Get a Thumbs-Up in Hitchhiking
Expert hitcher talks safety
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2009 11:41 AM CDT
In this 1945 photo, women use an unusual hitchhiking tactic: Instead of thumbing a lift, the girls offer a driver cigarettes in exchange for a lift.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Hitchhiking, though controversial, remains the epitome of frugal traveling. Ben Bachelder, who has thumbed his way through 35 countries and six continents—including Antarctica—gives the New York Times tips on how to do it right:

  • Start slow: “First-time hitchhikers should go with a friend, just for a little more security. Don’t go too far—make it a day trip.”

  • Assess the car and driver: “Are there beer cans strewn about? What does it smell like? What kind of condition is it in? Is this person safe?”
  • Go with the flow: “The price you pay for hitchhiking is to be entertainment. Half the time, the driver’s just bored out of his mind, and that’s why they stopped to pick you up.”
  • Dress for success: “I definitely bring layers. You have to be ready to spend the night wherever you are.”
  • Best hitching: “New Zealand’s great, that’s for sure, as well as Thailand.”
  • If it turns bad: “Make up some kind of excuse. Like ‘I’ve got to go to the bathroom.’”
  • A note for women: “You’ve got to be hyper-conscious of drivers and what their intent is, and definitely willing to say no and not compromise.”
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