry spot to hitch from (beware of landscaped overpasses, sprinklers in the morning aren't to fun to wake up to).

If you prepare your own food, you might want to take a light frying pan, coffee bags or tea bags, plenty of water, dishtowel, can opener, ect. Depending on the kind of food you prepare.

Other things one might consider taking is a calling card, money, rain gear, radio, head phones, sunglasses, books, hobbies, batteries, fishing pole, mace, plastic bags, food, cell phone, lap top, ect. Depending on what kind of traveler you are, where you're going and what kind of weather you might encounter. Now your thinking about getting a backpack aren't ya??

Laundry & Bathing

Here is one of my favorite topics, bathing. There is an assortment of ways to bathe on the road. One way is at a truck stop (also a good place to catch a ride) for a few bucks you can take a quick shower, clean up, possibly do some laundry. Another way is to not bathe at all (not recommended). You can and should for the experience, "skinny dip" in creeks, rivers, ponds, lakes, or pools (my favorite) try to be discreet. And as a last resort, wait for it to rain and find a place to strip down and wash up, or just throw some soap on your head and let the rain do the rest. Wash your clothes at the laundromat or in a creek or river (I do this a lot to conserve resources) and let them dry while you are wearing them if it is warm enough. You can also spruce yourself up, shave, do an image check in restrooms of gas stations, rest areas, restaurants, ect. This is starting to sound like fun isn't it??:)

Food & Lodging

One thing you might be thinking is, where the hell am I suppose to sleep when I'm tired. Here are a few answers to that question. Camp grounds for you campers, rest areas, camp out in the wild, under bridges or over passes (kind of noisy), Salvation Army, some churches provide sleeping accommodations,YMCA's,hotels, hostels (see links, many people offer a place to sleep (see links HitchHikers Registry), in a card board receptacle box (very comfortable), abandoned cars (prefer ones with reclining seats), some truck stops will let you take naps, or take advantage of your ride and cop a nap.
Your attraction to hitching is growing isn't it??

Misc Hitching Stuff

Here are some things to think about if you are wondering what you might want to do if you get bored. One way of entertaining yourself would be to read, I read a lot on the road. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a must read. You can also carry hobbies (drawing, writing, necklace making, poetry, ect), I carry am/fm cassette CD player to listen to music (I love music and talk shows), you can sing all day (no one will hear you to complain), day dream, look at the stars, play a game of Road Salvage (seeing what you can find that people have lost or thrown away that you can use or play with) or ABC license plate (see how long it takes to get from A-Z getting letters off license plates), listen to the voices in your head until they get you a ride, make documentaries on your travels (same as listening to the voices in your head), count the raindrops, run a statistics on the average number of cars that pass you before you get a ride and publish it on the web, use your flashlight to send out the bat signal, use this time to work on yourself, go to a Rainbow Gathering (see links Rainbow Gathering) play peek-a-boo with passing motorists, study the plant and animal life in your current surroundings, or just stand there and space out all day. Now you want to go hitchhiking dont ya, everyone loves to space out.

Practice Practice Practice

Now your ready to take off hitching? Me 2, lets go!!!!! But for you beginners, here is a good idea to get urself in tune. You want to hitchhike but have never done it before. Get all the essentials that you will need for your type of travel and practice around your area. Take a weekend hitching trip around your area and see how you do. A great way to practice, knowing your friend and or family arent to far away. After a few weekends of this, you should be ready to hit the road big time, and call your self an official HitchHiker!!!! If you aren't to sure about yourself and wish there was a class you could take on hitching or a guide service, your in luck, I provide a Alternative Travel Adventure for people who want to try out hitching with someone who is experianced (please refer to the travel guide service page).

I hope this has been helpfull, if there is a topic or anything that I have missed, or anything you want to see in here, please use the contact page to get ahold of me. Hope to see you all out there!!!!!!!!
P.S. And if you do get in a pinch out there, you have better coppied some of the places you can get help, from my links page!!!(coff coff uh-umm)

By Request

1-Would I be willing to teach someone the ropes of hitching? The answer is yes, if you are that uncomforable about it and really want to learn I would be happy to take you out on your first adventures, your treat of course.:) Please refer to the Travel Guide Service Page.(thanks for the request everyone!!)
2-Would you put up a Ride Board for America?? The answer is yes, it will take a bit, until I move the forum.
3-Add your sugestion here!!


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