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How to get off your behind and HITCHHIKE already

Updated on December 26, 2011
I hitchhiked Europe for two months looking like this - and yes I got LOTS of rides
I hitchhiked Europe for two months looking like this - and yes I got LOTS of rides

Clear your mind

In an age of electronics, extremely speedy global travel, and a hell of a lot of stress, the subculture of hitchhiking has seemingly taken a step back in the spotlight. Unlike the 60's and 70's, there don't seem to be many of the soul-searching, dirty vagabonds that brought tales of the weirder parts of society, and injected them into far off lands - all the in name of adventure, wisdom, and the search for a deeper meaning in life. Maybe this is caused by the new society of fear, maybe hitchhikers are going the way of the Dodo, or maybe we are all too involved in our stresses and fast-paced lifestyles that we don't notice the cold lone-wolf standing there on the side of the road, thumb extended, waiting to see where life would take him next. But I digress.

I'm alive, i'm here, and hitchhiking burns inside me like the proverbial fire that burns in all those with a passion in life. I write this to give insight into why and how I hitchhike, and to perhaps give others a shove to join me on the road (i'll keep some extra whiskey in my pack for a picnic up in the arctic circle, perhaps?).

I only first started hitchhiking a few years ago. I had read books like "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac, "The Road to Kathmandu" by Patrick Marnham, and of course "Into The Wild" by Jon Krakauer. After having served in the Canadian Forces Infantry for a couple years previous, I had basically lost my fear of 'people,' and the unknown. I just wanted to go further to the edge of life, to see what I could accomplish, and not have everything set in stone like those people who travel city-to-city without ever really getting to know the land or people they are passing by(Not to say I dislike those people, but without realizing it, we as a race are disconnecting ourselves from reality by a conglomeration of smaller things such as that).

So one day in late summer of 2009, my brother and I decided to hitchhike around the province, before 'life' started up again in the fall. We attempted to train-hop out of town, but after a close-call with a thundering set of grainers we were attempting to pass behind, and a twelve hour wait in the bushes besides the rail yard, we decided to turn tail and head for home... We weren't hardcore enough for that mode of travel. The next day we got our parents to give us a ride out to Hope, BC, to begin our journey through the tall mountains and steep inclines of the Fraser Canyon.

Our first ride was at midnight. An older Aboriginal woman stopped, and after calling us idiots for hitchhiking, invited us into the bed of her truck for a 'short trip' up the road... That short trip ended up being six hours at 120km/hr all the way up to Vernon, with the sweet melodies of Slayer slipping out the rear window... There is a feeling that wraps around you like a warm blanket when life is just right, and that first ride was all I needed to absolutely love it. Since then I have hitchhiked England, Scotland, Norway, Poland, Germany, and The Netherlands.

There is too much to tell of my adventures so far on the road, so i'll leave it at that. Now, how doe your average Joe leave the comforts of society to do such a thing?

This is what NOT to do. Me and my brother learned the hard do's and don'ts of hitchhiking - after being stuck for two days in Golden, BC.
This is what NOT to do. Me and my brother learned the hard do's and don'ts of hitchhiking - after being stuck for two days in Golden, BC.

Just bloody DO IT

Just do it. Seriously. Granted, it's easier to do this while you're young, before you cement yourself into the '9-5 for half your life' lifestyle (whether it's out of obligation or choice). I was in the military for five years, and just recently released, so I can hitchhike around Europe and beyond. I was quite attached to the friends and that particular lifestyle, but I had it in my head that this was a dream of mine. This is what I want to do, what feels right, so why on Earth wouldn't I? That's basically all it took. Now I still live at home, so the military was basically my biggest obligation. But the drive I have in my head, that silences the hesitant thoughts - that can defeat and overcome anything.

But then there's the women. Yea. I dare say i'm lucky on that front, I haven't had a girlfriend for years. I had my flings and short connections with some girls, but I never committed myself. I always thought of the future when it came to women, and how I simply didn't want to commit to someone i'll likely leave in the future, because I knew that there would be drama, general conflict, heart-breaking, and all those other lovely things. You cannot avoid these things in the dating and relationship scene, so I saw no point. But then again, i'm an introvert, and a book to me was better than talking and hanging out with people.

Say you now have rid yourself of the problem with women, whether you have talked it over and came to some sort of agreement, or parted ways. If you have a house, there's not too many choices, of course. Very few, but again if you want this, you will find a way. That's how it goes. After you have settled things dealing with the world outside of your little bubble, you are essentially good to go.

Money is an illusion, you don't need it in this world, it just makes things a lot easier! It's a simple concept, and it's fairly straightforward. Learn to dumpster dive, work as you go for room and board, hell, you can even harvest berries and fish! Some ideas on how to survive may work badly, and some will work right, but that's how we learn, that's how life works. One of the best "holy shit" moments that hit me while hitchhiking with my brother, was that the only thing we had to decide was what road were we going to take. We could sleep anywhere if we hid in just a bit of foliage, and you don't need much money at all to buy a can of beans and/or a loaf of bread.

So is that it? Barring unforeseen diseases, disabilities, sick family, and perhaps children, I would say yes. Even the Buddha made the conscious decision to leave his wife and son in search of enlightenment - it was worth enough in his mind to do so, but he only had the best intentions in regards to what he was out to achieve.

Many of us who hitchhike, I believe, are looking for that same thing. New journeys, new concepts, new perspectives, insight our your lives and the lives of everyone and anyone in every part of the world.

I wanted to go to the Highlands... So I went to the Highlands!
I wanted to go to the Highlands... So I went to the Highlands!
Camping outside of a town in North East Scotland. The joys of choosing anywhere to sleep
Camping outside of a town in North East Scotland. The joys of choosing anywhere to sleep

Adventure

Everyone's adventure is going to differ, just as every single one of us on this Earth leads a purely unique life. There will of course be down's, and maybe a lot of them, but there will also be a lot of awesome times. We all have the ability to not let the bad keep us down in the doldrums, it's all a matter of perspective, and how you choose to translate it's effect on you.

Hopefully my little viewpoint on hitchhiking, although the same general ideas can be used for a lot of things in life, got someone thinking about doing it. There are fewer of us, that's for sure.

We Are All Observers

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    • OutsideYourWorld profile image
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      OutsideYourWorld 5 years ago from Vancouver, British Columbia. Canada

      The joys of hitchhiking are that you can do it however you like. Personally I like to rough it, as it saves money, and I usually have the weirdest and funnest times. Last time in Europe I stayed in Hostels probably 75% of the trip, as I was still getting used to the idea of traveling. I'm leaving for Europe again soon enough, and when I get tired, exhausted, and cold, i'm going to try and find temporary jobs in hostels - it's a great way to meet people. The most important thing is to do it, in whatever way you see fit. Most peoples' problem is that they never start! :)

      The only places I have gotten lost in are cities, actually, especially in Europe (And it's obviously worse if you're drunk, haha). It's not hard to follow maps for the most part, and asking locals has always worked.

      I have had quite a few crazy experiences, from dope-smoking gold miners picking me and my brother up, to crazy dogs in the middle of nowhere stalking me as I walked down the highway. I have been picked up by rich guys in 100,000 BMW's and given a bed for the night in the same house as his wife and child, even. He also bought me about $40 worth of food for the next day.

      A lot of people try to generalize the type of people that pick you up, but we are all unique in our own way.

    • mandymoreno81 profile image

      mandymoreno81 5 years ago

      Sounds like an awesome adventure! I'm young but I like my creature comforts too much to hitchhike that far. I'd settle more for going to various cities and staying in hostels or living in different areas and working before moving to the next one. Do you have any stories about getting lost or any crazy experiences?