Some time ago when people asked me about hitch hiking I always said “I can´t really talk as if I had a real idea, I have only hitch hiked for a couple of hundred km”. Now I finally feel I can talk about it and try to throw down some of the stupidest, most common myths and stereotypes about autostop and the people who do it.
Myth nº1(my personal favourite): “TONS OF PEOPLE GET KILLED AND RAPED DOING THIS!!!”….yyyyyeah…well no.
Most of the people I talk to about hitch hiking(and of course have NEVER done it themselves) will say that 99% of the times. I will tell you an infalible way to prove them wrong. Ask them to tell you one example. Then the answer already shifts into a dubious “oh…well…I´ve heard…someone told me…it´s just something we KNOW..” and other kind of smart pulled-out-of-their-ass answers.
Cold blooded murderers, rapists and psycopaths don´t usually take their car and say “I´m going to go look for some hitch hikers!”. Am I saying that it is never risky? No. I´m sure that there can be some flimsly people on the road. But YOU CHOOSE to be taken by that person or not.
Is it more risky for the “gals”? Yes..also! But still…I believe mostly only the open minded awesome people take you. And half drunk Hungarian truck drivers…they do too.
Myth nº2: “You can be taken by some weird person you don´t really trust!”. Yes. Can happen. Hasn´t happened to me yet but yes, it can happen. Just say “no” if you don´t want to get into the car or say “oh, I actually want to go the other way”. If you are already inside. Just say “could you drop me off at the gas station? I would prefer to go with someone else”. THE END.
Myth nº3: “Nobody stops for you ever, right?”. Just talking out of own experience: Switzerland-Czech Republic to and back, Poland to Spain and tons of “little tours. Seems that it works. And I´ve got friends who have done faaaaaaar more than me….
Myth nº4: “But in Spain its fucking difficult right? Hardly anyone stops!” Well…… ok this one is true.
Myth nº5: “all the hustle just to get a ride!? That doesn´t seem worth it….” Ok. Im saying this one because I heard it not long ago. Not true. It´s NOT a big hustle and the kind of people that stop for you are usually friendly, talkative, open minded people.
And although the objective is normally just the experience and the transport you can end up getting all kinds of things! Just a few examples: free lunch or dinner, a place to stay, an invitation to a family reunion or barbeque, an invitation to a party, and yep…even money….:P
Myth nº6: “People who hitch hike are just poor beggars. Just get a job dirty hippy!” This one is a combo from two I have heard while trying to catch a ride in Madrid(in the financial/Mercedes rich area, ups…).
“Hitch hikers are just poor beggars?” Hmmm..lets analyze this one. If you travel to France by plane, then train to get to the city, then bus to get to your hotel… you will have spent quite surelly 100e before starting to do something. You journey wouldn´t be able to be much longer than 2 weeks unless you are Bill Gates.
But if you can spend almost zero on transport and adapt your plans almost ON THE SPOT you have already taken out 50% of your travelling expenses. “Yeah..but you would take several days to get to Paris”. Maybe. MAYBE. It took me one day to get to Santander from Paris so…maybe not.
But also..you have more freedom to choose to stop here or there, even if it was not your plan. You can suddenly decide to go with other people and go somewhere else, visit something you JUST heard about, change your route, destination or plan! And WHAT IF it takes 2 days, or 3?
Well..ok…you have been in Paris one day before I even arrived…while you have spent over 100x the money on transport. I have a 100e lead. Combine this with couch surfing, aegee, sleeping in a tent, dumpster diving, buying in supermarkets and others and…BOOM…we will be able to travel for WEEKS with 500 euros while many people for just some days.
The “get a job dirty hippy” one is awesome. I personally love it. Yes…half of the hitch hikers already work…they just prefer this kind of experience. If you travel cheap and light you can travel longer! Easy peasy!
Others are young students..can´t pay a 150e flight to go see a friend in need, others just started to work..and in Spain that means that you are pretty much pennyless(in other countries maybe the same..). I personally prefer not to miss the chance to visit friends and travel because of people thinking that I´m not contributing to society paying a bus ticket or a train ticket instead of hitch hiking.
There are quite a few more “Myths” like the one that hitch hikers are usually crazy dangerous people, or that in the end you spend the money you save travelling in food because it takes longer to get to places, it takes ages to get anywhere, you normally have to pay the drivers, we are dreamer-feet off the ground-idealistic idiots(this one….hm…MAYBE ahahaha), and so on and so forth!
In the end a usuall hitch will be a ride pretty much like this one:
Please, to anyone who reads this and thinks of any other or has heard one from family or friends…PLEASE POST IT! I would love to hear what other kind of
bullshit is said around there!