Hitchhiking: Thumbs-Up?

by : Bradlley Mckoy

Have you tried hitchhiking? It's fun, and the adventure is its own reward, but you have to know how to play it safe. You can't flaunt your worldly goods, including your loaded money clip or wallets, in case there are greedy eyes around. These tips will help you smarten up before your raise a thumb.

Life on the Road

Jack Kerouac, American writer, redefined hitchhiking in his celebrated novel On the Road (1957). The novel chronicled friendships forged, hardships experienced, and joys discovered - all on a foray across the US continent on empty wallets.

Hitchhiking is not a new phenomenon. It has its roots snaking back to the pioneer days. According to urban legend, two riders would share a horse. The first rider rides ahead, hitches the horse to a tree or bush, and waits patiently for the second rider to reach the spot to unhitch the horse and ride a few stretches, while the first rider would walk until he reached the spot where the horse was hitched to take over. Thus, the expression hitch and hike.

Hitchhiking is alive and kicking in the age of the wild wild west. Each year, thousands of students enlist for the hitch to Prague or Morocco to drum up funds to improve and support education in Africa. Hitchhiking has also joined the ranks of spelunking and mountain climbing in the adventure department. They could have empty or bulging wallets, but they know better than to show it off.

Hitchhikers are mostly young people eager to take on the world via free rides. You'd know them by their backpacks, college football T-shirts, faded jeans, and sneakers. No, they don't don their dressing gowns like Arthur Dent in the sci-fi movie The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, nor are they garbed in executive suits with fat wallets tucked somewhere.

But is hitchhiking still safe? Yes and no. Before you thumb your way to the next state, do a little investigation. Some states like New Jersey made hitchhiking illegal, and if you're not careful, you'll land in jail.

Tips for Safe Hitchhiking

Truckers have put in a word of advice to those who would like to experience the thrill of hitchhiking. According to them, go where truckers have their stops. You are most likely to get a ride there, but don't push it if the person makes you feel suspicious when you reach out for one of your wallets in your attached case masquerading as a backpack.

Have a companion when hitchhiking. Aside from keeping you company to while the hours waiting for a ride, you'll feel safe with a friend with you. The two of you shouldn't doze off when you're on a ride with a stranger. And if the stranger offers you food, eat with him in a public place, and never leave your food unattended - the same advice goes for your things.

Always have several emergency numbers tucked in your wallets, your bag's pockets, and in the seat pockets of your pants. You will never know when and how you'll need these numbers.

If you can, don't wear any pieces of jewelry. Wear the cheapest watch that you have because expensive items can titillate the insatiable greed of robbers on the highway.

As for your wallets, keep it out of reach from beady eyes. It is better to be safe than sorry later. But once you have enjoyed hitchhiking, you'll be eager for more. Thumbs up?