Sharing a ride with a stranger isn’t uncommon. If you use ride-hailing services, you’re probably doing it all the time. But for most people, riding with strangers conjures up images of traditional hitchhiking and all of the baggage that comes with it.
Depending on where you live, hitchhiking can be considered a dangerous risk or a legitimate way to get around. In many parts of the United States, there are laws against the practice or regulations that make it all but impossible.
Back in 2015, Vox put together this piece on the decline of hitchhiking here in the United States. they suggest that increased car ownership is what led to a decrease in hitchhiking in the United States, which I think makes a lot of sense.
Despite the decline in numbers of hitchhikers, Vox continues to conclude that much of the negative attitudes towards the practice are the result of moral panic than substantive risks. Still, for most Americans, the practice remains taboo. Just ask my mother.
In other parts of the world, hitchhiking is more than acceptable. This heat map of Europe shows where the practice is common and where it is less acceptable. It seems like the Benelux region is best, while southern Spain and Italy are a little less accommodating.
As for me (Mom, please look away now), I used to hitchhike fairly regularly when I was living pretty deep in the Negev Desert in Israel a few years back. I didn’t have a car and the buses came infrequently and didn’t stick to schedule. The solution was to wait at the bus stop and try to hitch a ride out of the desert. If you could make it to Be’er Sheva, an actual city, there were plenty of public transit options to get to places you’d actually want to go like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I never found myself in danger and I met some interesting people, like cousins of family friends and Southern Israel’s biggest Yes fan, Tales From Topographic Oceans shirt and all. Not an exciting story, maybe, but it worked.
But what about you? Do you have any good stories from hitching rides? Share them below!