“Despite all my mistakes and all the obstacles thrown in my direction, I made it to the West Coast. It was treacherous at points, but it was also exciting and exhilarating at others. Even with all the pain I went through, I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world.”
– Matt Forney
Before reading The Hitchhiking Crash Course: How to Travel the World and Meet Cool People, by Matt Forney, I knew nothing about hitchhiking. As a child I was taught that thumbing a ride was dangerous and illegal, so I never even bothered trying it. In fact, my only exposure to hitchhiking came from television. As a result, I believed that everyone who tried bumming a ride ended up being raped and murdered by sadistic hobos.
Fortunately, The Hitchhiking Crash Course cured my ignorance. From the very introduction I was learning tons of valuable information, one of the most interesting facts being:
“The claim that hitchhiking is dangerous (to the hitcher and the driver) is completely bogus. It was invented by the FBI in the late 1950’s as a means of cracking down on beatniks, hippies and other countercultural groups. The only agency to actually study the subject, the California Highway Patrol, found in 1974 that hitchhiking was a factor in a whopping 0.63 percent of crimes in the state. You have a better chance of being killed in a car crash than killed because you were hitchhiking.”
This is a comprehensive guide that covers everything from what to pack, to dealing with police, to etiquette when getting a ride from strangers. While some of the material is a little obvious (bring a sturdy backpack, don’t dress like an axe murderer), it’s outweighed by the helpful advice that I would never have even considered (like the fact that cities are the worst place to score a ride). The book’s section on dealing with law enforcement is especially useful and is a mandatory read for anyone who finds themselves dealing with police:
“There are still honest men carrying the badge, who truly want to fight crime and protect the innocent. If you go into every police encounter assuming the worst, you’re going to get it. On the other hand, if you approach cops with an open mind, you’re far more likely to get a helping hand, or at least not be punished.”
The Hitchhiking Crash Course is on sale from now until Sunday. If you plan on doing any kind of travel this summer I’d recommend picking up a copy. The book’s content is as interesting as it is useful, and has plenty of information that’s applicable to any type of adventurer.