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I know what most people think about hitchhiking: “I don’t wanna give a lift to a total stranger, they might try to rob or even kill me!!!” or “I would never get into a stranger’s car. Maybe they’ll rob me or drive me to a strange place and kill me.” Yeah, I don’t blame you if you have the same thoughts, we live in a society that tries to scare the hell out of us. But I’d rather think that not everybody out there is a dangerous person. I like to think that there are good people out there and that they are the vast majority.
So I started reading about hitchhiking and talking with people who had already done it. The more I read and talked, the more I wanted to do it. I didn’t want to get chained to buses/trains/flights timetables, I needed the freedom to decide wherever and whenever I’d go next, I wanted to have stories to tell, I wanted to hear someone else’s stories and hitchhiking would allow me that. Imagine that, you’ll get into a car and you have only a couple of hours, maybe less than this and you might never see this person again. So you wonder: why did they pick me up? Why are they going there? Where did they come from? …
Hitchhiking in the UK
When I was about to go to the UK I thought that I could start giving it a chance there. Unfortunately it was a short trip so I planned to hitchhike only one day, in order to see how things would go. There was a really good spot in Sheffield, where I could get only drivers going to Manchester and I thought this would be the perfect place to start.
I was couchsurfing in Sheffield and my host surprised me by telling that the good spot I’d seen on hitchwiki, was located within a walking distance from her place. Coincidence? A hell of a good start. Ellie walked with me to the spot and there I was, sign ready, thumbs up, all excited to be doing it for the first time, and a bit scared, of course.
After a few minutes, some cars passed by and most of the drivers would wave to me or return the thumb up. Especially when waiting too long, it really helps when drivers interact with you, it makes you wonder which one will be the one who will communicate and actually stop.
Thankfully, I didn’t wait long this day and after exactly 9 minutes a car stopped. Will was driving a blue Volkswagen and told me that he wasn’t going to Manchester but he could drop me quite close from there. Born in Gales, Will had spent a few days with his girlfriend in Sheffield and was now heading back home. While he drove us through the Snake Pass, completely painted on white by the snow, he told me that he used to hitchhike when he was young and now he tries to help hitchhikers whenever he’s able to. We talked a lot and after a while we found out that we both were software developers once (by that time I was working as a kitchen-porter and he was working in different jobs, studying HTML5 in order to get back to IT.).
He dropped me even closer to Manchester than I expected ( I had to walk only 15 minutes and was in the city centre) and went back to his original route. I was very happy that my first attempt had worked just fine and started looking forward to doing it again. That lead me to a hitchhiking experience throughout Ireland and later on, around Europe. I am now trying to get back to it here in Brazil and have already done it once with my brothers.
Are you still unsure whether or not you should hitchhike? Read this post from Hitch-Hikers’s handbook
What about you? Would you pick up someone as a driver? Or would you rather be a hitchhiker?