Why hitchhike alone? Most people ask me, aren’t you afraid of every possible conceivable thing that could go wrong?
It was close to midnight and I was stranded at the side of a motorway near the Austria–Hungary border. I was standing in an area for trucks to pull in and take a nap, and there wasn’t a petrol station in sight to say the least. The only other people at the spot were two Romani gypsy’s in a Spanish registered Transit van, paying me no attention.
Times like this I curse the road and wonder what I’m at in my life to be here, nowhere and down to my last cigarette.
In the pitch blackness I couldn’t see anywhere ideal to camp and I was depressed, cold and hungry. It all can change so fast though, and suddenly a gesture from another person can bring you onto a whole new high, making the stress all worth while.
I saw a Swizz registered car pull in and out gets a Hungarian looking man to take a piss, he looked in his early thirties, bald and wearing a business shirt. I make my way over.
“Excuse me but I’m trying to use autostop to go to Munich?”
“Hello, where are you from?”
“Ireland, I’m a tourist”
“Yes, Munich is no problem get in, I am driving to Zurich” .
It’s that simple really, once you remain patient even when at your limit, yet without a doubt the question I get asked most is “why?”. I guess for me there are four main reasons.
1) Saving Cash: The most obvious but not only reason, sure you save money by not needing to pay for transport and if you bring a sleeping bag you might even save on accommodation too. Whether it be sleeping in a truck or in a wilderness far from cities.
2) Meeting People: It is by far the bet method to meet locals when traveling, people who don’t intend to meet tourists and aren’t trying to sell you something. Real genuine people just going about their day who were sound enough to offer a lift.
I have learnt so much history and picked up words of the local languages from trying to string together a conversation with the driver and made many great friends, contacts to help find work and even got set-up on a date with one Serbian driver’s daughter!
3)Personal Growth: Every time you talk to a stranger you step outside your comfort zone a little.
“What if I get mugged?”.
All these new experiences meeting strange people will be pushing your fear to the limit.
This will cause change in your perception of the world, after a while standing on the side of the road with your thumb up you will eventually lose any care for what others think of you and the people you will meet along the way will restore your faith in humanity.
“I couldn’t even imagine getting mugged.”
Variety being the spice of life then you are sure to have some eventful stories to tell the grand-kids someday from the road.
Why not hit the road yourself and discover a new adventure every day?
Leave any questions about hitch-hiking in the comments section and I will be happy to reply.