If you’re itching to go on a long hitchhike trip across the US but don’t know where to start, what to expect and what to prepare, here’s an account of my own coast to coast adventure in the US to give you an idea!
A little background…
I did this hitchhike when my outdoor adventure hobby was still quite new, so I was understandably nervous. My hike began on a lonely stretch of road in Oregon, as I resolved to go from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic. My primary form of transport would be hitching it with random strangers, getting to hear their interesting tales as I moved cross country – and I might share a couple with you one day too!
Previously, I’d gone on a road trip to the Canadian Rockies and on another one to the Grand Canyon, but those had involved the use of my own SUV. This time I wanted to experience what it’s like to be stranded with minimal resources! Check out this video for tips on hitching a ride and packing.
What was my route?
I didn’t have a clue. The only objective was to go from West Coast to East Coast. Since it was the summer, I mostly stuck with the northern States but I did take a detour through the cotton fields of West Virginia to experience the famous Southern hospitality! Sometimes it was back roads while at others long expanses of highway, and I enjoyed every bit of it.
Where would I spend my nights?
As I’ve already I said, I traveled light so I would be able to set up camp at the nearest suitable spot. I carried my trusty portable camping mattress with me so I could do some camping in the woodland or stay in campgrounds along the way. It took me a while to get used to the nighttime chirping of the crickets, but the view of the Milky Way was ample compensation.
Before I started this hitchhike, it took me some time to find the perfect mobile sleeping solution – my first camping mattress was too clunky to carry around over longer hikes, so I changed it in favor of an ultra-light model. Unfortunately, the new one turned out to be to flimsy to handle the excesses of extended travel.
I also bunked in cheap motels from time to time to brush up on my hygiene and connect to the world over WiFi. Over the course of my travel, I met kind people willing to let travelers share their homes and show them around. Some of the people I met were pretty keen on hearing about my ongoing adventure, and I quite enjoyed astounding them as I painted mental images for them of the sceneries I’d witnessed in the great outdoors.
But isn’t hitchhiking illegal?
Not absolutely, no. Of course it is illegal to ask for free rides on major highways since it puts drivers at risks, but you can pretty much do it without breaking any laws in most states at the ramp entrance to a highway. In any case, I did get a couple of warnings and a small fine, but I was never inside a jail. Take my advice and do your homework beforehand.
How did it end?
I concluded my hitchhike at New York City, an apt conclusion in my opinion, since if there is one city that has stories to tell, it is NYC with its diverse populace and rich background. You may think differently, but as the cliché goes, it is the journey and not the ending that matters. Happy trails!