My 7 year overseas adventure was soon coming to an end.
Phase one was teaching English in Japan, phase 2 was backpacking through Asia, phase 3 was studying in Australia, phase 4 was couchsurfing through Australia and New Zealand, and now we had come to phase 5 which was hitchhiking up the West Coast of the US from Los Angeles to Vancouver. I had been to Los Angeles and Las Vegas briefly when my good friend Jason Lin and I took a Greyhound Bus from Vancouver to Las Vegas. However, this time, I wanted to spend a few months exploring the beauty of the West Coast. Since I was on the last leg of my journey, my finances were tight so I stayed with locals for free using Couch Surfing, ate for cheap whenever possible, and hitchhiked my way from city to city up the West Coast of the US.
I had done some hitchhiking in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand so I knew what to expect.
Some tips I have learned about hitchhiking:
1) Always have a big smile and high energy
2) Stand at a place where it is easy for cars to pull over
3) Offer to pay for gas or help with driving
Sometimes, you might be standing on the side of the road for what seems like forever (even though it feels like longer, it’s usually only 30-45 mins before you get picked up). I had some amazing locals pick me up during my journey up the West Coast. Sometimes, it’s truck drivers, sometimes it’s other travellers, and at other times it’s locals who are looking for someone to talk to. I never felt at danger and always made some great friendships. I have even been asked if I needed a place to stay. It’s amazing the hospitality of strangers. We live in a world where people are so full of fear and afraid of everything. Traveling changes that perception at a deep practical level.
This journey started in LA, then I went down to San Diego and over the border to Tijuana, Rosarito, and Ensenada in Mexico. I then journeyed up from San Diego back to LA, then up to San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland, and Seattle. When I didn’t feel like hitchhiking, I took local buses and trains. However, my fondest memories weren’t sitting alone on a Greyhound or looking out the window on an Amtrak, the best experiences were when a friendly car stopped, picked me up, and said, “Where are you heading?” It was the start of many amazing friendships some of which I still maintain today.
Have you hitchhiked before?
I would love to hear about your experience!