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.
Frankly, I think that the people who romanticize hitchhiking really don’t understand the kind of risks that are involved, until they themselves have had bad experiences. Sure, most people are perfectly decent, normal and honest, but one never knows, when it comes to hitchhiking, or even picking up hitchhikers.
Hitchhiking is much more infrequent for a reason: While most people are decent, honest and normal, one never knows. Demeanors and/or first impressions can be extremely deceiving, as people with bad intentions often assume a different demeanor for the purposes of hiding their true motives, catching an unsuspecting hitchhiker off guard, and luring him/her to an isolated place to do them harm.
Frankly, I think that the people who romanticize hitchhiking really fail to understand that.
Very few people hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers any longer, due to the risks involved. One never knows who they’ll either get a ride with, or end up giving a ride to. It’s especially risky to hitchhike at night, as well.
There are still communities of tens thousands of hitchhikers across the world (you can find some online) – it is more the general public who have this misconception of the world being different and more dangerous due to sensationalist media. We have better coverage and more awareness of terrible atrocities that occur in this world, but actual crime rates in many countries are no higher than they were forty years ago (I have looked up date to back this up). It is very easy to have a nostalgic sense of the past and whilst there are many issues with the world today, I feel we generally progress in a positive directions with many blips along the way. An older gentleman reflected recently how everything used to be better in when he was young in the country that he lived in – I pointed out that it was a racially divided country and he was white, so of course it was ‘better’ for him, but not for everyone. Often these things are about perspective – similarly with hitchhiking at night. I have done so several times without an issue and I think it is mostly our perception of night that makes us afraid. If you stand on the forecourt of a service station in full light, you have the opportunity to interact with people before taking any ride.
While most people are perfectly normal and honest, there’s just no telling; the possibility of getting picked up by somebody who’s not so normal and honest while hitchhiking, or even picking up a hitchhiker who’s not so normal and honest, is very real, and that’s what makes either hitchhiking or picking up hitchhikers as risky as it is.
To each their own, Jamie, but I don’t think that hitchhiking is as common as it was during the mid to late 1960’s and the 1970’s. Hitchhiking, at least in the Boston, MA area, began to taper off during the mid to late 1970’s, when a whole slue of young women who’d hitchhiked to school, work, or wherever never made it to where they were going, and were never seen or heard from again, plus their bodies were found, often as late as many months later, in distant areas, either by the roadside(s), or in wooded areas. Boston, in fact, was in the national spotlight for a number of weeks because of all those young women who hitchhiked and were never seen alive again. This was not a made up story by the media. It was real…and rather horrific.
Prior to the deaths of all those young women, people were often seen waiting on the ramps leading down to the Mass. Turnpike (Route 90) west, often with signs for where they were headed. Not so now. I don’t go for the idea that one can immediately tell whether or not someone is normal & honest, or who has bad intentions. I believe that looks and demeanor(s) can be very deceiving, and that getting into a car with a total stranger, or picking up a total stranger is rather risky, because one is totally at the mercy of that person, and they have little or no control over the situation if it goes south, if you know what I’m saying.
Life has enough risks as it is without adding hitchhiking to it. As a woman, I have a totally different viewpoint. Most people are not in the kind of shape where they can jump out of a moving car if they have to, and it’s not an adventure if one gets into a crash and gets seriously injured or killed.
I’m only fourteen but after doing some reading and research, decided that I would love hitchhiking and definitely want it to be my main method of transportation when I travel when I’m older. However, after sharing this idea with my mom, she shot it down with “it’s illegal, and no one picks up hitchhikers anymore because there have been so many robberies, murders, and rapes related to hitchhiking”. It’s really discouraging to hear, especially since I was so set on the idea. I feel I have good intuition and common sense and wouldn’t get into a car with someone I don’t trust or seems suspicious. I feel that if I learn some basic self-defense, it could also help. Is it really that dangerous? I’m pretty sure it’s not illegal, and I would find it more enjoyable and memorable than just a bus or train.
A lot of people are afraid of hitchhiking due to the media. It is very hard to measure statistics about hitchhiking because only the bad stories hit the media. I have hitched four or five hundred rides without incident and know people who have done it much more than me. Yes, something bad could happen, but in my opinion you are far more at risk when drunk in a bar. For me it is a balance and the element of risk is outweighed by the positive experiences I have had. Hitchhiking is not for everyone, but I love it and think with common sense it is no more dangerous than many other things in life. For me, the most dangerous thing about hitching is being in a car. Cars are dangerous!
For starters, hitchhiking has never been a particularly safe place to hitchhike, due to being so gigantic and impersonal.
Secondly, there are too many guns around; far too many people have access to them and own them who really shouldn’t.
Thirdly, even though the crime rates here in the United States are down, some parts of the United States still have a higher crime rate than others.
Fourth: Hitchhiking or picking up hitchhikers is risky, because one never knows who they’re riding with, or who they may be picking up.
Fifth: It’s too unpredictable. One never knows if somebody is drugged out, drunk, criminally disposed, not in their right mind, or just plain careless behind the wheel of their car.
Sixth: I’m of the belief that at least when somebody’s in a bar, nightclub, a dance hall, a party, or at somebody’s house, there’s always the possibility of leaving quickly and/or calling for help. When one is in a car or other enclosed vehicle with a complete stranger, however, one is in a vulnerable position because they’re totally at the mercy of that person, with no control over what may happen if the situation begins to go south, if one gets the drift.
Seventh: What you’ve pointed out about being in a car while hitchhiking is exactly what I’ve been pointing out all along; there are still a lot of irresponsible drivers out there, which is what makes hitchhiking as dangerous and risky as it is.
The United States has never, ever been a particularly safe place to hitchhike, largely because it’s so big and impersonal, and people often tend to act viciously towards each other.
Ok mplo, we get it. You think hitchhiking is too dangerous to undertake. I don’t even disagree with you, but after the first couple of replies you should’ve realized that you’re not gonna convince Jamie or anyone else set on doing it to change their minds. No need to be obnoxious about it.
There’s just absolutely nothing heroic whatsoever about either hitchhiking or picking up a hitchhiker. When a person either accepts a ride with a complete stranger or lets a complete stranger into his/her car, s/he puts him/herself in an extremely vulnerable position, with few options, if any, for self-protection, be it mental or physical, or of calling for help, if the situation goes south, if one gets the drift. There are enough other risks in life as it is, without adding the risk(s) that’re involved when one is in an enclosed vehicle with a total stranger who one doesn’t know from a hole in the ground.
Hitchhiking as a means of transport is riddled with problems even before you get to the dangers and I have never seen the appeal of hitchhiking. I will look in depth at the problems you face when hitchhiking. When hitchhiking you are dependent on strangers being willing to give you a lift and you have to rely on luck. A major problem with hitchhiking is that you may not find anyone willing to give you a lift. People may be reluctant to give lifts due to the risk of letting a complete stranger in their car. A road might be busy with nowhere to pull over and drivers might not want to stop because they will hold up the traffic. It has been suggested that people should not hitchhike alone for safety but this could work against you because solo drivers would worry that people in groups could easily overpower them. You could find yourself trying to catch a lift when the traffic on the road is quiet which reduces the chance of picking up a lift. What happens if you don’t get a lift, yours plans are dependent on getting a lift and you have no alternative means of getting to your destination? There is a possibility that someone could offer you a lift but you are uncomfortable and refuse the lift. There could be various reasons for this. The driver might give a bad vibe or there may be more than one person in the vehicle and you feel this is risky as this makes it easier for you to be overpowered. If you have difficulty finding a lift you are in a beggars can’t be choosers situation and may have no choice to get in a vehicle you are not completely comfortable with. If you turn down lifts there is a danger the driver will become angry they have pulled over, offered you lift only to be turned down. A driver may only be able to take you part of the way to your destination.
You have found someone to pick you up and get in their vehicle. The issue is that you have total strangers travelling together who know absolutely nothing about each other and the if the hitchhiker or driver is dangerous eg the driver/hitchhiker has criminal convictions there is no way to know this. Once the vehicle has set off, you can’t get out of the vehicle until the driver decides to stop which means you are completely at the mercy of the driver and you are in a vulnerable position. If things get nasty, jumping out of the vehicle is too dangerous particularly at high speed. The driver could take you to a remote location to do harm. If you pick up someone, you as the driver are vulnerable because you are driving in a closed moving space with someone sitting right next to you which makes it very easy for the hitchhiker to attack you. The driver might not take you to your destination and could take you anywhere. You would be completely powerless to stop the driver if this happened. The driver could drop you somewhere isolated you are not familiar with and leave you stranded.
These are all valid points, but I think for most people who hitchhike (myself included) it is the free-spirited feeling and wonderful, fleeting connections that you make with strangers that keep us on the side of the road. I have hitched four or five hundred rides and never had any major difficulties. I often carry a tent and sleeping bag, meaning that I can sleep anywhere, and I use my instincts when it comes to taking a ride or not. There are inherent risks in hitchhiking, but there are also inherent risks in life, so I think it is a balance to find what we are comfortable with. I appreciate that many people would not be comfortable hitchhiking, but there are also many who see it as a way of life.
When hitchhiking how do you decide whether to take a lift from someone. For instance, would you only go into a vehicle with one occupant as you have a better chance of defending yourself if the driver turned nasty. Have drivers become irate if you have turned down lifts.
Do you have a back up plan if you dont get a lift.
I trust my instincts, but I don’t have strict rules on the number of occupants. And I never get into a car before I am happy with who I am getting into the car with – I always have a conversation through the window first. There is always an excuse you can give if you don’t want to get into a car with someone (just make anything up) and I haven’t ever had anyone get angry with me for turning down a lift. If they did get angry for this, it would be more reason not to get into the car with them in the first place. If I don’t get a lift, I sleep in my tent / hammock and sleeping bag.
You’ve made some excellent points that make great, good sense, Ian. They’re well taken, to boot. Getting into an enclosed vehicle with a complete stranger is risky enough as it is, despite the fact that most people are perfectly normal and honest, but getting into an enclosed vehicle with more than one occupant is especially risky, particularly if one or more of them turns out to be dangerous, because all it takes is a minority of people, generally, to instigate and get others to follow suit, if one gets the drift.
With hitchhiking, there really is no kind of back-up if one fails to get a lift, either, and a driver’s getting teed-off if turned down for a lift can add to already existing risks of hitchhiking.
A hitcher takes a lift from someone who is driving alone thinking he is safe but there is a possibility the driver will stop and pick up friends and the hitcher finds himself/herself in a car with multiple occupants.
You’ve made some excellent points about hitchhiking and/or picking up hitchhikers that make great, good sense and that are well taken, Dyncmraeg. Well said. Thanks.
Here’s a suggestion to all you hitchhiking advocates:
If YOU wish to keep taking stupid, asinine risks to your freedom, safety, and your limbs and live, that’s YOUR business! Just don’t try to suck other people (myself included), who are NOT willing to be that stupid! Thanks!!
I’m a 22y/o, 5’6″ girl and I’ve hitchhiked only 7 times in total while travelling – in Belgium, Myanmar and Malaysia. Each time I met interesting, nice people and had some great conversations. Nice memories and a free ride within 5 minutes! I had fun and I’d like to do it again — within certain boundaries.
However, there is definitely an element of risk involved, especially solo as I’m very aware I’m easily overpowered as a small woman. Every other hitcher I’ve ever met (well ok all 6) has been a man. 99.9% of people are good, but if something goes wrong you’re completely powerless, and backing off a lift if someone gives you a bad vibe isn’t totally guaranteed. I’d be pretty selective about when and where if I did it again – I feel fairly safe in western Europe (home turf effect maybe), but I’d never hitch in the States – too many guns floating around. I’d like to try it here in Australia (because this country is bloody expensive!), but only with a male friend as the large distances make it hard to escape. There was also this case recently which gave me the heebie-jeebies.
I guess my point (if there is one amidst the rambling) is that in hitching, as in life, openness can bring a good experience but you’re also vulnerable to a bad one. When you make hitching your only option is when things could get dicey, I’d always want the security of a backup plan and cash.
Elana: A number of the points that you’ve made in your post are precisely the points that I’ve been trying to drive home to everybody here on this board. Maybe some places are safer for hitchhiking than others, but, as far as I can see, the United States has never been a particularly safe place to hitchhike because of some of the reasons that you’ve mentioned. The United States is too gun-happy, and it’s come home to roost…in many more ways than one, but that’s another issue for another day, if one gets the drift. I also believe that the element of risk that you’ve mentioned and that I’ve also been trying to point out on this board is one of the biggest, if not the biggest reason that there’s not nearly as much hitchhiking here in the United States as there once was (i. e. back in the 1960’s and the 1970’s, for example): While most people are perfectly normal and honest, the risk of getting picked up by, or picking up somebody who’s NOT so normal and honest is still there.
Here in the Boston, MA area, back in the early 1970’s, a number of young women ranging in ages from their late teens to early 20’s disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again, after they’d been hitchhiking to school or work, or whoever. Their bodies turned up in very distant places, in wooded areas or by the roadside. The body of one of these young women was found nailed to a wall in a Roxbury (a section of Boston) apartment. This grisly overall scenario was rather tragically played out once again, in the Alberta, Canada area, back in 2005. Two girls, aged 16 and 19 (The 19 year old had a young son), who’d decided to hitchhike home from a party they’d been invited to went missing, and were never seen alive again. Their skulls were found by a camper in that general vicinity.
I’ll also add, however, that there’s more to it than meets the eye when it comes to hitchhiking. Most of the bad incidents (i. e. the car crashes, robberies, assaults, etc., ) fail to make the papers or the evening news. I admittedly did some occasional hitchhiking myself (I’m a 5′ 6″ woman, of medium build.), but after having a couple of weird experiences in which the guys who picked me began with benevolent enough conversation, and their talk sliding into sexual innuendoes and overtones, I decided to get out right then and there. Those two weird experiences (which I thought had the potential for developing into something more sinister.), plus the reading/hearing about all the young women here in the Boston area who were brutally murdered while hitchhiking to school or classes, and about two teenaged boys from the same suburban high school that I’d attended back in the mid to late 1960’s being taken to a very secluded area by two men in their 20’s who’d been drinking but didn’t seem hostile, and physically attacked (One of the guys received a concussion due to being hit over the head with a blunt, heavy instrument, and the other one almost got mowed down by their attackers’ car while running to get help.), that finished hitchhiking for me, completely.
That’s great that you had positive experiences, Elana. And important, as you say, to retain your vigilance for both your safety and your peace of mind. I have never (and never will be able to) tried hitchhiking as a 5’6″ female, which I am sure must offer a different experience from my own. Even as a guy, I have turned down lifts when the driver has made me feel uncomfortable.
The first time I ever hitchhiked, it was part of a sponsored charity hitchhike from UK to Morocco and pretty much the only rules were that we had to hitch in groups of 2-3 with at least one male in each group. A couple of hundred of us made the journey and had a great time when we all arrived in Morocco.
I frankly don’t see anything romantic about hitchhiking, despite the fact that it seems that so many posters here on this board romanticize it, and that it’s romanticized in movies, books and popular culture, generally. Sure, you’ve all met some lovely, nice people while hitchhiking, but who’s to say that they’d be so lovely the next time you met them? There’s nothing romantic about getting into a car with, or picking up a complete stranger, either. Just because most people get assaulted by others that’re known to them (i. e. family members, friends, acquaintances), doesn’t mean that there aren’t dangerous strangers out there in their cars. There are enough crazy, dangerous mofos out there in their cars so that it presents a problem.
Each individual has their own experiences of different events in life. For me, hitchhiking was special because it restored my faith in humanity. What started as a short hitchhiking holiday into Europe turned into a journey that made me believe in the inherent good of humans in this world and changed the way I live my life. Others may not have the same experiences, but for some of us, hitchhiking experiences have been important to us as people. I wouldn’t advocate for everyone to try it, because some people would not enjoy the experience, but hitchhiking has been (and no doubt will again be) an important part of my life. There are bad people out there, but trusting blindly in strangers and finding kindness washed away all the horrible news stories and scaremongering that I have encountered in the media.
Different people have different experiences, that’s true. I see absolutely nothing heroic or romantic or sensible, however, about supposedly increasing one’s faith in humanity by getting into a car with and accepting a ride from, or giving a ride to a complete stranger, either, no matter where in the world one is.
To dismiss stories that one reads about in the paper or hears about on the news, thereby minimizing the risks involved with hitchhiking, imho, is folly. If the media didn’t expose grisly incidents like the ones mentioned to the public and thereby making people aware of the risks of hitchhiking, it wouldn’t be doing its job. Just because the bad and/or dangerous people out there aren’t in the majority doesn’t mean that they don’t present a problem and a risk.
Imho, there are other, safer ways to restore faith in humanity. You’ve done a great deal of hitchhiking with no bad luck. Who’s to say that your luck won’t run out on you one day, you get picked up by some really careless, drunk or drugged-out, dangerous, or crazy person, get into a crash and either get permanently maimed or killed, or be driven to a lonely, isolated place, and be robbed, assaulted, or possibly worse? The point I’m making is that when one gets into a car with a complete stranger, or picks up a complete stranger, one is totally at the mercy of that person, with little or no control over what may happen.
The fact that so few people do hitchhike these days says something right there: It’s too risky, which is why most people don’t do it any more.
Frankly, I think that the attitude towards hitchhiking on this and other boards that advocate hitchhiking is way too flippant…and dismissals of the risks of hitchhiking. Look at Highway 16 in Canada’s British Columbia (aptly named the “Highway of Tears”), due to a whole slue of girls and young women that have gone missing and turned up dead while hitchhiking. Because the small towns are so far apart from each other, and because there’s no kind of public transportation (no trans, buses or anything), and the lack of car ownersbip or money.) has put these girls and women in a position where they have no choice but tu hitchhike to get from one place to another. B. C.’s Route 16 or “Highway of Tears” has beautiful Canadian wilderness, but is dangerous at night, for obvious reasons, and despite a big sign warning woman and girls not to hitchhike, they still do it. Hopefully, Highway 16 will be having bus service by the end of this year, however.
It’s one thing to meet somebody at a dance, a party, or even a bar or nightclub. There’s always the option of ducking out, leaving quickly and/or calling for help if a situation turns nasty. Getting into a car with or picking up a total stranger, however, is a completely different matter: Options for fleeing or even calling for help are seriously curtailed when in a car with a total stranger.
Back in the spring of 1972, three years after I graduated from high school (Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School), two teenaged couples who attended that same high school, and were out on a late Saturday night/Sunday morning date decided to hitchhike home. The two men who picked the teenagers up were clearly intoxicated, but did not seem hostile. The two girls were let off first, but then things took a nasty turn: The teenaged boys were taken to a secluded area near the Lincoln-Waltham line, and were physically attacked by the men who’d picked them up. One of the boys received a concussion due to being hit over the head with a blunt, heavy instrument. The other almost got mowed down by their attackers’ car while they were escaping and running away to get help. Not a good scene, at all.
That is a sad story and bad things can happen. As with all situations in life, it is very difficult to know whether or not to trust people, but over my four or five hundred hitchhiking lifts, I have only met lovely people thus far, and I hope that many others experience the same level of pleasantness that I have found.
Hi, Jamie. Thanks again for your understanding where I’m coming from. I’m glad you’ve met some great, good people while hitchhiking, but the fact that most people are perfectly normal, honest and okay doesn’t negate the fact that the risks involved in hitchhiking are still there. I still believe that hitchhiking is too risky, because one never knows if they’ll get picked up by somebody with bad intentions (like the guy who picked up all those female hitchhikers and deliberately killed then.), is either drugged-out or drunk, is really not in their right mind, or is just plain careless behind the wheel of a car. Also, looks and behavior can be quite deceiving, because people with bad intentions often put on a facade that’s quite different than their personality in order to lure somebody into being harmed. The grisly scenario played out in the Boston area back in the early 1970’s was rather tragically played out once again in the Alberta, Canada area roughly ten years ago, when two young gals, one nineteen-year-old with a young son, and a girl who’d just turned 16, who’d been invited to a party, decided to hitchhike home. That was the last time either of them were seen alive. Afew years later, sometime in 2011, their skulls were found by a camper at a nearby campsite and identified by local authorities.
Even though I’ve never had super-awful things happen when I’ve hitchhiked, I had a couple of somewhat creepy experiences that I felt had the potential for turning into something more serious, and built my resolve not to hitchhike any more. In both instances, the guys who picked me up started out with benevolent conversation, but when their talk slid into sexual innuendos (I’m a woman, btw), and/or their talk took on sexual overtones, I decided to get out.
The most important thing is to do what you feel comfortable with. I would never advocate someone to try hitchhiking if they were not comfortable with it. Also, as a male, I immediately have a different mindset when hitchhiking, but my main reason for continuing to do it is a calculated risk – for me, the fun and experiences that I have, outweigh the danger. Nearly 17 million people died from heart disease during 2002 (most recent data I could find), which could, in part, be attributed to sugar consumption and lack of exercise.. This is something many of us are guilty of, but we continue with our bad habits, because the outcome is far less scary than the thought of being murdered and dumped in a ditch. Please know that this is not a disagreement with your comment, simply an explanation of why I hitchhike. I am drinking a hot chocolate as I type!
I honestly don’t know where so many people believe that hitchhiking is like crossing the street, or constantly bring up the typical non-sequitur of “Well, more people get assaulted, raped and/or murdered by family members, etc., than by strangers” into this subject, when others, including myself, state that the risks of being robbed, assaulted, seriously injured, or worse, while hitchhiking, are not only there, but very real, to boot. The nutcase and creeps who are out there in their cars do not have to be in the majority to present a problem. What is there not to get? Beats me!
As somebody who occasionally hitchhiked back in the early to mid-1970’s, I stopped hitchhiking, because I decided that it was too risky, after reading/hearing about a whole slew of young women ranging in age from their late teens to their mid-twenties hitch-hiking, being picked up, and their bodies found along the roadside(s) in different, distant places.
Three years after I graduated from high school, two teenaged couples, out on a late Saturday-night/Sunday morning date were hitch-hiking, and were picked up by two men in a pick-up truck who were obviously intoxicated, but didn’t seem unfriendly. Things took a nasty turn, however, after the girls were dropped off first. The men in the pick-up truck took the two boys to a secluded place near the Lincoln-Waltham line (In MA), and attacked them. One of the boys received a concussion due to being hit over the head with a blunt, heavy instrument. The other one almost got mowed down by their attackers’ car while running away to get help.
Back in the mid-1970’s, two young college guys who’d spent some time in the now-non-existent Boston’s Combat Zone, hitch-hiked, and were picked up by two rough-and- tough guys from South Boston, who brutally murdered them.
Having said all of the above, I don’t advocate hitch-hiking anymore, because, while most people are perfectly normal and honest, there’s really no telling who one might get picked up by, because there are people with bad intentions who are out and around. Most of the incidents (i. e. the accidents, sexual assaults, and the serious injuries/homicides, etc.) fail to make the newspapers or the evening news.
Also, hitch-hiking is way different than going to a bar, a night-club, a dance or even a party. At least in these particular situations, one can always duck out and leave quickly, if things begin to get dicey. Getting into a car with a complete stranger, on the other hand, is more risky, because one is totally at the mercy of that person(s), and therefore has little or no control over what may happen.
At the risk of sounding like an old prude, I just had to have my say. Thanks for letting me.
I think it’s important to have an opinion and to do what you are comfortable with. And I know many of my friends would not be happy with hitchhiking. I hitchhike because it is a way for me to travel without needing vast sums of money and over the past few years, I have probably had 500 or so lifts, and never had a problem. However, I have turned lifts down if the driver gives me a bad vibe. There definitely is a risk of bad things happening, but my most dangerous experience thus far was probably when I was driving to the local shops, five miles away, and a car was overtaking badly, forcing me to come off the road. I narrowly missed a tree and ended up in a field. I suppose I hitchhike as it is a fast track to positive experiences that I want to have, meaning that I don’t have to work as much to get those experiences.
Hi, Jamie. Thank you for your poignant reply, and for understanding where I’m coming from, on this subject. Even though you still advocate hitch-hiking, you seem to have a sensible approach. Turning down a lift if a driver gives you a bad vibe makes a lot of sense, and you keep yourself safe that way.
Sorry to hear about that car overtaking you and forcing you off the road. You’re lucky you only ended up in a field, rather than going off a steep embankment or whatever. Glad you’re okay, however.
That bunch of young women who were brutally murdered and then dumped along the roadside(s) in distant places occurred here in the Boston area, which received national attention for a really long time due, at least in part, to all those young women who were killed while hitch-hiking. Being a woman myself, I’m a little more reluctant to go hitch-hiking, but that’s just me.
Thanks again for your reply.
I imagine it must be a different experience altogether for a woman and something I will never know. As a 6 foot tall guy who likes playing sport, although I could be overpowered, I feel comfortable enough physically to not worry about hitchhiking – I certainly do appreciate concerns that others have though.
What happened in Boston with those women is a terrible atrocity and very upsetting to hear.
Hi again, Jamie. Thanks again for understanding my reservations about hitch-hiking, and where I’m coming from on this one. These particular women that were murdered while hitch-hiking were very tough working women who knew their way around, and had it together…and where did they finally end up? Dead! It’s unfortunate. The fact that there were so many casualties in hitch-hiking is one big reason, I think, that not too many people hitch-hike any more.
Even though taking chances with getting into a car with a total stranger isn’t my cup of tea, I see where you’re coming from on this one, too, Jamie. Since you’re 6 feet tall, and very athletic, you seem like the kind of guy who could/would take care of yourself and know what to do if things really got dicey.
This is strange for me: ‘I met hundreds of other hitchhikers’. I hitched more than 20.000km this year through Europe and only saw 8 other hitchhikers ‘on the road’ in Western Europe. You have far more hitchhikers in Eastern Europe, but I didn’t meat ‘hundreds’ of them.
I’m a Belgian guy, and I saw one other guy hitchhiking the past year.
That’s not so many. I saw quite a few on the roads in the east, but the hundreds I met were at Hitch Gathering. It’s an annual festival for hitchhikers.
Many of the European countries are probably somewhat safer to hitchhike in than the United States, which ( as I’ve already pointed out, but bears repeating here), is too gun-happy, too large as a nation, and far too impersonal.
My hunch is that the United States will become even more unsafe to hitchhike in, now that Donald Trump is President.