Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Who says we can't?

by Emily Sullivan

My dad hitchhiked across the country—from Boston to multiple places in California and back—several times when he was my age. Now, with full understanding that that was the sixties, and that times are much different now, I am entirely sick of hearing that I can’t hitch because I’m a woman. This is my attempt to debunk this myth.

The fact is, women have great success hitchhiking because we are seen as less threatening. Women get picked up quicker, and are much more likely to be picked up by families and other women than are men. And the danger factor? Just use your brain! There are several strategies and precautions women can take to make hitching as safe and fun as it should be.

One strategy is to ask for rides at truck stops or gas stations, instead of on the road. This allows you to check out your driver before hopping in. Always memorize the license plate number, and send it via cell phone to a friend.

If you are on the road, ask the driver where he/she is headed before you answer. This way, you have a pretense for declining a ride if you’re not feeling right about it.

Don’t hitch at night, and don’t wear skimpy clothes. You don’t want to give the wrong impression. Also, don’t hitch when you’re tired, and don’t sleep on the ride. Be aware of where you are, and where you are heading.

Have some conversation starters in mind. Asking about spouses and family is a good way to send a hands-off message.

Pepper spray is a good thing to carry. Knives and guns are a no-go, because they tend to create more trouble than they prevent. Also, be mindful of the handbrake—you can always use this if something’s not right.

Most of all, have confidence! Hitchhiking is an amazing adventure. Why should guys have all the fun? The more women on the road—the more hitchers in general—the easier it will become for everyone. Happy travels!

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