BENEFITING: Planting Peace
At some point in our life we all have the need to get somewhere. Hitchhiking has been a way to travel since the start of production-cars around the transition into the 1900´s. People have of course been getting rides with horses, camels and donkeys a long time before cars conquered the roads. But for the modern hitchhiker the start of the hitcher and car-era was in 1886 when the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, invented by Karl Benz went into production in Germany.
Getting rides with strangers might seem scary to some, but in my experience it´s one of the most exciting and safe ways to travel. The culture has changed drastically just in my lifetime - there is many reasons to this. Today, in a so-called rich countries, hitchhikers seem to be a threat to car-owners. A recognizable trend is that people with smaller and old cars, people with little or no money are the first to stop when you put your thumb out. Now, why is that?
Due to westernization and economic growth in many parts of our world, the modern hitchhikers are turning into a dying race. People are getting scared of picking up strangers partly because of over-exaggerated stories from television, news and the internet.
And yes, sadly, there has been episodes throughout history where either the hitcher or the driver have been treated badly. However, the positive experiences and meetings with people and different cultures on the road weigh up for all of those. After all, who is to say that you won´t get robbed taking the train or molested walking through the streets of a city or on the beautiful countryside. I´m sure i don´t have to tell you that bad people are found everywhere. I´m pretty sure that if you look into it, you will find that crime-statistics barely mention abuse or robbery of hitchhikers. Not to forget, in most countries hitchhiking is encouraged!
I once hitched with my boyfriend from southern Norway and up to northern Sweden, the journey took about tree days - Scandinavia in march is a very cold experience. After looking for a ride downtown a mid-sized city we finally got a ride with an old should-have-been retired man - now a professional photographer. He made us sign a notebook that contained signatures and messages from over five hundred(!) hitchhikers throughout his life. Not one bad experience! The man (he must have been at least sixty-five) still spent two months a year on the road around the world. When we talked to him he was planning a fourteen month trip starting in India. Now that´s a REAL hitchhiker!
In the big picture, going hitchhiking or «thumbing» is not which-craft. Usually I have never had to wait more than an hour or two to get a ride on main roads. The longest wait in my experienced was a cold february-night on my way from Paris to Norway through Germany. After being picked up by the police for hitching on the Autobahn they drove me to a small empty road where I stood all night long. Still in my summer-clothes after backpacking Thailand and Malaysia all winter, it was an extremely cold experience that at the time made me doubt wether there was any humanity left in the world.
This book is meant to inspire and inform you about the hitchhiking phenomenon. If you are a driver I hope the book can clear up some of the confusion and maybe make you consider taking in hitchers when you have the space. Especially for long drives a hitcher is most of the time extremely good entertainment - and let´s face it, we humans love sharing with strangers. As for you hitchhikers it might help your inspiration and hopefully equip you with the ethics, laws and history about getting around the world for free.
Where does the money go?
The writing is in full process and by the end of the summer it should be ready for print. I am already in contact with other hitchhikers that do want to contribute with their side of the story. I would like to buy their stories and let as many people as possible contribute to the book. There is also some PR and publication-costs for a book like this.
Other ways to help
Feel free to contact me if you think you can contribute in any other way for this project. I welcome anyone who think they have a way of supporting the hitchhiking phenomenon. I welcome of course royalty free stories and text that might find it´s place in a great guide-book to hitchhiking through people and cultures around our wonderful planet.