14 Ways to Safely Hitchhike Across the United States

Matthew Karsten hitchhiking in the USA holding a sign offering free cookiesMy first experience with hitchhiking was in Belize. Back in 2005, I hitchhiked the entire country as it was the most common way locals got around. If they were doing it, why not me? It was a lot of fun and much easier and safer than I thought it would be. Since then, I’ve hitchhiked around a handful of countries and met some interesting (and not so interesting) people. Hitchhiking is still a popular and common way many people worldwide get around, but it evokes a lot of fears and concerns, especially among Westerners. Today, Matt Karsten from expertvagabond.com shares his experience hitchhiking around the United States and advice about how you can safely do it too. Enter Matt.

It was a chilly and overcast day on the Oregon coast when I nervously stuck my thumb out on the side of Route 101. For the next twenty minutes, drivers passed me over and over again—most with looks of disgust on their faces. But I kept on smiling. Would anyone stop for me? Was I wasting my time? I wasn’t completely sure.

Eventually my persistence paid off, and a massive orange pickup truck screeched to a stop in a cloud of dust. A wave of excitement rushed over me as I jogged up to meet CJ and her dog, Trigger. My first ride!

Yet this was just the first of many such pleasant surprises on my journey.

CJ wasn’t going far, only to the next town. When I asked why she stopped, she explained that I looked relatively normal and that she’d also done some solo hitchhiking in Montana when she was younger. This would become a common theme over the next five weeks. Drivers will often stop for you to pay forward kindness they received in the past.

Before I left on my mission to hitchhike across the United States from coast to coast, I was told that no one picks hitchhikers up anymore. They said that it was dangerous these days, and that the golden era of hitchhiking was, sadly, over.

But after five weeks, 3500 miles, 36 rides (from both men and women), a motorcycle, a boat, an airplane, a freight train, and a tractor trailer, I can say that those people were wrong. If you’ve always dreamed of hitchhiking but are unsure of how to do it, where to begin, and how to stay safe, here are 14 tips to hitchhike smart:

Be Confident

Always look drivers in the eye and smile as they pass. Not in a crazy axe-murderer way, but in a friendly and personable way. Smiling is very important. Pretend the next car is a friend who is planning to pick you up. Try waving hello or holding your gaze expectantly as they drive past. You really only have a second or two to make a positive impression. Think of it as a drive-by job interview, with only your eyes, appearance, and body language to guide the other person’s decision. Smiling for three hours straight in the sun or rain despite a constant stream of rejection is not easy, but you’ll get better at it. If you look nervous or scared, you will attract the wrong type of people, so be confident.

Look Presentable

Two guys posing in front of an airplane with a backpack and a thumbs up
No one wants to pick up a lazy, stinky-looking hobo. Dress in light or bright clothes. Avoid wearing black if you can. Don’t wear sunglasses (people need to see your eyes), and keep your hands out of your pockets. Don’t smoke, drink, or sit down on the side of the road.

Additionally, many drivers pick up people who look similar to themselves. I was having a difficult time getting a ride on the border of Colorado and Kansas, until I bought myself a cheap cowboy hat! Soon after that strategic purchase, a trucker couple from rural Tennessee pulled over and proceeded to drive me 1200 miles over the course of two days, country music playing all the while.

Choose A Good Spot

A hammock tied between two trees and a backpack sitting on the ground
Cars will not stop for you if they can’t do it safely. Interstate on-ramps are great because cars aren’t moving very fast and there’s usually room to pull over. Other good locations include intersections with stoplights or a stop sign and gas stations. The longer a driver can get a good look at you, the better. Keep an eye out for shady areas with protection from the sun, too. If you have Internet access on your phone, Google Maps in satellite view will show you where the best on-ramps are.

Hitchhiking out of big cities can be very difficult, and sometimes using public transportation to get to the outskirts is your best option. There are some places where it is almost impossible to get a ride, such as spots near sensitive government facilities (employees are forbidden to pick people up), prisons, or neighborhoods with high crime rates.

Make Conversation

There are many reasons why people pick up hitchhikers. Maybe they’re bored and want to listen to fun travel stories. Maybe they were once hitchhikers and want to share their experience (and karma) with you. Maybe they’ll try to convert you to Christianity/Islam/Scientology. Maybe they need help staying awake on a long drive.

Providing good conversation is how you pay these people back for their generosity. It can also lead to a free lunch, drinks, or maybe even an offer to host you for the night. Ed the yacht builder was the last ride on my cross-country journey, and he spent his whole afternoon giving me a personal tour of the Maryland coast before taking me out for dinner and drinks at his favorite seafood restaurant.

Be Prepared

Always pack enough food and water to last a day, in case you get stuck in the middle of nowhere. I like to bring a few bananas, apples, tortillas, tuna, refried beans, and maybe a package of cookies to share. A filtered water bottle will let you safely drink from rivers and ponds. Take a couple of dark-colored permanent markers to create signs, some sunscreen, a first aid kit, warm clothes, and a rain jacket.

A USB car charger and external battery for your mobile phone is a good idea too. They’re perfect for listening to music, checking Google Maps, or calling for help in an emergency. A lightweight camping hammock or bivy sac will help you save money on accommodations. I frequently camped in the woods on the side of the road or behind churches on my trip.

Use A Cardboard Sign

Guy in a dumpster holding up a piece of cardboard for his hitchhiking sign with a truck passing
A simple cardboard sign indicating a town nearby helps a lot. Keep it short and write in large capital letters with a Sharpie marker. It needs to be readable at a distance from a fast-moving vehicle. Use destinations that are relatively close (within 20–50 miles), and you’ll be more likely to score rides. You can then negotiate longer ones inside the vehicle if the driver is going farther in your intended direction.

Funny signs work well too. A few successful ones I used were: “Free Cookies,” “Won’t Kill You,” and “Rabies-Free Since June.” That last sign was funny enough that Dan, a retired theater actor and pharmaceutical executive, had already driven to the next exit when he changed his mind and turned around to come get me!

You can find cardboard for signs at any gas station or fast-food restaurant, either by asking inside or by opening up the dumpster in the back.

Choose Your Ride Carefully

You are under no obligation to get into every car that stops for you. Is the driver in a good mood? Are they looking you in the eyes? Are they sober? How many people are in the car? If you don’t feel comfortable accepting a ride, thank the driver and say no. Make up an excuse if you have to. Pretend to be sick, or explain that you’d rather wait for a longer ride. Trust your gut instincts. On my own trip, I only turned down one ride. I was in a sketchy neighborhood (prostitutes were walking around in the middle of the day), and the vehicle that stopped was a truck packed with four young guys, with the smell of weed pouring from the windows. They were also only headed to the next exit. Odds are good I would’ve been fine, but the situation didn’t feel right and I decided to wait for a better opportunity.

Use Common Sense

Always wear your seatbelt, and if the person starts driving erratically, stay calm and polite but ask to be let out at the next safe pullover spot. Avoid hitchhiking (or picking up hitchhikers) at night. Not only is it very difficult to stop on the side of the road safely after dark, but it’s also much harder to see pedestrians at night. Not to mention, people are much more likely to commit crimes under the cover of darkness.

Stay Positive

Two guys on a motorcycle, on a motorcycle owner, the other is a hitchhiker in America
Hitchhiking is definitely a mental challenge. You’re putting yourself out there in public while engaging in an activity that isn’t considered mainstream. You’ll be judged by everyone who passes you, often in a negative way. People will laugh, flip you off, yell, honk, rev their engines, or maybe even throw things.

Stay in Control

Predators prey on weakness and insecurity. Don’t make yourself an easy target. Dress conservatively and steer sexual topics to something un-sexy. Make it crystal clear you’re only interested in getting to your destination, and nothing else. Maintain an aura of confidence.

Keep your valuables on or near your body so if you must escape quickly, you don’t lose them. Avoid putting your bag in the trunk if possible, so the driver can’t take off before you can grab it. Snap a quick photo of the back of the car with your phone before you get in, then send it to a friend or your Twitter account. Once inside the car, find a moment to call a friend and tell them where you are and where you’re headed so the driver can hear you doing it.

Avoid Arguments

Hitchhiknig sign saying that Montana Won't Kill You
Try to avoid talking to your driver (or hitchhiker) about politics, religion, race, or other controversial subjects, at least until you get to know each other a bit and can gauge how they might react. You don’t want to provoke them into becoming angry or emotional while behind the wheel. If they attempt to start a conversation on these topics, try to change the subject or give boring/vague answers to their questions until they lose interest or you feel comfortable talking about them. This is how I responded to Captain Kitty Litter’s overly racist remarks and questions. Even though I disagreed with his views, I just kind of nodded along and let him talk.

Hitchhike With A Friend

If it’s your first time hitchhiking and you’re particularly nervous about it, try hitching with someone else who’s done it before. This is a fantastic way to learn the ropes and get more comfortable. While it might be more difficult to get someone to stop for two hitchhikers, it will always be a bit safer. I’m not saying not to go alone, but if you’re worried about safety, hitchhiking with a friend might be a good way to start out.

Expect To Wait

Male hitchhiker with a female driver riding along the road in a top-down convertible
My average wait time while hitchhiking across the United States was about an hour. But there were some days when it took two to three hours or more. You must be prepared to wait in one spot for at least a few hours. However, there were also many times when I was picked up after only 15 minutes. You just never know how long it will take.

If you’re in a particularly bad spot, it might take days to get picked up, which happened to me once outside Denver. I spent two nights in a motel waiting to get out of there. Are you getting sick of waiting? Maybe take a break and go do something else to break up the time. Having camping gear with you can help in these situations too. Walking a few miles to the next exit or catching a taxi to a better location are also options.

Protect Yourself

You will almost certainly never need to use it, but packing a weapon of some kind to help with self-defense is always a good idea. I like to bring pepper spray along with me. When Captain Kitty Litter started telling me about the time he threw another hitchhiker out of his moving car, I subtly placed one hand in my pocket where pepper spray was hidden (just in case). Luckily I never needed to use it!

My experienced hitchhiker friend Shannon carries a stun gun openly on her belt (this can be illegal in some states). However, a simple pen shoved into the ear or eyes of an assailant should work in a pinch too. In my opinion, a knife should not be your first choice for self-defense unless you’ve been trained to use it, as it can easily be turned against you if the situation takes a turn for the worse. Please note that using a weapon is an absolute last resort—only use it when communication doesn’t work and you honestly fear for your life.

Is Hitchhiking Safe?

Hitchhiking has become progressively more rare over the years. Irrational fears about hitchhiking are brought on by paranoid horror stories promoted aggressively by the news, and then turned into movies by Hollywood. Bad news is what sells, so that’s what we’re exposed to. I’m still waiting for CNN to do a story about my successful hitchhiking adventure, but I’m not holding my breath. I had a wonderful time, met great people, and nothing bad happened. It’s not sensational enough to be considered news.

Based on my own experience and after listening to other people’s hitchhiking stories, it’s likely that some weirdos will pick you up. But rarely will it result in a dangerous situation. Out of 36 different rides during my own adventure, I had maybe two or three “odd” (socially awkward) drivers.

I was told countless times that hitchhiking would be dangerous. While it’s smart to be prepared for worst-case scenarios, in reality you don’t have to worry about these horror stories too much. Most of the people I met while hitchhiking were friendly, fascinating, and full of entertaining tales. But that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down.

While hitchhiking is not nearly as dangerous as some people make it out to be, there is risk involved. If you choose to engage in this activity, you are accepting those risks. Crimes are committed against hitchhikers from time to time, as well as against drivers (although much less frequently).

If you ever feel threatened or uncomfortable once you’re already in the vehicle, first ask the driver to stop and let you out at the next exit or gas station. Make up an excuse if you want to. If the driver still fails to stop, remind them that you sent a photo of the car and plate number to friends. In an absolute emergency you can always grab the steering wheel or hand brake and cause a small accident. Remember, only use these techniques as a last resort, when you genuinely fear for your life. Even small accidents can kill you or someone else. It’s not something to take lightly.

One Final Legal Note

Hitchhiking in the United States is legal. The confusion lies with the United States Uniform Vehicle Code. The law states:

“No person shall stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride.”

Sounds illegal, right? Yes—until you read its definition of“roadway:”

“That portion of a highway improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the sidewalk, berm or shoulder even though such sidewalk, berm or shoulder is used by persons riding bicycles or other human powered vehicles.”

What does that mean? It’s illegal to stand directly on the road (for obvious safety reasons), but standing on the side of the road, the shoulder, or on a sidewalk is fine.

Each state also has its own laws, though, and a few specifically ban hitchhiking. These include New York, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wyoming.

However, getting caught hitchhiking in these states doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll go to jail. Police officers may stop and question you, give you a warning, or fine you. In fact, hitchhikers may experience this from authorities even in states where it is technically legal, due to ignorance of the law or boredom.

Man standing on the beach with 3 girls in bikinis and a cardboard hitchhiking sign saying THE END

Hitchhiking will definitely be a challenge. But it will also open your mind, build your confidence, teach you patience, and introduce you to new friends. There’s something magical about the open road and the uncertainty that comes with sticking out your thumb with no plans.

You could meet a friendly schoolteacher who’s never picked anyone up or an ex-con with hilarious stories to share. Or maybe you’ll meet the inventor of the Ultimate Pancake Sandwich. I was picked up in fancy Land Rovers, an airplane, a boat, a motorcycle, and a car held together with duct tape. You don’t know who will stop, if anyone will stop, or how your day will unfold when someone eventually does. That’s what makes hitchhiking so special. It’s the unknown.

It’s an absolute roller-coaster ride full of emotions: thrilling one minute, then completely discouraging the next. But in the end, hitchhiking might just be one of your most memorable or rewarding travel experiences, as it has been for me. I’ll never forget the feeling of accomplishment I experienced when jumping into the Atlantic Ocean at the end of my long journey.

Useful Resources

For more information on the legality of hitchhiking, trip reports, organized meet-ups, and route maps from around the world, check out HitchWiki.org.

To locate accommodations while hitchhiking, you can use Couchsurfing.org to meet local people willing to share their homes with strangers in exchange for interesting conversation. You will surely be able to provide some after a few days of hitchhiking.

While not quite the same as hitchhiking, organized ride-sharing or car-pooling with strangers might be a good first step if you’re nervous. This great article lists the many different ride-sharing websites for various locations around the world.

Matthew Karsten has been vagabonding around the world since 2010. Addicted to adventure travel and photography, he’s on a mission to inspire your next journey with entertaining stories and images from his travels. Read more about his five-week hitchhiking journey across America at ExpertVagabond.com.

  1. While I’ve done solo international travel and Couch Surfing, as a female I think that hitchhiking by myself would go against all safety measures that I’ve been taught on how to avoid getting kidnapped or raped.

    It’s unfortunate that I have to take that responsibility upon myself, but it’s also good to use common sense. It’s tough being a girl in a boy’s world.

    • I agree that hitchhiking by yourself as a woman might be more dangerous, but it was actually my friend Shannon who has spent years hitchhiking through the US on her own who convinced me to give it a try.

      She had plenty of stories of men propositioning her, but no violence.

      • kim

        as a college aged female, I hitch-hiked for years in the 1980’s and was frequently propositioned. I would just sigh, and say I was only trying to get where I was going. Most would laugh nervously and say it couldn’t hurt to ask then change the subject. If they continued, I would give them my 5 point speech. Point 1. I say I’m just here for the ride. Point 2. I will say no to sex. Point 3. if you persist, I will ask for you to let me out and find another ride. Point 4. If you do not let me out, I will wreck your car. and point 5. it would be so much better to just talk about the weather and the song on the radio as we go on down the highway without any conflict whatsoever. Hearing me put it out in a point by point presentation let the driver know I had thought about it, said it before, was ready to act on my thought out plan and it had nothing to do with the driver personally. I never had any problem with violence.

  2. Great story! Being from the US, I was a bit surprised when I met two women from France who were hitchhiking through Malaysia together. In many places in the world it’s much more common.

    I think many the tips listed above are helpful for anyone traveling, especially solo travelers.

  3. I hitchhiked in Canada a few times with my boyfriend and we had no trouble, it was in fact a great experience. I don’t know if I would feel comfortable hitching by myself but I think if you are travelling with a partner or friend it would be safer than by yourself, especially as a female.

  4. Great article! I haven’t hitched in the US yet, but had my first experience in NZ a few months ago on my RTW trip. I’m so glad I did it and will definitely pick up a safe looking hitchhiker now. I will admit that I’m more apprehensive to hitch in the US but maybe I’ll give it a try one day. I’m surprised you only had to wait about 1 hr. in NZ, hitching is very popular but I was waiting 1-2 hours for my first few rides.

    • Hi Adam! While the average was about an hour, it can also be 3 or more. I found people stopped pretty quickly in the North West though. I’d love to hitchhike in New Zealand one day.

  5. Really interesting read. As a solo female traveler I don’t know if I would ever be comfortable hitchhiking alone. I recently met a girl who did a lot of solo hitching, and she admitted that she often slept with the driver who picked her up just to stay safe (this was through Africa). Yikes. She was fine with it (to each their own) but I definitely wouldn’t put myself in that situation. If I had a travel buddy at some point, though, I would definitely try it!

    • kim

      Don’t discount travelling with a dog. I put in hundreds of miles with a dalmation named Lucy. I knew in advance that the driver would like dogs….it also gave us something to talk about. Win-win.

  6. Erin

    Loved this read! I am off in Dublin currently and think it would be very interesting to see what I could see and the stories I could hear. What was your favorite story that you heard? Would you suggest hitchhiking through Ireland?

  7. When I quit my banking job, I hitchhiked a few places in Asia. It was so weird at first, yet so much fun at the end. The list above is a great way to stay safe–I think our inner alarm really matters, and we should listen to our inner voice.

    I started hitchhiking with a friend–so I definitely agree that hhiking with a friend is a great way to get started. But I didn’t know you could hitchhike on freight trains! Need to try that 😀

  8. Adrienne Morton

    Love this, Matt! I have been hitchhiking since I was sixteen years old and have found it to be a rhythmic, welcome, reliable experience. All over the world. It’s actually provided me with a lot of material for my writing. Bonus!
    I have been in a couple dangerous situations situations but they are the rarity- some in Martha’s Vineyard when I was still a teenager, and some abroad, most particularly in St. John, USVI, but I was unsurprised when both happened considering my young age and the motivations of the males driving. I jumped out of cars. I am proud of that and yet so grateful that I was safe in the end. It’s a mixed bag depending on how you look and act and simply are in respect to sex versus the driver in a lot of countries. You can handle it if you are prepared.
    My few dangerous episodes have not deterred me from hitchhiking. I still do it and still love it and still meet amazing people while doing it who I often keep in touch with forever. The negative has been squashed by the positive. I encourage all travelers to have the faith in people to hitch. It can lead to the most beautiful opportunities. It has for me.
    Stay strong,
    Adrienne Morton

  9. Hometown Hiker

    Nice article. I grew up in the 1970’s and hitchhiked all through the southern US as a teenager. I then joined the Air Force and was stationed in Europe, where I continued hitching. As a long distance backpacker I still continue hitching to towns and trail heads in various parts of the country without any reservations.
    I just keep my street smarts and common sense about me and have never run into any problems. I stop for hitchers using the same criteria and always enjoy the interaction.

  10. What an amazing adventure! As much as I would covet the experience, I really would be too scared to go hitchhiking. Perhaps it’s a mindset thing like you said, but being 5’3, Asian female makes me feel that the odds of something bad happening might be a lot bigger than I expect.

    That being said though, I might be ok with hitchhiking through Australia or New Zealand. Nothing like hitching a ride with surfers heading to the beach =)

    • Baron

      Hitch-hiking is as dangerous in New Zealand as any other country. As a varsity student, I hitch-hiked a lot all over New Zealand from Cape Reinga (northwestern tip of the North Island) to Stewart Island (below the South Island) and must admit, I had a few dicey experiences I managed to get myself out of. If I had a daughter, I would never advise her to hitch in this country, there have been too many young women (and men) over the years who have been murdered doing so.

  11. Amazing adventure!
    Great tips! Hitchhiking alone is something that has always scared me a little but reading your post and you writing about your friend (girl) who hitchhiked safely for years made it a little less scary. I might give it a try someday.
    It can surely be a fun experience!



  12. I use a small white board for a sign. It saves me a ton of time searching for cardboard, and as soon as you hop out of a car you can make a new one. You can also change your sign on the fly if need be. Works great!

  13. This is a great thing you can do if you are a man, because if you are a woman it doesn’t work. I did something like this when I was younger and it really scared me. I was going to another town and I didn’t have any means of transportation and I decided to hitchhike. It was in November. It was cold and it started to snow. I was picked up by a stranger and after we discussed the details we started having a short talk. I didn’t know why but he was upset, for some reason and didn’t wanted to talk too much. That was fine because I really don’t like to talk that much. At some point a car in front of us started to slide due to the ice on the road and I screamed at him to watch out. He hit the brakes, stopped the car, looked at me and told me to never scream at him again. That was the moment when I realized that my place was not there. I told him that I wanted to get out but he wouldn’t listen. I stopped talking because the last thing on my mind was to argue with him. When I saw that he doesn’t let me get out, that’s when I started to be afraid for my life. But eventually we ended in a gas station, because he needed to fill his tank and I managed to get out. That was the last time I did something like that!

  14. Hitchhiking around Oregon is easy, but head south of San Fran and you’re in trouble. Worst experience I ever had was on my first big hitchhiking trip. I was an18 girl with my boyfriend, wearing a tie-dye University t-shirt I’d made with friends, purple corduroys and a bright blue hair-scarf. We were clean cut in a hippie way and obviously young. A cop stopped pulled over, shouted at us through his intercom, made us put our hands in the air and then patted us down as the traffic went by, everyone staring through their windows. I’m sure he thought we had drugs (we didn’t). It was one of the most frightening and humiliating things I have ever been through. It didn’t stop me from hitchhiking, but it made me a lot more wary of cops.

  15. Machella

    I’ve only tried hitchhiking once. My friend and I were in Australia and we were just trying to make it to the next town. It was actually a father with his young daughter that picked us up and gave us a ride to the next town. Outside of the US, the mentality of hitchhiking seems much more relaxed. I never would have thought to try it here. I prefer ride sharing a lot more though.

  16. Kristi

    In my twenties I hitchhiked extensively around Europe, Malaysia, NZ, Australia and Britain, along with a boyfriend or on my own. As a solo female hiker I had some curious experiences with folk I would never normally come into contact with, including interrogation by Malaysian police after a ride with some friendly local drug dealers, and an overnight stay in the rustic hut of a NZ possum hunter (looked like a character from Deliverance but totally kind and hospitable). But a female hiker is always going to take a risk and, quite honestly, I wouldn’t be comfortable to have my daughter hitchhike. Even with a male partner things can go wrong, like the time we were driven off-road into the wilds of Turkey by a truckload of soldiers with evil intent (fortunately they changed their minds). My experience taught me that it’s probably reasonably safe to hitch short trips, preferably as a twosome, around well populated areas where there is always some kind of settlement in sight. Avoid long distance trips across remote rural areas, especially in Australia – really bad strike rate with many male drivers assuming they deserve repayment for their generosity. New Zealand, by contrast, is a lot more hiker-friendly, and a trip with a girlfriend around both islands went without hitch (not literally)! An assertive attitude is important to ensure no misunderstanding occurs about romantic availability. Great tips about safety using phone etc.

  17. A great place for a solo female to hitchhike is the highlands and islands of Scotland. The Isle of Skye is fantastic for it – a local is bound to pick you uprrather quickly there. As an Aussie, growing up in the 90s, there were a series of mass murders of young travellers who had been hitchhiking in southern NSW (just google Ivan Milat – it will send chills down your spine). Then we had the Peter Falconio and Joanne Lees crime occur in the outback (tho they weren’t hitchhiking). I would not recommend hitchhiking in Australia.

    • Allison

      Yes ~ there is a creepy movie I saw years ago about a guy who would offer to help stranded motorists (he would actually disable their vehicle then come around later to offer help) lure them back to his place and torture them.

  18. As I traveled I often met many solo female travelers who got around exclusively by hitchhiking! I was always super impressed and asked for advice or tips.

    One of my favorites was from a gal on the topic of dealing with creepy drivers that gave you that gut feeling you talk about.

    Her tip was to NEVER say where she was going first, figure out where the driver was headed and engage them in conversation before getting in. This allowed her to get a quick sense of the person and if they were going to be bad news.

    Then she could politely use the excuse that she was headed in the opposite direction and thank them, instead of telling them where she was going, having them say they were going to the same place (even if they weren’t) and then feeling trapped when her gut was telling her to get out of there.

  19. Mary Jackson

    Please don’t hitchhike it’s not safe, my sister almost got killed by a guy she got into a car with. This maniac later killed a federal DEA agent, Everett Hatcher. She and her friends had accepted a ride from Gus Farace. Luckily she was able to get out of the car and away from him. He made sure to drop off her friends first and then drove to a low populated area of NYC and tried to rape her. She jumped out of the car and ran away.

    This man Gus Farace, later killed Everett Hatcher a DEA agent in a drug bust which went wrong. You can google his name….a movie was made with Tony Danza afterward. Ladies, please be careful, you only have one life.

  20. Dillon

    I’m a 17 year old Asian American looking to hitchhike across the U.S., but afraid I’ll be discriminated against. Are my fears irrational or reasonable? I would gladly appreciate some help or advice. Thanks.

  21. KJ

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am a 43 year old mother/grandmother as well as nurse. I have been feeling an overwhelming amount of wanderlust the last 2 years and have finally decided that I only live once so I might as well just go for it all. I have longed to see as much of North America as I possibly can on my own terms.

    I have been weighting my options, making lists, and trying to determine which adventure to take first. I think that I have found it and am so excited. I plan on hiking, with a bit of hitching thrown in areas that are conducive to helping me visit certain places. I am currently now designing my trail to blaze and found you in the process. You gave some great advice as did some of your posters.

    Thanks so much!


  22. Pauline M.

    Hey Matt !

    Thanks for this article it’s so helpful and encouraging ! I’m planning on hitch hiking in June on the West Coast, just to go from Portland to Frisco. As a woman I know it’s more risky, but I don’t want my gender to stop me. I was wandering if you had any opinions about the west coast, if it’s safer in general, etc. Thanks!

  23. Shandu

    Hey Matt,

    Nice article. I’ve been lucky enough to have hitchhiked the States, Canada, Europe and a good part of Asia (a bit more difficult these days), and your tips are spot-on. I always tried to have maps of 1. truck stops along the highways (great place to stop if getting dark, and you can doze in the stop’s restaurant booth with you sign propped up and 2. roads entering and leaving a city (along w public transport out of town). Good luck with your future travels !


  24. Melli

    Hello there. Actually it’s everyones own business to hitchhike or not. But if you are a woman, PLEASE DONT! Yeah, I know. ‘No one will ever rape me’ or ‘How big is the chance to be killed or raped?’ < I'm sorry but there is no so called 'chance'. It can happen to EVERYONE. There are so, so many psychos and weirdos out there. And the statistics are Bullsh**. A dead person cant respond to police, we all know that and many bodys wont be found. The persons are missing for forever. And more than 50% of raped women dont go to police and tell them. So the statistics are totally unrealistic. Please.. dont hitchhike and if you have to and have no other option ALLWAYS take a weapon with you. Pepperspray, telescope nightstick , taser-grun or anything but DO IT. I dont want to sound angry or crazy but I could cry everytime I see girls and women hitchhiking. I was raped and I never thought this would happen to me..like everyone does. Just never do it..never.

  25. Brody

    Pretty awesome read! My friend and I (both guys) are planning to hitchhike from east coast to west coast in the springtime of 2016. Had a question though: are you saying avoid hitchhiking in the banned states entirely? Or just a warning that you could get in a hassle with the cops?

    Thanks for the post again!

  26. mark geoghegn

    I have hitched-hiked all over the US, especially in the 70’s. Now I hope that with smart phones, etc., a data-base of hikers and drivers could be established globally. I’ve called it: IHA—International Hitchhikers Association. Safety vests, with IHA logos, travel pins, stickers could all be added. Bring back road freedom, adventure, friends and new friends. HITCHHIKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!!!

  27. Wicked!

    I hitch hiked across the Balkans earlier this year and can’t stress how amazing the people were. I never felt in danger (expect for a few fast drivers), and was treated to some pretty selfless hospitality – two different guys actually bought me dinner and beers at my destination.

    Hitch hiking is a great adventure! 😀

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