How to hitchhike, should be the first question on your mind before actually stepping into the hitchhiking world. You have to know whether you are really fit (both mentally and physically) before starting this journey.
Although hitchhiking may seem really easy if you only think of it as an idea but when you get started with it. It turns out into something really more complicated than you imagined.
As a hitchhiker, you totally rely on the kindness of others for the most part. Like getting around the country by asking for lifts and maybe sometimes food and shelter too. But you have to remember that there is a difference between a hitchhiker and a beggar. So you can only ask a person for a favor once unless you know them or they seem kind enough to help you out on more than one matter.
In addition to this, you have to be mentally prepared for the let downs you will encounter. You have to assume that you will run out of money and favors eventually and will have to do small jobs (in a longer hitchhiking period) at various places to collect enough money to move onto the next part of the journey. The most important thing while hitchhiking has to be the planning.
You need to set up a sound plan, which includes all the costs (of eating, traveling, and shelter), and also includes a map of the places and routes you are about to take and a time period of the hitchhike journey. It doesn’t matter if the time you are planning to hitchhike is a week or a couple of years. You just have to note it down on a piece of paper or rather a diary with all the expenses per place also included in that.
Here’s a checklist for hitchhikers.
Things to carry before hitchhiking begins.
1 – A big travel bag (large duffle bag, suitcase or backpack)
Any kind of big bag will do essentially, but you need something that you can carry easily and fits all your necessary items in it.
Everyone has a different opinion for what is the best travel bag, but you have to keep in mind while selecting a bag that it is spacious, lightweight, easy to carry and durable (because you don’t want to spend unnecessary cash on buying a new bag while hitchhiking).
Check out some bags here.
2 – A map of the places you want to go on this hitchhiking journey
If you are a new hitchhiker and don’t know How to hitchhike, Before traveling to anywhere unknown you obviously need a map of that place. Similarly, before starting the hitchhiking journey you need a map that show your exact hitchhiking trip starting to finish. Like the pirates used ti do in the old days, you can actually cross off the destinations you have visited along with little dates to help you remember the routes of your trip. Yes, you can use mobile map app for this too but its better to have a physical map at hand also.
So that even if you run out of battery in the middle of a dessert you can still see where you are headed and what is the best route there. A map will also help you decide which places to go. And while making the decision you should actually check online whether the place you want to visit is kind towards wandering strangers or not. This will help you pick the right places for your journey.
Hint: It is better to pick places with a lot of tourism, it can help you get shelter and a small job if needed.
3 – A travel log (which keeps all the dates and places in order)
Crossing places on a map with a date is good enough but you also need something more concrete which helps you make future decisions on a hitchhiking trip. A travel log is a basically a diary of your travels, You can noted down any mesmerizing travel moment in it . But more importantly, you can note down the amount of cash you have spent in a day, month, or week. Also, when did you first start your hitchhiking tour, when you plan to finish it and how many days in theory do u want to spend at a particular location.
For the people who don’t know How to hitchhike a travel log helps track down the cost of every specific item like food, or shelter or water etc. It is a good practice to note down every single penny you spend on a hitchhiking journey in your travel log. As for any hitchhiker, saving money is the primary goal alongside of living carefree. So that you have enough money to keep exploring new places.
4 – Extra batteries for any devices you want to carry (phone, laptop, camera)
Extra batteries are compulsory if you need to stay at any place for more than a day. Heavy cellphone users know this fact and you can usually see them carrying a powerbank. If you are hitchhiking its better to stay prepared for a power outage doomsday scenario. Which most likely wouldn’t happen but what is likely to happen is that you will not be able to find a power source sometimes. So its better to stay prepared so that all your hand held devices are charged even when there is no electric outlet near you.
You will most likely need power for three things; phone, laptop, camera. A decent power bank can power all of these . If you have more electronics at hand while traveling just put them all on a bed or a table and figure out how many of them can you charge using a powerbank and what other electronics need separate batteries. And make the decision based on that, if more of your items are charging via powerbank then get your self a powerbank with more capacity. Which can be a bit expensive or you can make a power bank yourself too.
5 – Some extra cash (safety cash which you will not use unless you are dying of hunger)
Its better to stay prepared for any kind of emergencies. Although you will begin your journey with some amount of cash which can take you to starting 2 or 3 places on your travel map and you will figure out what to do from there on your own. But its very important that you have a secret compartment in your travel bag or your clothing somewhere which has a bit of extra cash rolled up there.
Hopefully, you will never need to even pull this money out. This is only for the most difficult situations like if you haven’t eaten for days , or you have a medical emergency, or no place to stay while its snowing. Other than these kind of situations better to forget about your extra cash. As it will save your life some other day.
6 – Water Bottles and canned food
Carry at least a 2 litre filled water bottle with you in your travel bag at all times. This is some life saving water, that will help at many occasions in your hitchhiking journey. When ever you can find free safe drinking water just refill your bottle there, this will make sure you have fresh water to drink for atleast 2 days (as most humans can survive on one litre water a day). Besides water try to carry 2 or 3 cans of food with furthest expiry date you can find. Food might come and go, and like water its best to keep at least 2 days of food in stock in your back pack (only two or three cans should do).
7 – Clothing and blanket
For a hitchhiker who doesn’t know properly How to hitchhike, proper clothing is key to survival. As you will never know what kind of weather will hit you like rain, snow or a storm. Its better to be equipped with clothing for the worst scenarios possible. Always carry both warm and light clothes and also some water proof clothing as well.
If your travel bag is not water proof best to keep a large enough plastic bag with you that can cover your bag so that everything inside stays protected. Apart from this if you have enough room its also generally a good idea to keep a roll up sleeping bag with you . So that you can get a good sleep where ever, when ever.
For people who don’t know How to hitchhike, hitchhiking is a fun activity but there are some dangers involved too. In any situation always keep emergency services and some of your emergency contacts on speed dial, and don’t be afraid to use them.
The people you are hitchhiking with or the people you might be staying with even for a short time should be thoroughly examined before asking them for something or even offering them something. Generally, judging people is a bad thing. But if you are a hitchhiker who totally depend upon the generosity of others, Judging them before approaching can be a life saver.
Try to hear every single word they are saying and what they want in return. Mostly people will be very hesitant to help a stranger, which is common and these type of people need some convincing that you are not a bad person and then they might help you. Some people offer help straight out of the box, which is okay too. But if someone is trying to offer you more help than you require and trying to push you into accepting their offer. Don’t take it , it doesn’t matter if you have to sleep on the street for a day or two. Stay away from any sign of danger.
And if you feel like you are being followed someplace try to investigate on your own first what the matter is before calling the cops. Many accidents have happened in the past because people weren’t too observant of their surroundings. And in reality, if you have no idea on how to hitchhike then apart from reading this article, try to contact and friend you know might have hitchhiked before and ask about their experience. They can actually help you by telling what not to do while hitchhiking and what places or areas not to visit.
If you don’t know How to hitchhike then apart form all the above things the most important thing while hitchhiking is keeping a cool head.
Difficulties will come every now and then but the only thing that can ruin your adventure is your attitude towards those difficulties.
Always stay mentally prepared for the worst and the best. And while engaging with people asking them for favors and rides always keep a smile on your face and friendly sportsman type attitude. Which is essentially thinking to yourself that no matter if this guy does not help you… Someone else might.
People generally like to get involved with those who are not clingy or needy and have a calm and positive personality. If you have a welcoming personality people will help you out a lot while hitchhiking and that is the key for a successful hitchhiking journey, meeting good people and making new friends.
Here is some of the equipment mentioned above along with somethings that we did not mentioned. Check this equipment out, and if you are planning on hitchhiking or even camping these things can help you with a memorable experience.