A while ago, when I was on one of my camping trips, I met some people who seemed like avid travelers.
As I got to know them further, they told me some really fabulous stories of their travel adventures- how they made their way through major part of India hitchhiking, commuting, and staying with the locals absolutely free of costs.
That made me wonder: How did hitchhiking begin in the first place? Who came up with the very concept of traveling with strangers? Do people actually offer you free rides for nothing at all? If yes, then why?
Hitchhiking means asking people, usually strangers, for a ride in their automobiles or another vehicle. The ride is usually free. It is an American contribution to the world civilization and has been associated with hippies.
It started around mid-1920’s and has been more or less ubiquitous ever since. Hitchhiking originated in the US and later spread in Europe. Historically, it has been the domain of the adventurous and lively or the determined.
During World War II, there was a boom in hitchhiking as the cars were hard to come by, there was a lack of gasoline, and people couldn’t get tires and other necessities. Soldiers were also trying to get around. It was a common practice for people to help each other, especially if they were in uniforms. The next few decades were termed as the ‘golden era of hitchhiking’.
Why do hitchers beg for rides?
- They are unable to pay for transportation.
- They are unwilling to pay as hitchhiking seems economical.
- Or just because they want to have an adventurous experience.
- Some may also go for it as an experiment to find out if there are good people in the world!
After all hitchhiking is nothing more than ‘travelling on trust’.
Hitchhiking is also a motivation for the driver, as he gets a chance to show his generosity, friendliness, and gives him/her a chance to socialize.
Hitchhiking has declined over the last few years, as the number of car owners has boomed tremendously. Almost every family in the urban cities owns a car today. Another factor that has led to its decrease is that drivers are more skeptical of letting strangers in their cars over stranded streets or highways. And also the travelers are more cautious when it comes to asking for rides from strangers, as the crime rates seem to have increased these days.