From There to Here: Hitchhiking the USA

“Baby, I have an idea”, he said (He always has ideas. Sometimes they are good ones and most times they are crazy ones, but fun nonetheless. How could this idea possibly be any different). Not knowing what I was getting myself into I said, “What’s your idea love?” With a serious face, yet exciting voice he replied “Baby, what do you think about hitchhiking to California?”

As I stared at him dumbfounded, my mind was screaming things like: “WHAT!!! Come again. He is fucking losing his mind. This must be a joke. Yup, he’s crazy, where did he get this idea from ? How did we even get to this point?”

It started off with a simple question, what’s next?

My year of national volunteer service was soon coming to an end, and Ben was about to graduate. I finally came to the decision to get my MSW instead of continuing my path to be a pediatrician and Ben wanted to further his education at a design school that would truly challenge him.

So, the hunt was on.

In our search for schools, three locations came up. New York, California, and Florida. New York was quickly eliminated because we wanted to live in another state and we were completely over winters and being cold. (Hot weather year-round is a must especially since our last winter in NYC was a cruel one). Florida soon followed because though living there would be cheaper, and it was hot year around, it didn’t have much design opportunity.

Just like that Cali won. (Funny thing, neither Ben nor myself have ever been to Cali before.)

We had planned on just moving there without visiting. But when we found the schools we wanted to attend; it called for the perfect reason to get on a plane and visit our future home.

Ben found the Art Center for Design and I found the University of Southern California USC, both school were top schools for our chosen profession but we had a problem.

The schools were freaking expensive, and we didn’t have the money (somehow money always plays the culprit).

Then our mind pondered on ways we could make our tuition cheaper. Scholarships would not cover much and our savings was probably just enough to provide us with 6 months worth of rent. Then we thought, maybe we should become residents there first, that way we could get instate tuition, which is way cheaper.

So, the plan now was to live in Cali for 1 year and work before we go to school. I would work somewhere with kids that would make my resume look sexier and in the meantime, Ben would work for a company that would build his portfolio and enhance his design skills.

Change of Plans

Soon our plans went up in flames, for yet again another question.

A few months after making the decision to wait, we started to question whether we should go to school after that one year. What was the rush? School would always be there and experience would make us better candidates anyway.

We also figured that we are young and should live life a little before we got trapped in the life that society has constructed and force us to live. (We all know the life)

However, even with all the questioning, Cali was still in play.

Only that the plan changed to something like: Go to Cali for two years or until we get financial freedom and then from there we would travel the world. We would work to pay off our loans, which were the only things that were really holding us back from traveling.

All of this planning was happening in a matter of 6 months, July ’13 to Dec ’13, and no matter how the plans changed, our month of departure was August 2014. (We knew if we pushed back the date, that would mean holding it off and eventually not going at all)

When December came around, we still hadn’t bought tickets to Cali, though we knew that no matter what Cali was still the destination. (I know your probably thinking when the hell does hitchhiking come into play….well, guess what, the wait is finally over.)

Hitchhiking the USA

Now, Ben and I never planned on hitchhiking. It never even crossed our minds until New Year’s Eve.

Right before we were getting ready to leave to go to my Aunty’s house to celebrate the New Year, Ben ask me what I thought about hitchhiking to California. (He got this crazy idea after watching “Into the Wild”, which is a good movie. I recommend it if you need some motivation to travel)

Like most, my first thought was that he was crazy and it wasn’t safe (I mean had he not watch any horror movies) but just as quick as those negative images I saw in movies/media flashed through my head (this was way before I saw Into the Wild, or any movie that portrayed hitchhiking as a good or fun thing) was just as quick as I dabbled with the idea that maybe hitchhiking could be fun, or at least a hell of an experience.

I looked at him and responded, “let’s do it”. Not believing the words that came out of my mouth, I knew that statement came with both excitement and fear.

Meanwhile, Ben was super pumped. I am pretty sure he was jumping and screaming on the inside.

But it’s crazy how we got to this point, our plan changed several times, evolving and getting more exciting each time. Our plan was not detailed, we didn’t have an apartment line up or a job. We was just going to “wing it”, which is crazy because the both of us are control freaks and love planning (plus we figured because we were so awesome that when we would got there, jobs would be lining up to hire us… yeah right, just joking).

I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason.

It’s interesting because if we did have an apartment and jobs lined up, the idea of hitchhiking the USA would have never came to mind. We would have been stuck slaving away trying to pay back Uncle Sam.

Questions, Questions, oh and more Questions

The same thing that got us to change our mind about school was the same thing that made us cross Cali off our plans

You guessed it, questions. We began to question even more.

If we move to Cali, what will really changes?

How would it be different from what we are doing in NY?

Why are we putting off traveling?

What if something happen and we don’t get to travel after 2 years?

Why can’t we pay our loans as we go?

Why would we even tease ourselves with an adventure like hitchhiking and then go back to the regular life. Could we even go back after getting a taste of how it should be ?

The answers lead us to say, FUCK IT, LET’S DO IT NOW!!! 

School, loans, and the 9-5 job could wait. We are young and should strive to live life to the fullest, and do the things that make us happy, and working to retirement wasn’t it.

Since Ben and I have only travel some states along the east coast, we decided to see what else the USA had to offer. And since we were already excited about hitchhiking we figured why not hitchhike the USA. Just like that we gave birth to our first real adventure together.

It’s funny how things pan out, we went from thinking about school to doing something a hundred times different, hitchhiking.

Our plans changed several times and we were okay with it. We were fine with it mainly because we kept an open mind to each other ideas and the possibility that something awesome could happen.

When we plan something down to the core, we are more likely to miss out on those spontaneous and exciting moments, because we won’t do anything else but what’s on the plan. And because of that, we’re less likely to seize an adventurous opportunity even if it is slapping us in the face.We must be more willing to adapt our plans or ways of doing things in response to new opportunities, and new knowledge.

Plans never work out the way they are suppose too, so why not keep and open mind and be spontaneous.

“If we’re open to new ideas, and we welcome the chance for our ideas and goals to constantly evolve based upon new experiences we have in life and new information we receive or learn, it would only be natural that our plans should change often as well.” -Wandering Earl

That is exactly why, Ben and I are not planning every single route on our hitchhiking tour around the USA. We do hope to visit some states we always wanted to go to. Though we have a start date, we have no scheduled time to be anywhere (though we plan on following the warm weather), no place that we absolutely have to visit, and most of all no end date. If something comes along, I wouldn’t be surprise if we change our plans again.

Have you ever had something that didn’t go according to plan, but somehow you enjoyed it more than the plan itself ? If so share it with us, we would love to hear your stories.

The Author

Jazzy is a professional travel blogger and the chief editor of Road Affair. She has been traveling around the world with her partner in crime, Ben, since 2012.

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Comments

  1. That’s the right attitude for hitchhiking, you should never plan it. And even if you do, your plan is very likely to fail, as you never know who you will meet on your way, what they will recommend and where they will want to take you. But that’s the beauty of it… just let yourself get carried along the road.
    Good luck with your adventure, guys! We keep our fingers crossed for you!

    1. Exactly, we just picked some cities, and parks that we have always wanted to go to, but after that it’s wherever the wind blows. Carried away we will, and Thank you for the positive energy.

  2. What a awesome thing to do! I have to admit I’d be a bit nervous about hitchhiking, but I’d love to do it and I really love that you guys are going for it. It’s something I’d never even thought about, I’ve always loved travel for the unexpectedness and freedom of choosing your own path but your trip is taking it to the next level. The freedom of no real set plans and not knowing where the next day will take you – that’s so exciting. Can’t wait to read all about it!

    1. Hey Charlie,

      People are usually nervous (I am still nervous) but mostly scared when they hear hitchhiking. But you know what, it’s the things that scare us the most that are the ones that will give us the most gratification in the end. Just like you, travelling bring us freedom and we can’t wait to live each day as it comes. I think you should try it with a friend or significant other during your travel around the world in 6 months. I hear that it is actually very common in Europe and widely accepted in certain European countries. I look forward to reading your blogs on your RTW.

  3. What a cool thing to do! Love the quote by Wandering Earl by the way. Couldn’t agree more. Evolving plans are a sign of people who are open and ready to embrace everything the world has to offer. And there is no better time to do this than today, the 9 to 5 will always be there but you can’t say that about the opportunity and freedom to see the world exactly how you want to.
    After all, we live only once. So, all the best to you and I’m looking forward to reading about your adventures.

    Cheers!
    Natasha

    1. It is a lovely quote. I love how you phrases it, evolving plans. Plans that are constantly growing and changing. I’m gonna have to borrow that. We are excited to live a life different from the “societal lifestyle”.

      Thanks for the follow :)

  4. That’s great that you guys are doing this – very excited to hear how it turns out. It takes some guts to set out like this and the stories you’ll have as a result will be epic. I’ve only hitched in Europe, but really enjoyed the experience and met some very nice people in the process.

    1. It does take a lot of guts but that doesn’t mean I am not scared, it’s just that my desire to travel is stronger than my fear :). I can’t wait to meet different people.

  5. Artists never have crazy ideas, just different ones. :) Plus you know you’ll learn so much on the road. The thing I like the most about traveling are the stories we have to tell people.

    1. We are excited to learn the lessons of the roads, we have heard that the road has so much to offer and we are ready to embrace all of it!!

      We naturally tell ourselves things are crazy if we’re not use to it or it doesn’t fit our lifestyle. So, yes I agree, it’s not crazy just different.

    1. There is a quote that says,”the person who risks nothing, does nothing. He has nothing and is nothing. He may avoid sufferings and sorrows, but he cannot learn, feel, change, grow, or love. Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave. He has fortified his freedom.” (I totally forgot who it was from)… in order words, we just have to go for it because we can possibly gain so much from it.

    1. Hey, you never know. Look at me, I thought hitchhiking was crazy at one point and now I am about to do it with my partner. It’s funny how things work out.

  6. i used to hitch hike alot in my university days to get to the beach and around our small town in south africa!!

    not quite on the scale of the USA but i’m sure you will have a blast – you certainly seem to have that spontaneity idea nailed!!

    good luck

    :)

    1. Thanks Clay!! Hitchhiking is hitchhiking no matter how big or small. It’s also nice to hear that we can hitchhike in South Africa. Is hitchhiking an acceptable way of traveling in South Africa?

  7. Wow, this is exciting! I’m really looking forward to seeing how it works out. Although we’ve never tried hitchhiking before, we’ve got some friends who use it pretty regularly. It’s never really something I’ve thought about using here in North America but why not?

    1. We are looking forward to how it works out too! Your guess as to how it will go, is as good as yours. But you know what, the mystery in it adds to the fun factor of our trip.

  8. Wow awesome read. You guys definitely have the right attitude, no point spending all that time planning every five detail when there are potentially so many things that could make you change them. Hitchhiking sounds exciting! Would like to know how you guys get on! Have fun :)

    1. Hey Jessica,

      That’s exactly why California was always apart of the plan. Plus we love good/warm/hot weather. I won’t be surprise if we end up staying there for a month or two during our hitchhiking adventure.

  9. Wow, what an awesome adventure! It’s one of those things lots of people say they’d love to do, but not many people do… I know I’m much too much of a wuss for hitchhiking but it’s definitely a cool plan. Bound to lead to some crazy adventures :)

    1. We are looking forward to all the crazy adventures that this hitchhiking trip has to offer. I remember telling myself that if hitchhiking doesn’t turn out good, at least it would be a hell of an experience as well as an interesting story to tell someday.

      Plus Emily, you never know what you can do until you try !! Maybe try doing it in a city/ country where it is an acceptable form of transportation. Maybe even doing it with someone else or a group. Both are definite ways to ease the fear.

    1. No problem Kristina, and thanks for taking the time to read our post. We plan on blogging about all our adventures, thoughts and advice as well. So stick with us and you won’t miss a thing!

  10. I highly suggest, hitchhiking your way into Humboldt County and spending time in Arcata. Hitchhiking in Northern California is acceptable and normal and that town is just plain magical and I don’t mean for it’s pot reputation. It is the most quaint town with an interesting vibe.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion. I won’t be surprise if we end up staying longer in Cali then any other state. Cali just has some much to offer and we are looking forward to exploring it as much as possible.

      Thanks again, Susan !!

  11. Good luck guys! I´m sure it´s gonna be awesome and you will meet great people! I met some of the coolest people I ever met exactly hitch hiking! Looking forward to read about your adventures!

  12. Cool, guys! (: I’m always happy to read about people taking up hitchhiking.
    It’s been quite a while I don’t do it myself, and you just gave me that itching. I should be trying this soon again (:

    Safe travels

  13. There’s something that feels so free about leaving travels to spontaneity rather than plan!

    I can’t wait to see where you get to :-)

  14. You’re very brave. They beat that idea out of our heads in primary school, here in Canada. It’s also illegal to pick up anyone flagging cars on the road. Sounds like a fantastic adventure, though, and going across the US is safe enough in my opinion. Also – LOVE your spontaneity, it’s something you lose the older you get…

    1. Thanks Milosz, and in America they just turned hitchhiking into a bad, dangerous, crazy thing via the media. But according to other people that have hitchhiked the U.S. , they said that it’s not as dangerous as the media set it out to be.

    1. Hahaha !! We don’t plan on following it, it was a just an inspiration. Alaska is not on our list of places to visit at least not for this trip. However, we will make sure to have our bags packed with snacks just in case.

      (I hope you didn’t spoil it for anyone either lol)

  15. Love this! Exactly the right attitude. I think it’s good to research the destinations you really want to experience so you don’t kick yourself for missing out on something, but never plan your full itinerary. Especially if you’re travelling in SE Asia – I certainly had to go with the flow there haha. Love what you guys are doing.

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