What are some tips if any for being on the road with just you and your
In case you’re wondering what the Old Hippy did during the boring 80’s, I
backpacked and hitchhiked my way around the world. I got to visit some of
the more interesting places on the hippy trail. These included Hawaii,
N.Z. Australia, Bali, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Israel, Greece, Italy,
Germany, Denmark and Sweden.
I spent many days on the road in N.Z. and Australia hitchhiking. Probably
the most difficult part of hitchin’ is keeping your spirits up while
waiting for that cool person who stops for you. Especially if the
weather’s nasty. You worry you’ll never get picked up and get stuck in the
middle of nowhere.
My way of coping with this was to put a upbeat song in my head. I remember
using Bob Marley’s Positive Vibration (hey it was the 80’s) a lot to send
out good vibes to all the drivers on the road. A real (not forced) smile
and a wave helps too. Lot’s of backpackers bring walkmans to hear their
favorite tunes, and this can be an enjoyable way to pass the time on the
side of the road.
At some point you get to pay back for those free rides when you get home
and drive around in your car. You get to be the one who does the good
deed. As you get older, you do tend to be more careful about who you give
a ride to. When I’m driving I prefer to pick up hitchhikers with large
backpacks. I realize the load they’re carrying makes it hard to walk far,
and they probably have many more valuables with them than I, so they’re the
ones taking the risk. I am more suspicious of individuals carrying nothing
hitchiking. Remember, hitchhiking has it’s dangers (see below), there are some looneys
out there so be careful.
By far the most enjoyable aspect of hitchiking (besides getting free rides)
is meeting some very interesting people. The people who are kind enough to
stop for you are the cool people. Those who pass you by are probably
uptight and dull – remember this! The most friendly country to hitchikers
for me was New Zealand. Often I would get a ride with someone who would
You in a hurry, mate?
Not really I’d reply otherwise I wouldn’t be hitchiking!
Great, he’d reply, Wanna go see an incredible place?
Sure I’d say.
Then he’d drive an hour out of his way to show me an awesome spot, and then say Since it’s too late for you to reach your destination, how about staying with me and the Misses tonight? She’s a great cook and we’ve got an extra bed! And this happened several times! I stayed in many houses in New Zealand with strangers who later became good friends.
It’s these kind of experiences that make hitchin’ a worthwhile activity.
I’ve found however that if I travel with another guy I don’t get nearly as
many rides or invites as if I’m alone or with a woman. In fact if you
travel with another person, you tend to socialize mostly with that person
and miss out on meeting other people.
You should never undertake a long journey with someone you haven’t traveled
with. You get to know someone too well when you travel together for long
periods. If your relationship hasn’t been tested, it will be. It’s way
better to meet someone on the road, and travel together for as long as it
feels good, then part when your itinerary or vibes say it’s time.
This is true freedom! This is the feeling of the open road. This is
choosing your path (day after day). This is what the hip philosophers
(esp. Kerouac) were after. Everyone should have a taste of freedom on the
road before settling down. Some people (present company included) can
never get this out of their blood.
Now times have changed since the ’80s and things are not quite the same on the road as it was then. The paranoia level of drivers and hitchhikers has gone way up, thanks to so much violence, and so many people carrying weapons, especially in the USA.
That doesn’t mean that it can’t be done, but you would have to be much more careful who you accept a ride with. And women of course are more vunerable, and probably should never hitchhike alone in the US.
Elsewhere in the world it’s also gotten to be more of a hassle, and fewer hitchhikers are seen, except for those heading for some big festival. I still see them in Europe trying to get to Glastonbury or Roskilde. The same cautions apply.
It’s really too bad because as I said before it can be a very rewarding experience and you can make so many new friends in a relative short time, and travel on a much smaller budget than any other way.
Remember if people help you, you should do something for them within
your means, or better still, do something for someone else in need.
on the good vibes!
– The Old Hippy
Posted by: skip
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