As with everything in life, there is an element of risk. It is inherent to our nature that we want to keep ourselves out of harms way. To put ourselves in positions in which we could become hurt would work against evolution. It would means that the individuals who were most successful, would in fact die first. Thus we would be de-evolving instead.
Hitchhiking has a lot of stigma attached to it. For many people, hitchhiking is for vagrants, people without money, and occasionally, students on charity events. Around the world however, hitchhiking has began to grow in popularity once more. People are no longer limiting themselves to trains and buses in an attempt to cross land, but they are putting their trust in fellow human beings.
There is one very important fact to remember when looking at the great big scary world as a whole; it is in fact, a collection of individuals not dissimilar from you or I. People’s individual capability to do terrible things is much lower than one might expect. If you look throughout history, the worst atrocities have been committed by organisations or groups of people, not individuals. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but they are the minority.
I spent 5 months hitchhiking through Europe and got into vehicles with over 200 people. Not once did I have a problem. On my journey I met hundreds (this is not an exaggeration) of other hitchhikers from around the world. Many of them at Hitch Gathering 2012. There were people who travelled in groups and there were people who travelled alone, both male and female. All of them loved hitchhiking. If you ask any of these people if hitchhiking is dangerous, you would be met with a resounding no. The people who claim that it is, have probably never tried it.
The most dangerous part of hitchhiking is the capability of drivers. Car crashes cause a lot of deaths all over the world and this is the most likely thing that can go wrong. Bare in mind that this can happen when you are not hitchhiking.
Here are four pieces of hitchhiking advice to help keep you safe.
- Trust your instincts. If you are not comfortable getting into a vehicle, don’t do it. Say anything, make up any excuse, just walk away. You will never see the people again and your comfort and safety is more important than offending them.
- Know your boundaries. Set your rules and stick to them. If you are a lone female and you refuse to get into a car of 3 guys, just don’t do it. If you are hitchhiking with a partner, define the rules before you start so that you are on the same level.
- Stand in a clear position, away from busy roads. Don’t distract drivers and risk causing an accident. Stand where they can see you from a long way off and signal clearly. Make sure that you are in a place where they have space to slow down and pull over.
- Don’t leave your valuables unattended. Common sense, but easy to forget. Keep everything important on you at all times. Hopefully drivers don’t desire the rest of your smelly belongings.
That’s it. Some people choose to carry weapons but I think instincts and reactions work much better.
You can also read my how to hitchhike page for more hitchhiking advice. Happy hitching.