Hitchhiking as a Legitimate Form of Transportation

Reading and participating in online travel communities, you are constantly reminded of the myriad different options there are when it comes to travel. Some use miles and points to travel more luxuriously than their budget might otherwise allow. Others stretch those same miles and points out to take as many trips as possible.

Some prefer to backpack their way around the world.

Some partake of inexpensive hostels.

Some even quit their jobs, sell almost all of their belongings and take a potentially never-ending motorcycle trip.

angelafranco has a different kind of travel dream entirely:

Thinking of hitchhiking to South America and have little to no knowledge or experience besides what I’ve been reading and researching. … It’s kind of my dream and what I want in life. I won’t have much cash and eventually will run out, so I will be penny less and hitchhiking. Was hoping to get some feedback, advice or stories.

Reminds me of this quote from Douglas Adams’ “A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”:

He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.

I’m not here to judge, but libbyh pretty much sums up my thoughts with this post:

Your ‘dream’ and ‘what you want in life’ is to be penniless and starving in South America?

Several of those posting in the thread recommend that angelafranco alter her “plan”, and to her credit angela accepts all of the advice with a good spirit. Some, however, do actually seem to believe that what she wants to do is not only achievable, but worthwhile.

I had a friend who stayed in South America for 4 months. He went penniless after 2 months but figured to find a part-time job there as a waiter and slowly he transitioned to doing social media marketing for them for 2 months. In the end, the owner of the restaurant couldn’t afford to pay him much for his work but let him stay at his family’s place until he made enough to take a flight back home ~michaeliskwizyne

The USA is the most difficult and least safe country in the world for hitchhiking. Latin America is slightly safer(for hitchhiking, not else) and slightly easier, but it ain’t a hitchhikers heaven either. Perhaps think about saving enough money for a return flight to Europe and start your hitchhiking adventure there. ~bluedanube

I did something similar & ended up having to sleep a couple of days out in the street with no money & all alone & it was not fun at all. … The trip itself was amazing. It has been one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had, but to be alone & broke far from home is not cool. I would have planned, I would have thought more long-term. Still, I learned alot from the experience. ~edmar.vazquez.5

While somewhere in the back of my mind I know hitchhiking exists, I suppose it’s something I consider to be more of a transportation method borne of desperation than a choice. I always thought people hitchhiked because they had to, not because they wanted to.

Have you ever taken a hitchhiking trip … on purpose? If so, please share your experience in the comments section below.

And if you have any advice/suggestions for angelafranco, please post them in her thread on the Lonely Planet forums: First time hitchhiking with little to no cash?

I’m on a Road to Nowhere” by vicki watkins. CC BY 2.0.


  1. When traveling in Israel last year, I picked up a hitchhiker near the Dead Sea. He turned out to be American college student studying anthropology. He said that hitchhiking was common in Israel because the buses, while the run the countryside regularly, were slower than hitching a ride. It was interesting, and after this, I noticed others with their thumbs out, and I gave them a ride too.

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