Thumbs up or thumbs down? Travel writer Kayleigh Chan writes about the difficulties and downfalls of hitchhiking.
Last Easter, I hitchhiked from Cardiff to Morocco along with a couple of friends in aid of charity. Whilst it was a great experience, and the generosity of strangers restores your faith in humanity- there were moments when we began to question why on earth we weren’t just flying.
Family and friends were a bit apprehensive before I started; the main concern being that I’d end up in the boot of a crazy guy’s car and never be seen again. Fortunately this didn’t happen, but it’s easy to see why it’s a valid concern- it’s why we’re told as children not to talk to strangers.
We got picked up a girl returning from a ‘holiday’. Minutes later she was pulled over by the police as part of a routine check. However, we realised that something was amiss when our driver had been gone for ten minutes and when we next saw her, she was in tears. Turns out she was high on amphetamines and that this ‘holiday’ was a mad rave. You just don’t know who will pick you up, although against our better judgement, we stayed in the car with her for another couple of hours.
Something to be aware of whilst hitchhiking is sleeping. Cities are really difficult to get out of; if you don’t want to wait hours for a lift the next day, it’s best to have alternative sleeping arrangements to city centre hostels.
In hindsight, a tent would have been the perfect solution for us, but we didn’t bring one. This led to us sleeping in the back of a truck one night – the coldest night of my life- and in a child’s play pen in a service station for another. The play pen had a really soft foam floor which was a lot comfier than having your head resting on a table.
I don’t like not knowing where I’ll end up the next day, or having to spend seven hours on the side of a road and then make awkward conversation with a driver who has limited English. The uncertainty of hitchhiking means that I won’t be doing it again anytime soon.
Written by Kayleigh Chan