Without a doubt, hitchhiking is my preferred means of transportation. While saving money and choosing a more environmentally-friendly path, I also have the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with locals.
I was absolutely petrified the first time I gave it a try, but the outcome reminded me of how overwhelmingly kind people can be.
In Northern Ireland, my driver introduced me to nearly his entire family — his daughter, mother, sister, niece, and nephews. I chatted with them for a solid two hours while they continued to feed me lots of cake and tea.
In Germany, one man offered to drive me and my friend the entire distance from Berlin to Frankfurt, even going a couple exits out of his way so we could more easily meet my cousin.
From Austria to Hungary, our Hungarian driver also spoke German, but little to no English. With my basic knowledge of Dutch and German, we were able to somehow communicate, and he could hardly contain his excitement every time we made a breakthrough.
And thanks to the hospitality of my driver from Kuantan to Kuala Lampur, I tried durian for the first time and explored some of Malaysia’s beautiful mountainside.
Hitchhiking breaks down barriers. It encourages honest and open dialogue between people of different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Paired with the necessary safety precautions, I believe it’s one of the most enlightening ways to travel.