Why should you hitchhike?
It’s a question that always arises at some point when talking about hitchhiking. Why on Earth would anybody actually engage in this activity? Below are five points explaining why I thoroughly enjoy hitchhiking.
Positive mental health
First off, hitchhiking and mental health have always run side-by-side for me. Everyone is different, but given where I was in my life when I started hitching, it helped me develop in countless ways.
I never considered alternative travel a possibility but a few people I’ve met in my life changed that. It always seemed such a foreign idea, so distant that it was out of my reach. How could I ever hitchhike?
Once on the road, I discovered a world of new possibilities. I developed assurance in my own initiatives; I found a sense of belonging; I discovered I could travel alone and not have a care in the world.
Everything I found on the road brought me to the person I am now. Without hitchhiking, life would have taken a very different road.
Security in the self
Another idea that often arises is ‘security’. Aside from financial security, I find people (without necessarily verbalising it) often question how one can feel secure in an unknown place with no known way out.
I see it as follows: at home everything is set. Wake up, food, shower, job, gym, home… or something similar. On the road, there’s only a limited schedule. Without a rigid schedule or places you have to be all the time, there’s freedom. This freedom and relying on the road brings more of a sense of self that’s far more difficult to explore at home. To be lost in nowhere with anywhere to go, the only thing you have is a sense of security in yourself.
Fear and the unknown
Frank Herbert, in his epic novel Dune, said: “fear is the mind killer.” Fear is certainly something to be aware of. When it comes to hitching, I feel people are more afraid of the unknown. To embrace this fear, to embrace the unknown, is so profoundly liberating it is hard to comprehend.
Once you’ve conquered the fears of not knowing where you’re headed, where you’re sleeping, where the next meal is coming from, who you’re going to meet (the list is endless), you find freedom. Overcoming these fears takes time, but it means you can focus everything else, like living life free or finding out someone you’ve known for ten minutes resonates completely with your being. And that leads nicely into the next point…
Endless wonderful people
People who travel have such unique ways of looking at life. It’s beautiful to instantly resonate with another person when the topic of travel arises.
While hitching, I’ve met the most diverse and eclectic bunch of people. It can change in seconds as one driver leaves and another pulls in. Once you embrace the fact that not everyone is out to get you, you can really relax and enjoy the conversation.
I love everyone I meet on the road, drivers or otherwise. Where else are you going to get a generations-old recipe for homemade moonshine crash course in ten minutes as you’re headed to West Virginia? Where else will you aim to stay a night but end up in a punk house for two weeks? When else will you unintentionally end up at two Grateful Dead shows with your new friends? The road provides endless possibilities of meeting wonderful people, even for just a fleeting moment.
Faith in the road
This is more existential, but hitchhiking makes me believe in something greater than ourselves. When you’ve been stuck in heat for two hours and every car that manages to find its way towards you passes, all hope is gone… it’s easy to commit yourself to negative thoughts. Then, suddenly, out of nowhere in rolls a driver and you’re off.
Have faith in the universe; the universe provides.