For the last few months, I've started to actively use hitchhiking as a means to
travel between home and work.
What started as a "I'm not sure about this, it seems a bit awkward, but I do
want to know how it goes and feels, so I'll try it out once" ended up being "this is
great, I'm doing it every day and loving it".
Here's why you should try it and why it may make your life more awesome.
Why do I do it?
- Meet new interesting people. I meet a lot of different people with all kinds of
backgrounds. Male, female. Young, old. Native Belgians, immigrants,
students, anything from "lower class" people, to people with regular jobs to even some people with very exciting
lives and/or high profile jobs.
- It's better for the planet.
- Save time and/or money. For me, traveling to/from work by hitchhiking is
quicker than going by public transport (bus). Bonus points because my route
involves a pleasant bike ride to the highway entry where I start my little
- No concerns about parking and/or paying for gas. My job is near the
highway exit so usually I get dropped off literally in front of the building.
Why do people take you with them?
From what I can tell:
- They like to do something nice, it makes them feel like a better person
- They are bored in the car and would like some companionship.
- Out of compassion. "poor guy must be standing here for a long time",
which is rarely true, and I think compassion is not needed, but hey.
Some drivers told me "I did the same when I was a student so I know it feels
like". Most folks are surprised though when I tell them I do it because I
- Concern that something bad will happen to you. Which I also think is not
really needed, but hey.
- curiosity, they want to hear your story.
Why you should try it
What I learned is, not only can hitchhiking bring you to work faster than by
public transport and/or in a less polluting manner, it can be a fun experience for both you and person
picking you up. Indeed, some people that pick me up never picked anybody up before
and tell me at the end they were happy they did it, and you can tell their day is made.
Also, avoiding routine makes your days more memorable and interesting.
Btw, I recently stumbled on this
, which tells you how you can make your daily life more
interesting and memorable by trying out new things, the video fits this post
- Sometimes you can have bad luck (no pick up, traffic jam, ...). It helps if
you have flexible working hours like me.
- Have some good card boards with your destination clearly written. If you live in a small
village like me, write down the name of a bigger city which is in the same
- Find a spot where drivers have time to see you, have some time to read your
cardboard and to make up their mind about whether or not to pick you up and then have enough room
to legally put their car to allow you to get in. All this without endangering
other people in traffic. When going to work I can stand just at the entry to the highway,
where not that many cars pass, but I have an almost guaranteed pickup within 5
minutes because drivers have time to react. Whereas when going from work back home, I have no choice but to stand
at a very busy section where drivers have little time to react (avg pickup time there
is 10 minutes or a bit more).
- look decently dressed. People tell me they felt okay picking me up
because I look civilized.
- If you're a girl, it could be trickier because you could feel uncomfortable
with some people who pick you up. That said, I think there are many more people with good
intentions then bad, and you can always say "no thanks" and wait for the next
Note: this article is not accurate anymore. I have since moved to Ghent, where
I go to work by bike, but that's material for a future post.