Hitchhiking Month celebration in July is an opportunity to go back to one of the oldest means of traveling. You honor this method by asking strangers to help you get to your destination. However, be aware that it may not be the safest option in some countries, so consider that when you decide to hit the road and rely on the kindness of strangers. Hitchhiking can teach us a lot including trusting people, learning from those different from us, understanding one another, and enjoying the journey with new friends. So, let’s dive into the history of hitchhiking to understand how important of a movement it is for traveling now and in the past.
History of Hitchhiking Month
Looking up the definition of hitchhiking, you will get different variations of the same basic concept; the act of traveling by asking others to drive you or by standing by the side of the road and holding out your thumb, signaling that you need a ride.
For nomads, hitchhiking was, and still is, their primary mode of transportation to better parts of a country. This inspiration spread out from nomads to millions of people around the world. However, unfortunately, although some people succeeded, some ended up in dangerous situations. In truth, increasing crime rates made the age-old act of hitchhiking decline in popularity in recent years. Nonetheless, in some communities, it is the only option of travel they can afford.
Naturally, climbing into a stranger’s car has not always been such a gamble. Society has embraced hitchhiking for years. In the U.S., it is still a popular means of transport, especially for the poorer, less privileged members of society. But many young people and backpackers have tried to reignite this tradition, although it’s not always permitted. For example, hitchhiking is not illegal in most states of the U.S., but this isn’t the case for parts of Italy and the United Kingdom, for instance.
Gypsies, nomads, and tramps have hitchhiked across the U.S. for centuries, and have been honored in books and films as a celebration of being free from society’s constraints and the mundane pressures of life. Think about the movie “Into the Wild” and the book “Driving with Strangers” for example. And in 2020, Americans nominated July as the Hitchhiking Month through social media and other online platforms.
Hitchhiking Month timeline
In New Jersey, a hitchhiker is captured and imprisoned, making the American Civil Liberties Union intervene to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States.
During the Vietnam War, drivers start tapping on the vehicles’ roofs to inform hitchhiking soldiers that their vehicle is at full capacity.
Sean Penn’s film, “Into the Wild,” premieres as a celebration of the life of Christopher McCandless, a young graduate who renounced his possessions and hitchhiked across America.
A national report states that since the 1970s, there has been a decrease in hitchhiking in the United States, which has been attributed to lower air travel costs, a better economy, and more reliable cars.
Hitchhiking Month becomes an online movement and is established to honor the act of traveling in cars with strangers.
Hitchhiking Month FAQs
Which country is best for hitchhiking?
Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Albania, and Romania are the best places to stick out your thumb for a ride. Hitchhiking is also gaining some popularity in the U.S.
Is hitchhiking popular in Europe?
Yes, hitchhiking is popular throughout Europe; you can get a ride almost anywhere and everywhere. In Germany, for example, it happens extremely fast.
Is there an app for hitchhiking?
Of course, there is. Sidecar is a new Android app that debuted in San Francisco in 2012. It allows users to hail nearby strangers, who may offer to donate money to the driver at the end of the journey.
Hitchhiking Month Activities
Hitchhike to work
As a change of pace, hitchhike to work one morning to experience the thrill of relying on a stranger to get to your destination. Think of it as a free Uber, unless said stranger is the kind that asks you to help pay for gas. You’ll make new friends and possibly repay them one day. Please exercise caution to avoid any danger. Be aware of your surroundings and tell a friend where you are going.
Give a stranger a ride
Every morning, you see them on the way to work, people standing next to the road or at bus stops needing to reach their destinations. Why don’t you pull over and offer someone a ride to their work or the grocery store? Random acts of kindness are highly favored and can come back to reward you down the line. However, again, please exercise caution. Make sure you can seek help or stop next to the road for assistance if you pick up someone who becomes volatile or dangerous while in transit. Safety first.
Sponsor someone’s trip
Find out if any young people in your community want to hitchhike to travel the country and offer to pay for their trip, so they don’t have to go out of their way to find reliable strangers and safe routes. In a way, you are still giving them freedom, just like hitchhiking, just with some more stability and financial assistance — no harm in helping someone see their country.
5 Essential Hitchhiking Tips
Offer to pay for gas
Upon entering their car, offer your driver some cash to pay for the gas as a sign of goodwill.
Someone has offered to help you get to where you need to be, probably for free, so treat them with kindness and be a polite guest.
Travel with a sign
Telling people what your destination is before they stop to help you is a great way to find someone traveling the same way.
Speak to people at gas stations
Get some information from the locals and find the best spots to look for a ride.
Pick your spot wisely
You don’t want to inconvenience anyone, so pick a spot with ample room next to the road for someone to pull over.
Why We Love Hitchhiking Month
It encourages people to travel locally
People already travel abroad to see different countries, cities, and cultures they haven’t seen before. Hitchhiking, by the same token, is a great way to discover new places you never knew existed in your backyard, i.e., the country you live in. Not to mention, of course, your country is the safest place for hitchhiking. Traveling and learning about your home is a great way to get to know communities and observe your country’s natural beauty.
It restores our faith in humanity
Yes, many people will not pull over to help strangers travel, but there are those individuals who will take the time to find out where you are going and possibly offer you a free ride. Even if it’s not free, if you pay them some money or just cover the gas bill, they will generally take care of you, which is more than enough. We love how Hitchhiking Month highlights the spirit of mutual kindness among people in a community.
Hitchhiking is making a comeback
For years hitchhiking has been declining all over the world. However, in the United States, for example, young people are doing what they can to revive it. Many young adults don’t know what they want to do after school, so they hitchhike in pairs or with a group of friends through the country or abroad. Backpacking has helped bring back this age-old tradition, giving it a popularity boost in recent years.
Hitchhiking Month dates