hitchhiking is the way to go! We do it all the time on our epic charity travel journey to 6 continents
keep in mind a few rules of thumb, and you're good. Hitching a truck ride is especially safe.
I hitched in Chile, Argentina, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, India, Finland, Russia, Norway, France, Belgium, Germany, Portugal, Holland, Cuba - never a problem.
[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]
Actually this is what I found
" The law basically says that you cannot stand on a roadway (including the shoulder) where you may obstruct traffic. However this interpretation of the law suggests that it is OK to hitch from a footpath or the grassy area beside the road.
Elsewhere in Australia it is illegal to hitchhike on motorways (where pedestrians are prohibited and where cars are not allowed to stop). Find a safe spot before a motorway entrance and hitch from there." from here bugaustralia
"I think the conclusion I have come to, barring more authorative information, is hitchhiking is not actually illegal in Australia but it is a traffic offence to stand on or by the road when you try to get/ask for a ride, unless you are standing on the footpath. If there is no footpath, you cannot ask for a ride from the roadside, though if somebody stopped and offered you a lift from the road that you were walking beside that is probably not illegal for them to do, assuming they could stop legally." from here wikitravel
The laws in Australia aren't uniform. We're a federal system so road laws change state to state. I'm almost certain in S.A. it's illegal to hitchhike, but as I said, it might be different in other states.
About 10 years ago i hitched from Adelaide to Brisbane via Melbourne and Sydney. The police never bothered me at any stage, although they never gave me a lift! It was a wonderful trip, memories for the rest of my life, met some of the best people in the world, but also some of the weirdest. Some of the best were a young couple with kids who squeezed me into their car, put me up in their log cabin, fed me and then drove me 15 miles to the next town the next day. The worst included a guy who pulled into a gas station, filled up, didn't pay, made me drive most of the way,and then abandoned me in the middle of nowhere! Story is actually a lot more interesting but gotta go to bed!
i have often hitch hiked short distances in ireland and the US as a teen ager. i would have no problem doing it western countries im in on my own. That saying im not a small guy, and would not recommend it for a female travelling on there own, as I have met some 'characters'.
I got out and did some hitchhiking around Montana last summer. My first hitchhike in years-it brought back old memories. I'm 57 now, enjoy an easy lifestyle, but there was a time (1971-1996) I was the King of the Hitchhikers.
My haunts were Interstates 5, 15, 25, 35, 55, and Interstates 10, 20, 40, 70, 80,. 84, 90, 94. Plus I thumbed a lot of the blue highways (two lane roads). I thumbed the Alaska Highway a few times. A ballpark figure would be about 200, 000 miles thumbed over a 25 year period. The great bulk of it was west of the Mississippi River. I like the mountains and wide open spaces.
I worked day labor everywhere I went. Or I worked the fish processors in Bellingham or Kodiak, or Valdez. I'll post up some of the things I learned as I get the time.
Hitch-hiking in Easern Europe is still very popular. Ive been going there for many years and never seen it decrease.
My first hitchhike was from Forest, Mississippi to San Francisco in May of 1971. I went west on I-20 through Jackson, Mississippi, Shreveport, Louisiana, The Dallas-Fort Worth area, El Paso, then Las Cruces, New Mexico, Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona and wound up in the Los Angeles area. I turned north and hitchhiked up the San Joaquin valley to Modesto then took the bus into San Francisco.
I was 18 years old and knew the cops couldn't send me back home. But that's about all I knew. The whole thing turned into a very trying experience because of my inexperience. I carried no gear-no sleeping bag, no change of clothes, not even a coat.
I got dropped off in the middle of nowhere alot because I was too dumb to question the driver about where he was turning off the interstate. The weather ran from blazing hot to freezing cold. The hitchhike took me 4 days and I was awake all but a few hours of it. I got really dirty and grubby. My hair was long and the wind tangled it all up into a big mess. My hair soaked up the diesel smoke from the big rigs rolling past me. When it was over with I told myself I would never long distance hitchhike again without a sleeping bag and a plan to stay clean.
MY STANDARD HITCHHIKING GEAR
1 Sleeping Bag
1 Change of Clothes
Travel size toiletries
1 Sony Walkman Radio
A Paperback Book of My Choosing
A Magic Marker
A Backpack just big enough to carry everything
I travel light. A hitchhiker does a lot of walking. I don't like packing big loads. They become very cumbersome. And I don't invest a lot of money in the gear. In the old days I was always buying the sleeping bags, backpacks and clothes in thrift stores.
I was always stashing my gear in the bushes around the on ramps of the Interstates and got the gear ripped off a few times. It was a calculated risk I took so I wouldn't have to pack my gear around the towns I was dealing with. But the gear was very cheap to replace the few times it got ripped off.
Last year, for thumbing around Montana, I went to Wal-Mart and bought a $10 sleeping bag and a $15 backpack. Since I hadn't hitchhiked in years it was my first experience thumbing with a cell phone. It was great to be able to stay in contact with friends and relatives. I never missed an opportunity for a free charge in the restaurants and truck stops I was dealing with.
A couple more items on my gear list I failed to mention. Sunglasses are an essential. And a coat-how heavy depends on the season. In the summer I just want a light windbreaker. And a ballcap if I feel I need to regulate the amount of sun my face is getting. I always wear long sleeved shirts to regulate the amount of sun my arms are getting.
On a typical long distance hitchhike between New Orleans and Seattle, which I've done many times, in both directions, I could do it in 4 to 6 days. I'm gonna be out in the elements alot--sun, wind, rain, even snow if it's that time of year. The one type of weather I avoid at all costs is extremely hot weather like mid nineties and above. I've gotten trapped in it before and learned to avoid it.
But my answer to staying clean while thumbing the interstates is the great American truck stop. You probably can't go more than a hundred miles without passing one. There are chain outfits like Petra, Flying J, Travel Centers of America, Pilot, and there are lots of Mom and Pop operations. Practically all of them have showers and laundramats. Lots of these truck stops give free showers to truckers who buy so much fuel. But for the general public nowadays a shower costs around 7 or 8 dollars. I'll go in and get the shower, put on the clean set of clothes then wash the dirty set.
I keep my hair cut short so it doesn't soak up diesel smoke and get tangled by the wind. If I were to wear it long it would have to be long enough that I could put it in a pony tail. And I don't wear grungy clothes either.
So with a nice haircut, nice looking clothes and a fresh shower, I'm looking just like the people I want to pcik me up. I've gotten many a compliment on being a well dressed hitchhiker.
There's about 50,000 miles of Interstate in America. The whole thing was championed by Dwight Eisenhower. Sometime in the early 1900's he was on an Army convoy across America. They took the Lincoln Highway which was the first highway across America. It ran from New York to San Francisco. Interstate 80 runs the same route today.
The Lincoln Highway ran right through the middle of about 600 towns. The convoy had to stop at every stop sign, every red light (if they had them back then), and was continuously getting bogged down. It took them three weeks to cross the country. Ike's thoughts were something like this "Geez, if this country ever gets invaded we're gonna have one tough time moving troops and supplies. " He got a good look at the German Autobahn when he was in Europe in the 1940's. When he became President he pushed the whole thing thru Congress. It's official name is the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.
What does this mean for a hitchhiker? Well, first of all there are no red lights or stop signs. Take Interstate 90 which runs between Boston and Seattle. The last red light was at Wallace, Idaho, a little mining town in a narrow canyon in Northern Idaho. The Interstate was completed up to both sides of Wallace. But if the road was built at ground level thru Wallace it would destroy the historic little town. They built the Interstate on cantilevers and went 4 or 5 stores right over the top of the town. The construction took many years to complete and you always had to come off the Interstate at Wallace, pass through the town stopping at it's blinking red light, then continue on. The only reason the red light was there was becase of the amount of Interstate traffic passing through the town. In 1991 the construction was completed and the red light was taken down and ceremoniously buried.
There are no red lights on the Interstate because at every crossroad it comes too it either goes over the top of it or underneath it. That means there is always an overpass/underpass (bridge) there. At most (but not all) of these crossroads there are exit and entrance ramps to the Interstate. Business's sprang up at these crossroads, adjacent to the Interstate.
The freeway entrances that have services like gas stations, convenience stores, restaurants, motels, truck stops, even supermarkets and bars, is where I do my thumbing. I rarely go past the bottom of the on ramp. I don't walk the freeway. The reason is the traffic is moving slow on the on ramp and it's easy for someone to pull over.
My tightly packed backpack MAKES A NICE SEAT while I'm waiting for a ride. I like to listen to rock 'n roll and get weather reports on the walkman while I'm sitting at the freeway entrances. Or I may do a little reading. I use the restaurants and convenience stores, and showers if available. At times I may even get a hotel room.
When I catch a ride, after thanking the driver for stopping, I ask questions about how far they are going, what services are availabe where they turn off, etc. If no services are available where they turn off I ask them where a better location would be somewhere before their exit. I'll make a shorter ride of it just to insure I'm always thumbing from where there are services.