Monday, May 4, 2009

Hitchhiking: a How-To

Long post! Deal with it.

0) Try to hitchhike without a schedule, and say yes to stuff that happens. If you're cool, people will invite you to do fun things along the way. This is some of the best stuff about hitchhiking. On different occasions, I've been picked up by people and subsequently gone camping, eaten dinner with their parents, stayed at their house, and started dating.

1) Figure out what roads to take to get where you're going. You can google it and write it down, or print/buy a map.

2) If you're in a city, catch a bus/ride to the place where the first road from 1) leaves town.

3) If you're not at a good hitching spot, try to find one. They have a place for cars to pull over. They give people plenty of time to see you and think about picking you up. (Try to be after a straightaway or traffic light.) Don't hitch on the side of an interstate if you can avoid it, but onramps are good. If it's dark, you probably won't get a ride, but if you want to try, try under a streetlight.

4) Stand up, stick your thumb out, and smile. Cars will rush past. Some people might wave, or make other odd hand motions. A pinching gesture means "I'm just going a little way", as in "or else I'd pick you up". Sometimes people will give you a thumbs-up. I like the people that gesture, but also hate them. Why not just pull over if you like me so much, jackass?

5) You'll wait for a long time, and it'll feel like even longer. This is the part where you feel like it'll never work, and furthermore, that it was ridiculous of you to ever think it might. Things vary by state, but if you've got a female in your party and you're at a good spot, you'll wait about an hour on average. Lone guys, double that. Triple for two guys. Don't hitch with three guys. It varies a lot, though, so just remember: someone, someday, will pick you up.

5a) Hitching is illegal in lots of places, so sometimes a cop might pull over and warn you. If so, politely apologize, gather your things and don't hitch anymore until they're out of sight. I've never heard of someone being ticketed or arrested, but I guess you might be. In that case, sucks to be you!

5b) If it gets dark, you're probably stuck till morning. To prepare for this, pack some food and water and a sleeping bag. If it rains and you didn't pack a tent, you're going to be miserable and any electronics you're carrying will become unusual paperweights.

6) When someone pulls over, look wholesome. Say "Thanks for stopping!" and ask where they're going. You probably won't know where that is, so tell them your route and they'll probably tell you where yours and theirs diverge. This short conversation is important: if they act creepy, skip the ride.  Otherwise, unless they're going the wrong way, get in the car. Five miles is good enough.

6a) If you're female and alone, keep your bags in your lap so you can bail easily if you need to. If you're a guy and a girl hitching together, remember these two things: the guy should get in first, and if anyone asks if you're dating, say yes, even if you're not.  That's always a leading question, and the things it leads to are bad.

7) Be friendly and talk to your driver. If you're not willing to talk to drivers, don't hitch. Silent strangers make people nervous, and hitching makes you an emissary of hitchhikers everywhere.

8) Start thinking about where you're going to get dropped off. You want a good place, and if it's less than 2 hours before dark, try to get dropped off somewhere you could sleep if you needed to.

8a) If you need help, ask for it. If you need to look at a map, ask if they have one, or if they'd mind stopping at a gas station to check one out. If you need to get dropped off somewhere, say so. If you're not sure about something, ask if they know. If you have a problem with people helping you, get over it. People like helping you, you're like a lost puppy to them.

9) When you get dropped off, go to 3) unless you're at your final destination. Don't worry, you'll get there, eventually. Probably :D

1 comment:

  1. gherr9- Ava (lol. i thought i'd leave that she hit the key pad)
    I love to live vicariously through you, since i will most likely never be a hobo musician. So much fun.-April