You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with. ~ Wayne Dyer
The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. ~ Saint Augustine
“I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.” ~Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Throughout recent years I’ve been traveling mostly by car; the cars of those who are kind enough to let me ride with them to be exact. Many people often ask me whether that’s dangerous, time consuming, or challenging. In fact it’s none of that, but rather I find it exciting, refreshing, and also definitely cheap. It’s a good deal because I get to travel the world low budget, and they get to enjoy my company. With a little bit of planning hitch hiking can be quite an easy undertaking with predictable results.
A lot of people believe that hitch hiking is like playing a lottery. It’s because of those random factors that there’s so much uncertainty and hence fear regarding hitching rides. Of course scary Hollywood movies and negative publicity make it an even more seemingly crazy idea to take your chances with all those evil men out there. Even though I fully respect the bad experiences that other people may have had, I still believe that a lot of it is just happening in your head, because reality is relative and what you have inside of your mind is what’s going to be reflected in the world around you.
It’s for this reason that I claim that hitching is not dangerous at all and that more of the outcome is in your hands than you might think, as is the case with so many other things. I hitched my first ride with my former girlfriend a few years back when we went to see Barcelona together. Since then I’ve learned a lot and I suppose there are some things that are useful to know if you ever plan on hitching yourself. You’ll find that people are more generous to strangers than you might think and that people are also more generous to the bold than the timid. Next to that you’ll see that every person has their own stories and has something interesting to say.
I always find it so amazing that every person I travel with shares some common interest or attitude with me. You attract what you are and it becomes very noticable when you set yourself up to meet ‘ random’ people, for there is no such thing as random; there’s only consciousness. Anyway, so much for the spiritual interpretation of hitch hiking, let’s get down to business.
1. Make a travel plan
One of the most important things to do before you hit the road is to make a travel plan. You have to know where you want to go, what is the best way to get there, taking into consideration that you should always prefer highways over motorways, and what time you want to arrive. Take the most convenient route to your destination and write down which big cities you’ll be passing on the way. It is also important to be aware of the flow of traffic on those specific roads; there’s no use in being at a crowded gas station if all the cars are going in the wrong direction. You will find that sometimes people suggest to take a different route, but from my own experience I can say that it’s better to just make a solid plan and stick to it regardless of what others may say. Besides, being a seasoned hitcher I’m pretty sure my own ideas are backed up by more research and experience. You should check out hitchwiki.org to help you make a plan; it contains a wealth of information so you can prepare your trip properly.
2. Stand at good locations
A good location means everything when it comes to hitching; it’s the difference between waiting for hours and catching a ride within 15 minutes. Time is more valuable than money, so I would say that hitching is not worth it if it takes too long. In that case it would be more efficient to pay for a train, especially in those countries where public transport is dirt cheap anyway. The best places to get rides are gas stations and toll stations. Ramps that lead to highways can also be good locations, or at traffic lights when getting out of a city, but I would never prefer them over the ones mentioned above. Basically you want places where cars either have to slow down or stop so you have a chance to interact with the driver and the opportunity to hop in.
3. Stay on the highway; use gas stations
The best way to hitch from A to B is to move from one gas station to the next one until you reach your destination. You want to avoid getting into cities, because it’s often a time consuming effort to get out again. Don’t expect your driver to know where you should get out; that is your responsibility. Drive as far as both your plans allow you to, and make sure to get dropped off at a gas station before he or she takes a different road or drives into a town. It is best to communicate this early on so you know what you can expect. Most mistakes happen because of miscommunication, so it’s also not a bad idea to learn a few keywords while hitching in foreign countries. In Eastern Europe most people will understand that you mean gas station when you say “benzinka” for example. Another advantage of gas stations is that you can grab something to eat or make use of the toilet.
4. Be proactive
Basically there are two different ways to hitch a ride: Either by taking the initiative yourself, or by inviting someone else to take the initiative. Needless to say the former always yields better results than the latter, but sometimes your options are limited. The good thing about gas stations is that they allow you to take a proactive approach to hitching; you walk up to a driver and ask what direction he or she is going and if you can come along for a short while. The advantage is that you choose who you would like to travel with and that people are more likely to honor your request; your impact on them is bigger because it’s a more intimate interaction than if you were to stand at the side of the road. Next to that, it takes less for people to say yes to a friendly suggestion than to stop their car and ask where you’re going.
5. Make a good impression
A lot of hitch hikers I meet look a bit alternative, with orthodox hairdo’s, clothing, and often decorate themselves with piercings or tattoo’s. Now some people might be sensitive when it comes to expressing identity, but at the end of the day it’s just much easier to hitch a ride when you look like someone who could live next door. In some cases it’s better to blend in than to stand out, and hitching is one of those areas where it counts. Instead, make yourself stand out through your personality rather than appearance; a lot of people will be happy to take a charming, bright minded and humorous person along.
6. Leave early
The earlier you start the better; it’s much easier to get a ride during day than at night. Other than that it’s also preferable to make it to your destination in the same day rather than having to spend the night at a gas station. If you still find yourself in the situation that it’s getting dark and unlikely to reach your destination before the next morning, then I’d suggest looking for truck drivers. They’re often very friendly to hitchers and may drive all night long; sometimes they even let you sleep on their bed!
7. Favor cars over trucks
Time is valuable and cars are generally faster than trucks. Next to that trucks often have a schedule, and most truckers that you’ll see at gas stations are either resting or waiting before they can leave again. Cars on the other hand make short stops to fill up on gas and that usually also means that they’ll have quite some distance to left to cover. It presents you with the perfect opportunity to hitch a ride. The advantage of trucks is that they often drive a long way, so in some cases it may be better to choose the safe and slow option over the fast and less reliable one, for example when there’s very little traffic passing by.
8. Be properly equipped
If you have to stand on the side of road, at traffic lights, a toll station, or near a ramp to the highway then you should make sure that you have a piece of cartboard paper and some markers to write down the name of the first major town on the way to your final destination. Don’t write the name of your destination, because people often don’t think in terms of whether their destination is on the way or not. The main point is to get on the highway anyway, because you can use gas stations from that point on to continue your journey. Don’t hestinate to make a little piece of art out of it and always include a smiley somewhere; subliminal messaging works wonders.
9. Travel light
Don’t ever take big bags or suitcases when hitching, because you’ll only make it harder for yourself. The less space you take, the easier it is to fit your ass in a car. Hitching alone is the easiest, but especially if you’re not experienced it’s better to do it with a friend. You’ll be able to keep each other company and usually people will have room for two. Just avoid being two guys, because that will significantly lower your chances whereas being a boy and girl is the best combination. Also there may be times that you have to walk for some time to reach a proper hitching spot when getting out of a town, so that only emphasizes the need to travel light.
10. Have the right attitude
Attitude is what brings you fortune or misery in life and the same is with hitching rides. Be patient, be grateful, and be bold. Nobody owes you a ride, but you also don’t need to humble yourself when asking for one. Make people feel as if they’re making a small decision and never put any pressure on it; make it sound as if they’re doing you a small favor. Radiate high energy, be uplifting, and smile. Never feel demotivated if getting a ride proves harder than expected; the next car may be the one you were waiting for and every negative thought decreases your chance to get that ride.
I hope this short guide gave you some new insights and perhaps even inspired you to have a go at it yourself some day! I would advice to try this kind of thing in summer or at least when it’s not too cold; there’s absolutely no fun to be had in freezing your ass off while waiting for a ride. Also be aware of cultural differences; it’s much easier to hitch in France or Germany than for example in Spain or Italy. And finally it’s important to not have any oglibations to be somewhere, because even though you can be pretty sure to arrive at your destination you’ll never know at what exact time that will be. Hitching is perfect for people who enjoy a bit of an adventure and have the mental flexibility to adapt to situations as they change. And it is for those who like to meet new people and are interested in different cultures.
I myself love the thrill and accomplishment of traveling by hitch hiking and this summer was definitely not the last time for me. It can be surprisingly easy and fun. I’ll have to decide whether I want to have a go at it during winter, but I doubt it. When you hitch you have to be okay with the possibility of having to sleep outside even if only for the reason that it’ll not put any pressure on your peace of mind regarding the outcome. Last but not least always be grateful for what you get and make sure that people will feel good about taking you with them. The best is when they feel like you’re doing them a favor by sharing your presence with them.
Believe it or not, but there are actually hitch hiking competitions to see who gets from A to B the quickest. I myself am not that die hard, but the feeling of arriving at your destination after a long inspiring journey as you flow along with the currents of the universe is just amazing. I guess hitch hiking is more than just a cheap way to get around; it’s a mentality, a philosophy, a way of life.
Recently I went on a short holiday through a part of Eastern Europe. At the time of this writing I’m actually sitting inside a bar in Prague. This trip was a result of pure spontaneity, and so far the experience has been amazing, even though I’ve only been on the road for about a week.
It all started when I wanted to visit a friend of mine in Slovenia. Since my girlfriend’s brother came to visit me in Amsterdam I figured I could go back with him to Zagreb and get off around Ljubljana. Because of some miscommunication I couldn’t see her, so I decided to go on a little adventure instead. I had never traveled all by myself so I was very excited about this new experience, and I have to say that already so far it’s been one of the best things I’ve done in my life.
I started in Zagreb and hitched my way to Budapest; quite a pearl of a city. There’s a young and vibrant energy which makes for an awesome atmosphere, and the architecture and layout of the city is just beautiful. As soon as you enter the city you feel it, and that’s the feeling I love; feeling right at home. Everything is quite cheap and all the places and sights in the city center are a walking distance away. The people at the youth hostels are very helpful and friendly, and in no time I had myself a bed for the night.
It didn’t take long for me to make my first new friends; Ike from the USA and Noah from the UK. Over the course of several days we spent quite some time together and it was very nice to be in their company while enjoying a beer and visiting some clubs. I found it interesting how easy it was to meet people, because normally when you travel with friends or family your attention is focused more inward than outward. However, when traveling alone you become one with the environment around you and just start attracting what is there.
It might be interesting to read my other article about the laws of attraction before you read on, because that is actually the general idea of what I’ve been doing during my trip so far; you manifest yourself as you want to be and the rest happens automatically as long as you keep an open mind and stay sharp to engage in opportunities to meet new people. Often you find yourself drawn to these people somehow, and when you start a conversation you soon find out that you actually have a lot in common. This intuitive knowing is very interesting once you become more sensitive to this phenomenon.
At the same time I’ve been reading my new latest purchase, called ‘Mastering your hidden self‘ By Serge Kahili King. It’s a very interesting book that explains a thousands year old philosophy and practice from Hawaii which is about making a more intimate connection with the different aspects of the mind, namely the conscious, subconscious, and superconscious mind. But that’s a subject of its own on which I will elaborate soon enough in an upcoming article.
The reason I mention it is because I’m starting to establish a deeper connection with these parts of myself which makes the trip all the more interesting. I’ve met so many wonderful people who are all vibrating on my level that it can’t be a coincidence anymore. Nowadays I can sense by a single look in the eyes if there’s chemistry or not. You only need to notice them and then take action to get involved.
Especially in Bratislava I had an amazing experience with such a person, a girl named Viola. I saw her sitting in a park which happened to be on my path and immediately felt an urge to go and talk to her. Before I knew it hours had passed and we were drinking beers while talking about all kinds of different subjects, from music and relationships to spirituality and philosophy. I felt so enchanted in the moment that when I came to the hostel later that night after we had parted ways I still felt like I was in some kind of dream.
The above experience was definitely the most intense one, but I’ve met many people in Budapest, Bratislava, and Prague that I had a special bond with. I’m sure that if I had not traveled by myself it wouldn’t have happened in this kind of fashion, and therefore I believe that traveling by yourself can be a very eye-opening experience. At least it has been for me, and I’m really happy that I finally did it. The trip is not yet over, because tomorrow I’ll be hitching to Krakow where I’ll be staying for a few days before I return home.
I’ve only been away for a week but it feels like a month; it’s just that many impressions. When you are by yourself you get a very clear idea of what you attract and therefore also who you are. This whole adventure definitely has been like a confirmation to me that I’m on the right path, and everywhere I went people were smiling and happy. Sometimes I feel like some kind of Buddha who is roaming the world like a pilgrim for the meaning of his own life, and sharing his wisdom with others in the process.
Of course there’s also a lot of beautiful women involved that I’ve been going out with to spice it up, and the result is an amazing life experience. The best is when you surprise yourself in a positive way. Like in this one instance that I saw a girl crying in Budapest and decided to talk to her just to make her feel better. I wasn’t looking for anything but to share compassion, and when I left a few minutes later to continue on my way her tears were gone, and therefore my mission was a success. It’s these small things that really give life meaning and purpose.
Traveling by yourself is a healing and purifying experience, and the relationships you build of among the strongest and most genuine ones you’ll have in your life. You meet interesting people everywhere that you share something with, and you expand your world greatly. If you are the kind of person who’s ready for this kind of adventure, then don’t hestitate to go out there! It will inspire you greatly, and you’ll come back home as a different person, having taken yet another step towards the realization of your true self.
I would say this is the opposite but also equivalent of meditation, because you basically do the same thing, just that you turn all your attention outside instead of inside. Either way you completely get absorbed in the moment, and when you are in that flow then everything that happens is good and will lead to more goodness. In that state you can’t really do anything wrong, and I guess one of the keys of living a rich, happy, and fulfilling life is to stay in touch with yourself to cultivate this feeling of cosmic flow within yourself.
So go out there and make it happen! If you want to learn more about the cities I visited I suggest you check wikipedia. My message is that you can feel at home anywhere when you feel right in place of who you are. And a very good way to learn this is by traveling by yourself; be who you want to be and share it with the world.