I recently wrote an article called “4 Reasons Why you Should Hitchhike,” because people are generally scared to try it, even with its many benefits.
Every article I read was encouraging people to not hitchhike—to get a car, stay inside the vehicle with doors locked, and to never stop or even make eye contact with strangers!
Is this our world?
But then I realized that it’s not just hitchhiking and getting rides from strange people that is scary; it’s also the drivers who are scared to pick up the hitchers.
So, I thought it was time to lay out some reasons we should pick up hitchhikers.
5 Reasons to pick up a hitchhiker:
1. Help a traveler out.
Are they wearing orange and climbing over a prison fence? Odds are, they are just a wayward traveler with good stories. You’re going the same way, why not give them a hand? Most hitchhikers, especially in Europe, are just broke backpackers, living their dream and seeing the world. Be part of their journey, and maybe both of you will make a fond memory. Traveling is my passion, and I am always willing to help someone else live theirs.
2. Save the environment.
Do you know whats better for the environment than everyone driving around in their SUVs? Taking the bus. You know what’s even better than that? Riding in a nearly empty car with someone who is going to the same place anyway. If you are worried about your carbon footprint, then pick up some hitchhikers to offset it a little. Don’t you ever get tired of people preaching about the environment and portraying themselves as some sort of climate change ambassador, and then driving home alone in their big car alone, never practicing what they preach?
3. You’ll meet someone new and interesting.
How many people in yours friend group have the guts to travel the world by thumb? Have you heard first-hand any interesting, unique or awesome travel stories lately? Do you know anyone who can leave you speechless with just part of their life story? If you answered “no,” those answers will never change if you speed by that hitchhiker, acting like you didn’t see him. I’ve met people with some insane stories that left me speechless and lost in my own thoughts and day-dreams for days.
4. Get some help to stay awake.
Going on a long, solo road trip? 1,550 people die in America each year in car accidents caused by people falling asleep at the wheel. So pick up that hitchhiker! You will then be helping someone out, saving the environment, meeting someone interesting and saving your own life. I’ve even heard about hitchhikers taking a turn behind the wheel, while the driver slept. As I said in point three, instead of going on a long road trip alone and falling asleep from sheer boredom, you can be listening to some awesome travel tales that you never even knew possible. Win-win.
5. Unload on someone.
There are certain unspoken rules that most regular hitchhikers live by. Most understand that this isn’t really a free ride. It is their duty not to just accept a free ride and fall asleep in the back seat, ungratefully. Instead, we try to pay the driver back in some way. Help them stay awake, help them with driving or navigation, telling them interesting stories or going through a barrage of questions. But sometimes, the drivers just want to do the talking. They just need a stranger to unload on, and get things off their chest. Once they learn my story and feel comfortable enough, they starting talking about how they wish the did this or that, went places, ect. A hitchhiker owes you, in a way, and is glad to be a good listener. I have friends that pay loads for this kind of therapy!
So, there you have it.
Those are the five best reasons why you should be picking up hitchhikers—and, in my opinion, any one of them is reason enough to give it a try. So go pick one up, and you might just make a lifelong friend!
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Author: Justin Carmack
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Christiaan Triebert/Flickr
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