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Hitchhiking & The Joy Of The Open Road

Janel Loi
Janel Loi
• 2 min read

When I tell people I love hitchhiking, I'm normally met with a blank stare or an incredulous, "Are you crazy, that's so dangerous!"

Here's why I like it so much:

No real plans or agendas.
No responsibilities.
No rules.
No rush. (Besides beating the sunset)

Just full enjoyment of uncharted paths and unexpected connections on the open road. Trust in complete strangers.

Plus the coolest people and conversations - I’ve been invited to many homes for beers and rakija and even granny’s sandwiches. It’s amazing how some people just dazzle you with their brilliance and charm.

My first hitchhike from Beauvais, France to Rouen, France. My friend lent me this jacket as I was freezing.

People have the misconception that people only hitchhike because they are low on money. Untrue! There's a whole world of magic hitchhiking offers when you let the events of the day unfold.

Hitchhiked a Maserati from outside a grocery store in the middle of a small town in Normandy, France. “Look, it’s a Maserati!” “Omg he’s stopping” Julian steps out of the car and asks us to get in. “WHAT, WE GET TO HITCH A RIDE IN THE MASERATI?” Take that, €25 SNCF train rides. Trying to get a ride out of Beauvais in the morning prior to this took a long time though, not going to lie.

Things hitchhiking taught me:

  • Being able to talk to anyone is a skill everyone can learn
  • You don't need to speak the same language to communicate
  • Serendipity is free –  all you need is an open mind
  • How to trust my gut when making split-second decisions
  • How to deal with rejection – I've spent hours watching hundreds of cars whizz by, but managed to still keep a smile on my face till someone picked me up!
  • The importance of planning, yet being able to pivot when things don't work out
  • Cardboard + markers are your best friend, but your biggest asset is your smile

Ever since I started by hitching a ride on a fresh-out-of-the factory car in 2014, I’ve hitchhiked a lot, sitting in rides with chain-smoking Croatians, speeding Schumacher-loving Montenegrins, suit-wearing Slovenians, holidaying Koreans and Belgians, fun Chileans with kids and even the General Manager of a pisco distillery. Old people, young people, couples and singles, it’s always been fun.

I'm still friends with some people whose cars I've ridden for a short while.

I owe the friends who introduced this open-hearted way of experiencing travel to me a huge thank you. Try it someday when the world opens up again, as a hitchhiker, or as someone who offers a ride. You'll feel alive.


Janel Loi

Marketer & Maker who loves following my curiosity. I love learning and building things and write a weekly newsletter, BrainPint!