Tell us a little about yourself and your experience hitchhiking.I first tried hitchhiking as a novel experience during university, hitchhiking 1,600 miles from Leeds (UK) to Morocco for charity. At this time, I didn't think of it as a practical means of transport, but when I tried it many years later, I soon realized that it was an efficient and low budget way of getting from place to place. During a six month journey around Europe, I hitchhiked around 23,000km (16,000 miles) through more than twenty countries. Since that extended hitchhiking journey, I have used hitchhiking as a practical, low budget method of transport whenever necessary.
Why did you decide to hitchhike?I was working as an English teacher in South Korea and I wasn't overly happy with the lifestyle I was leading or the person that I was becoming. I decided to give it all up and hit the road, trusting in the goodness of strangers. Hitchhiking seemed like an affordable way to travel long term, so I bought myself a tent and sleeping bag, then headed on my way.
One of the reasons I chose hitchhiking as a method of transport is because when you visit a place, you don't get to interact with the locals. By hitchhiking, I got to meet and interact with many locals whom I would not normally have come into contact with. This allowed me to get the feel of places from people who actually lived there, as well as insider tips on what to do.
How did you decide where to go hitchhiking?I listened to what people said, I looked at maps, and sometimes I just went wherever people were going. My route wasn't planned out and I trusted mostly in others to guide me. My path become fairly organic, changing day on day as I heard of new places to go.
Any advice on how to get drivers to pick you up?I normally stood on the road with my thumb out, the old fashioned way. A friend advised me to use a sign that said '20km' as many drivers are going 20km and it is a great way to get them to stop. This way you can find out if they are traveling in the same direction, whereas writing a specific town name causes many drivers to pass you by if they do not have the same end destination. Using the 20km sign got me rides of several hundred kilometers on multiple occasions. I have heard of other people who approach drivers at rest areas, but I prefer to let drivers come to me willingly.
There is a lot of stigma about who gets picked up easiest, but I have hitchhiked successfully alone (with and without a beard), with both females and males, as well as in larger groups of four. In Iceland, I hitchhiked with three other guys without a problem.
What kind of people picked you up?There is no stereotype, but generally the people are friendly people - all the unfriendly people pass you by. Several people invited me back to their homes and many more offered me food and drink.
During my extended Euro hitch, I received 227 rides, 172 of which were given by males, 22 by females, and 33 by vehicles that contained both males and females. Although this suggests a strong bias towards male lifts, I think the numbers are partially skewed by the fact that most truckers and long distance drivers I encountered were male.