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some tips on hitchhiking

Travel Forums Europe some tips on hitchhiking

1. Posted by Chris Lafosse (Budding Member, 7 posts) 24 Dec '12 11:42

greetings fellow explorers.

I’ve spent the most part of the last few years on the road, living of a guitar. every now and then finding a nice place and settling with a job for a few month (and had spinal surgery, but that’s a whole other story).

i thought i might share some useful bits of info I have learnt along the way.

Respect the road
Hitchhiking is a wonderful way to get around. Its free, fun and opens up a whole new world of opportunity, but I have learnt (the hard way) to respect it. Wake up early, be prepared with cardboard to write signs, prepare for rough weather, be ready to sleep outside.
on occasion I have slipped into an attitude of “yea ill hitch there, will be fine” and its bitten me in the arse by leaving me stranded.
Be prepared for the worst, which is being stranded in the rain at night.

Why the rush
Most of the transport in this world is designed for efficiency, to get from A to B as quick as possible.
I hear many people speak of hitchhiking in a rather logistical manor “I got from Paris to Barcelona in a day” etc.
Try slowing down.

All motorways in Europe are the same. I avoid motorways now, and stick to small roads, partly because of the nice scenery, partly because its easy to find a nice camping spot, but mainly because the people that pick me up are locals, who often invite me to come and stay in their town, where I am welcomed into their community and get to experience some beautiful culture.

Hippie it up a bit
When I started, I bought my self plenty of nice rugged camping gear. A tent, north face jumpers, boots, sleeping bag, gas stove.
Now, I wear rainbow colored hippie clothes (lots of wool stuff). When it comes time to find a place to sleep, I find a nice secluded spot (remote beach is nice), put a big Buddhist pattern throw down for a ‘floor’ start a fire, and do some cooking, then have a wool blanket instead of sleeping bag.
every evening I set up a little home for myself. A bit more effort as fire wood must be collected, but after 1 hour max, I have myself a home for the night.

Outgoing for opportunity
These days, I try to be as outgoing as possible, as it opens up a whole new world of opportunity.
In cars, I ask of where there are nice communities and job opportunities. In France, a ride, gave me work for a day, in a scrap yard sorting through car parts. I learnt a bit about the scrap metal industry and where the money is.
Its nice to get a bit of short time work for a couple of days as its give you a break from the road, and gives you a little money to live a little more luxuriously. Collecting skills as you travel will give your journey a sense of purpose.

A Buddhist way
I thoroughly enjoy learning about new religions on my travels, but none more than Buddhism. I stayed at a Buddhist monastery in Hampshire, uk, where a monk told me that in Buddhism, you take what you want and leave the rest.
This I adore a great deal, as it allows me to take the parts of Buddhism I admire, and create my won philosophy from it.
One aspect of Buddhism I like is (cant remember what its called) where monks leave the monastery and spend their days walking, with a bowl to beg for food and seek to help out in their local communities with what ever they can.
This is part of a personal spiritual journey, which brings me to the next point.

“The journey to enlightenment is made alone”

To apply that to the context of hitchhiking, hitching with friends/companions, is nice for support, but when one is alone, there is a lot more to be learnt.
When I’m with friends, waiting on the side of the road for a lift, we chatter about all sorts, when I am by myself (most of the time) I think.
I think about everything, analyze the past, what I have been through in the last few days.
The emotions I am feeling, why am I feeling them.

When hitching in the USA, I got caught in nasty storm while waiting on the side of the road, no one would stop to pick me up and its in moments like that, that anger starts to boil up.
but I decided to be happy. I had learnt a great deal about emotions from the experience of the extreme ends and have become effective at controlling them.

Travel with companions for fun
Travel alone to learn.

To finish up I would like to leave you with a phrase that I consider my personal ‘way of the road’ and a few helpful links.

“with a passion for learning and unconditional love, Life will become infinite”

A community of friendly hitchhikers
www.digihitch.com

for finding some work abroad, to offer a break from the road and learn of new skills and cultures
www.helpx.net

2. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru, 1496 posts) 24 Dec '12 13:44

As a long time ex-hitchhiker myself (I hitchhiked from Alaska to Patagonia in the '80's) your post resonated with me. (You gotta lose the rainbow coloured hippie uniform though... )

Safe travels. All the best to you.

Cheers,
Terry

3. Posted by brouillard (Budding Member, 29 posts) 25 Dec '12 01:00

Thanks for posting that. It was wonderful to read.

I'm a hitchhiker and was hitchhiking all around Europe. From south Spain to north Norway etc.
You're right, alone is good because you're more open and more flexible.
But it's nice too, to find some other travellers on the road and to travel with them for a while.

Once in Wales, I got stranded too. It was evening dark, raining cats and dogs, and cooold (automne). And! My sleeping bag was still a bit wet from the night before!
It wasn't fun, but I thought: it's still better than every day 8 hours in the office... ;)
And acutally I was lucky and someone local saw me and helped me :)