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Hitch hikers guide to the shoestring
Hitch hiking is similiar to italian cuicine
Hitch hiking is similiar to italian cuicine; it can be very very good and it is based on a basic of very few ingredients. However, to get a decent result the ingredients have to be of some quality, and you also have to be able to boil water. Here is the mini-guide to waterboiling for hitch hikers.
Why hitch hike?!
Well, it is a mighty cheap way of travel, and besides, you get to meet a lot of people you probably wouldn't have met otherwise. By hitch hiking you get the real shit, the underbelly of the country.
Boys should hitch hike alone, unless you like waiting for hours. Girls should consider travelling together. If you choose not to, remember never to compromise on your safety. Judge the people that stops, and never climb into something you don't feel is right.
Mr Clean Shave
Putting on a clean shirt and shave (if you are of the sex who have facial hair) makes it a lot easier to get picked up. Dependent on how much you want to compromise, you should also consider what you are wearing. Looking like Charles Bukowski or Marilyn Manson will probably not get you anywhere. A good rule is also not to look like a serial killer. Remember that the cars pass by quick and the drivers only have a couple of seconds to judge you.
The right spot Choosing a good spot is important. Pick one where cars can stop by safely, where they can see you, and where you don't become a part of the local selection of roadkills. Another good deal might be to find a gas station. Approach people politely and take their eventual rejections with good humour, maybe they will let you in anyway when they see what a nice person you are!
Hitch hiking out of big cities is usually very very difficult and if you find yourself in that situation, try to catch a bus to a smaller city! Truck drivers are also an alternative, as they often travel great distances alone, and some of them would more than gladly accept a companion.
Where do I sleep?
There are some important life-saving objects you should bring with you at all time, and the first is a good sleeping bag. Even though you might prefere to stay in hostels (which is probably the best alternative when hitch hiking on a shoestring budget), you will never know exactly where your ride will take you. Some nights you'll get an offer of a sofa or a bed or a shack, and yet other nights you might feel like the last person on earth and will have to find shelter on your own. Be prepared for this. Bring some quality clothes (raingear!), you never know when you'll find yourself in the middle of a storm. Also bring a good map, a torchlight, water, some nuts and some fruit. Those can be important travel companions when the world doesn't seem like much and the night and the rain are getting heavy.
Hit the road
Choosing to hitch hike you will also choose some risks you don't find or a train or a bus. There is always the risk of being picked up by a lunatic that will nail you to his roof and cut small pieces of you while singing the russian national anthem, or the guy that wants you to suck his dick. Or there is the less dangerous risk of a painfull dull conversation for many hours, or the 3-hour monolog about socks. Be careful, never compromise on your safety, and use common sense. Also depending on how much you want to compromise (or how far you want to go), it is also a good idea to be a little apolitical and not do dive right into discussions about religion. Just a tip!
Remember that when people pick you up, they offer you something, and it would be nice of you to give something back. It can be some nuts, a song, a story or simply some good energy. Be open and suck in the energy of the world you meet and you will come a long way. Buon voyage!