The world is yours, really, once your dare to step outside of your comfort zone. Thomas is my friend and the living proof of it, as he hitchhiked from the Netherlands to a Portuguese festival. Hitchhiking is a concept that has been sticking around for centuries, and I sincerely hope it will do so for a couple more. It can change one’s view on life and enrich one with unforgettable experiences.
Thomas and Hitchhiking
From riding horses to driving cars: transportation has had its evolution throughout the years. It may, however, sometimes be liberating to get back to the basics. Leave the car in the parking lot and mind to go hitchhiking. It may result in an unforgettable adventure. Back in the 30s, during the Great Depression, it was very common for United States citizens to hitchhike along the roads. According to Living History Farm, lots of people were low on money and had to find new ways of transportation. The amount of hikers increased so much that it raised concerns and later the counter effect of being criticized as dangerous and criminal.
I believe this counter effect did last for eternity. Still, when I talk about hitchhiking to people, first responses often imply assumptions like “what if one would never be seen again”, “one can never trust the driver” and “one will probably die.” A former lecturer of mine once said “assumption is the mother of f*ck-ups”, hence I like to recall his accuracy. I enjoy believing in solidarity and that we can connect more by giving each other the chance. Connect in a way that would have been spilled if not doing something as beautiful as helping out. My friend, Thomas, is the best example I can illustrate.
A long time ago, Thomas told me he had this plan of hitchhiking to a festival in Portugal. I knew him for a couple of years already. We often reflected on our thoughts and walked around in our home city in the Netherlands. I had great admiration for his idea, but semi-concerned responses of mine followed. “Where will you start at? What if you are not going to get picked up by anyone? What if you meet bad people along the way?” Even though a voice in my head said that I should chill down and remember my beliefs, I just hoped he would be alright. “I will start in Utrecht”, Thomas said, “and intend to reach the Portuguese festival in a full week. The key is to believe in fellow humans, and neglect thoughts of them to be bad.”
It felt romantic to imagine a successful trip and actually reaching Portugal in a week. I mean, we are talking about a nearly 1300 miles distance. Surprisingly, Thomas reached it very early. He told me that he had the time to chill at a Spanish beach before proceeding with his trip. “What a hero”, my brain thought. Thomas explains that it was one of the best things he has undertaken in his life. “It is a wonderful experience, but it is very intense. At some points during the trip, it seems you do not make progress. My fellow hikers and I were sleeping next to a gas station, in our tents. In the middle of the night, some sprinklers went on and completely soaked all of our baggage. We were freezing!”
“I can highly recommend you to hitchhike”, Thomas continued, “as you meet so many beautiful people on your way. I tell you, life starts outside of the comfort zone.” With growing wanderlust, he bought a characteristic hippie van. His first adventurous trip became motivation to see more and more of the world.
Obviously and undeniably, one should be precautious when planning on hitchhiking. Let people know when, where and with whom you intend to go. Buy a sufficient outdoor bag that properly carries your living essentials, such as flashlights, black markers and a map of the area you are about to visit. Keep in mind to not bring useless items. Construct multiple ways of reaching your desired destination. Take some cash money with you, to conquer unexpected obstructions. And, last but not least, enjoy the journey to the fullest!