Thanks to Chael Graham for today’s guest post. If you are interested in guest posting with IShouldLogOff, email us at info [at] ishouldlogoff.com. Thanks!
When you travel you start to discover new things, and sometimes those new things become
major players in your lifestyle. Tons of people discover travel blogs and are inspired to finally release the
fear they might have held before, to take the proverbial leap from static to enter a world of movement.
Traveling opens up new doors; you learn new languages, you see new lands and feel new sensations.
That hollow feeling at your center tells you that you are happy, that you are somewhere where you can
finally enjoy living.
Traveling around the world on the cheap is a popular search query, and often you can find the
best information possible about how to find top hotels, where to eat, and how to haggle in foreign
countries. That’s all well and good. Unfortunately, however, the most inexpensive way to get from A to
D will require you to overcome a major prejudice that most of us seem to be born with: that hitchhiking
is dangerous; no questions asked, no precautions taken. I’m here to write that it’s not so black and
The real danger of hitchhiking is to fall in love with it and therefore increase the already quite
slim chances that something truly horrible befalls you. I am not a random blogger writing about
something I only know from research. I am a person, a son, a brother, a cousin. I am not a homeless
vagabond, although that shouldn’t affect how you take this. If I assume that you, reading this, are an
educated person who shared the prejudices against “hitchhiking” that I long ago shed, I find it relevant
to tell you something of myself.
I studied at university.
I love my family.
I have been hitchhiking through Latin America for almost 3 years.
The only time something bad ever happened to me was when I made a stupid choice to walk
through a bad part of Medellin in the dead of night. I wasn’t hitchhiking, I was just walking.
Hitchhiking is whatever you want it to be. Anyone can hitchhike. You can hitchhike for a short
distance, a short amount of time, hell you can even just give it a shot and fail and say you tried.
Hitchhiking is not for any one kind of person. You might see me on the street and think that I’m a
homeless vagabond, and that’s alright. But even the most clean-cut of you can hitch.
I use hitchhiking not only to talk to locals and learn new languages, to see C and B while trying
to get from A to D, but also to see the world from the eyes of someone on the fringe of society. Thanks
to most peoples’ bias (including my family and friends, who have told me they would never pick me up if
they saw me), hitchhiking can be used to observe and critique the absurdities of the untrusting world.
But that’s not what hitchhiking has to be about. I want whoever is reading this to think more
profoundly about what hitchhiking actually is, and who is actually doing it. If you know couchsurfing.org,
then you know that at first you use it to save money that would otherwise be spent on hostels, but with
time the main reason simply becomes “because it’s the best way to learn.” Hitchhiking is no different.
It’s an exercise in patience, trust and faith in circumstance.
And the experiences that come to you are diverse. I’ve hitchhiked on mules in Ecuador, and was picked up by a congressman in Nicaragua. I’ve met all types of truckers, from the speed nuts to the
family oriented, and I’ve slept on their cargo, be it sugar, rice or metal scraps. I’ve met the whole
families of people who have picked me up, like the Solis family in Chile, with whom I spent Christmas
and who treated me like their third son. So many of my circumstances are thanks to hitchhiking; an
Argentinian asado, a Brazilian evangelic church service, a winter solstice hot spring gathering, a Peruvian
Ayahuasca trip, free passage to Machu Picchu, countless countless countless nights in safe with good
people in their good homes. I’ve hitchhiked thousands of kilometers in one sitting through Patagonia, or
just a few kilometers on the back of motorcycles and pick-up trucks everywhere else.
Somehow hitching makes you feel that you’re closer to the real than you might otherwise be.
Author: Chael has a continuous travel narrative and drawings fromhitchhiking around the world at velabas.com.