I’ve taken rides from strangers on every continent. Controversial, because it’s not safe, but a lot of things aren’t safe and that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. Most of the times I’ve ended up taking rides it’s been someone offering a ride to me rather than waiving a ride down if I’m alone. Carrying a surfboard has also seemed to have been a major factor in some places, call it karma or aloha, or whatever. Some highlights.
CENTRAL AMERICA: sometimes buses are confusing. I was trying to get back to a major city via ferry and some guy pulled up and offered me a lift because the bus wasn’t coming. Totally suspicious, there was actually kind of a stand-off and then I decided I probably wouldn’t be harmed. He had lived in the United States as an expat and we talked politics.
AFRICA: the most memorable was a dude that drove me up the road telling me about hiding his surfboard from his conservative family during Apartheid. His toddler was in the back, he dropped me at Supers. I’ve also done the back of the truck highway trip to get to an airport on time, which is pretty much The Worst.
EUROPE: I ended up driving to Versailles with a Latvian that knew someone I knew. We were in a van with a child seat, after midnight. This wasn’t really hitching, I guess, more of a random tour. I remember being cold and kind of sleepy and probably a bit of a buzzkill.
AUSTRALIA: I think I only hitched in groups here. We would waive down people in town to get just out of town to the beach, and had a pretty good success rate, probably because we worked in town and were a bunch of twenty something girls. Tip, it’s good to bring a German that looks like Claudia Schiffer. The best pick up was this short bus full of religious kids coming back from a church event that had a bunch of glow sticks after we had been at a party.
NORTH AMERICA: in some places people just assume you want a lift and pull over to offer, like on the small West Coast islands where hitching is the norm (though note it’s illegal on Vancouver Island and a lot of other places).
ASIA: usually I’ve had to hitch in Asia after overestimating my ability to explore an area in extreme heat and getting too tired to try and make it back to where I came from/not seeing any actual transit options/sometimes being lost. Most of my hitching in Asia has been via motorbike and normally I’ve offered cash, which I guess makes it kind of black-cab and not hitching. People have generally been cool about it and the most traumatic part has been zooming through traffic in congested cities thinking about how unimpressed my insurance company would be.
HAWAII: people would offer rides during the day while I was waiting for The Bus, particularly on the North Shore, and we’d talk North Shore, because that’s what people wanted to talk about and everyone had an opinion on it. I also hitched at night with a girl I met who was staying where I was staying, but things got sketchy at night and I don’t think I’d necessarily take a ride alone.