Hitchhiking – Frugal Transportation or Death Wish?

During my recent hike I hitchhiked one time in order to avoid having to hike a section of trail twice. When I go hiking I often hitchhike into a town since that is usually the only way to get into town other than walking. I would guess not too many other personal finance bloggers hitchhike. It is frugal transportation since it doesn’t cost anything. People don’t usually ask or expect anything for giving you a ride. I did give one guy a little money on my own accord since it appeared that he was living in his car and probably needed the money. Most people don’t hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers since they are afraid of being raped and/or killed. That is a possibility, but I think it is unlikely. Serial is an interesting story of a killer driver picking up a killer hitchhiker that illustrates what many believe are the dangers of hitchhiking.

I’ve found that there are three types of people who will stop to pick me up. The first is older people. I think they give me a ride just because they are bored and lonely and want someone to talk to for a while. They often have pretty interesting stories and a little conversation in exchange for a ride is a pretty good trade. The second type is other hikers or relatives of hikers. People who hike understand that sometimes the only easy way to get to a town is to hitchhike and can recognize a hiker hitchhiker when they see one. I do give rides to hiker hitchhikers as a form of paying it forward for the rides I have received. The third type is poor people. I’m not sure why but the poorer a person is the more likely they are to give me a ride. These rides can be interesting since the drivers are sometimes under the influence, but I haven’t had a problem so far.

Even though hitchhiking is frugal transportation it is only something I do when I’m hiking. And I only pick up hitchhikers if they are at a trail head and I think they are hikers. I like to think that makes the process of hitchhiking safer, but I don’t really know. I think it would be interesting to hitchhike all the way across the country, but I probably won’t ever do that. Have you ever hitchhiked? Would you consider it?

17 thoughts on “Hitchhiking – Frugal Transportation or Death Wish?”

  1. Funny, how everything has changed! When I was in college (late 60s), it was very easy and relatively safe to hitchhike. One time, I remember a very rich (old money) young (early 20s) woman picked me up. She showed me where she lived because she turned into her estate when she dropped me off. I doubt if a woman would pick a up a guy anymore unless they knew each other.

    • It is unlikely that would happen now. Crime isn’t much worse now than it was in the late 60’s though. It is more of a perception that crime is much worse.

    • 🙂 I remember those good ole days. It was never relatively safe, though…we, being young and stupid, imagined it was. But it really was pretty risky, especially if you were a young woman.

  2. We only hitchhike while back backing, as well. Otherwise, we would never consider it! We don’t love anywhere near the trail, so we haven’t offered rides to hitchhikers. If we did, we would also only pick up backpackers. On our last trip, we ran out of fuel and needed to get to town. We were picked up at the trailhead by an older man and his son. They also brought us back from town. They didnt ask for payment, but we left some money in the car for them.

  3. I was never around in the days when hitchhiking was the norm. It’s always been considered dangerous, so honestly the thought has never crossed my mind.

    • If I hadn’t started backpacking I would have never considered it. Now that I’ve done it a few times and had no problems I’m considering doing it more.

  4. You’re right – it’s one of those remote possibilities that people have decided (through movies and books) is an absolute death trap. You’re probably safer picking up the hitchhiker – talking to someone helps avoid that highway hypnosis and the single car accidents that happen when people fall asleep behind the wheel, heh.

    Still, haven’t done it. Even with that knowledge, you’re a braver man than I!

  5. Semi-Demi-Exboyfriend (the famed SDXB) and I spent three months in the back country of Alaska and Canada, mostly on foot. We slept under roof two (count ’em, 2) nights, only because the rain was too much for even SDXB to cope with.

    And yes, we did hitchhike a couple of times. The first time wasn’t exactly standing by the roadside: we took the ferry up the Inland Passage and in doing so managed to snab a couple of beds in a stateroom with another couple. We hit it off with these complete strangers, who were about our age. They had a van tricked out as a camper and invited us to ride along with them. So we went quite a ways with them.

    Eventually one of their adult children called them home to deal with one of those “middle-class-kids-never-grow-up” dramas. They dropped us off at a campground and headed south. We hitchhiked into White Horse; the people who picked us up were an elderly couple who were caravanning in RVs with their relatives. After a night spent sleeping in a parking lot, we got on one of Canada’s excellent long-haul buses. That turned out to be a really cool thing to do — Canadian bus drivers do not seem to hate their jobs the way American drivers do, and they’re allowed to talk to the riders, who being Canadians generally behave themselves pretty well.

  6. I did it a few times back in the mid 70s. I would not now, and be wary of anyone. But I did this past spring…a guy I saw walking every day at the same time early morning (I guess to school or work) I gave him a ride in the snow. turns out he walked to work at the hospital. He wore a backpack and I saw him for a month or so on my way to work. I felt he was not dangerous, only didn’t have a car, or walked for the exercise. I havent’ seen him several months now, he must have a car.

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