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Hitchhiking After SHTF, by J.B.

Many of us have spent a lot of time thinking about how we would get home if things hit the fan while we are away from home, and hitchhiking hasn’t been on top of the list. The majority of us would have our vehicle there to hopefully drive ourselves back. What many people have not spent much time thinking about is how they would get home if the car wouldn’t start, if the car broke down on the way home, or if you had flown to a location and can’t get a flight back. I want to share my experiences that could be useful to some of the readers.


Disclaimer: I do not suggest using these methods unless necessary. They could be extremely dangerous. The risks should be weighed, and the decision should be made after much thought and prayer.

Who I Am

Let me tell you who I am. I’m a college student attending a school for gunsmithing. I attend a college that is three hours away from my parents’ home. Previous to starting college here, I bought and sold cars. After starting college, I still had one back home that needed to be sold. I decided to bring it back to sell here and decided to hitchhike back, to avoid anyone having to make the six hour round trip. It was not the safest or best idea to make, but I took precautions and tried to be careful.

My Hitchhiking Adventure

In my hitchhiking adventure, I started my trip back after getting out of class at the end of the week. Having never done this before, I soon learned that it is much harder than in the movies. I had a small sign that I tried a few different things on. At first I didn’t have much luck. A classmate brought me the first 30 minutes of the trip and dropped me off. I walked about a mile to the interstate where I waited for around two hours before I got the first ride.

People Scared to Pick Up Hitchhikers

I learned quickly that people are understandably scared to pick up hitchhikers. I originally wore a hat and sunglasses but soon learned that I needed to take these off. People want to see who they are picking up before they pull over.

My sign said things like going home from school or the name of my hometown. I soon learned that I had better luck without it. I just needed to stand by the road with a smile on my face. The best way to do this is in an area that has a view of you before and then a spot to pull over after, preferably in an area like a turn or a stop sign where they have to slow down and have the opportunity the think about it and get a good look at you.

Big Smile

The big thing that I learned was to keep a smile on your face. This made people much more likely to pick you up. Also, it is important to look clean, happy, and not have much baggage. People are more likely to pick you up if you do not look homeless.

Plan To Make Camp

It is important to remember that if you choose to do this to have a plan to make camp somewhere. I soon learned that after dark most people to not want to pick up a hitchhiker. If you are trying to do this nonstop until you get to your destination, then you will become tired and willing to get in the car with anyone that offers. When a person pulls over, approach slowly where they can see your hands. Do not get right in but approach the passenger window. I would speak to them a moment first, so that I could get a feel of who I was getting in the car with.

Don’t Be Afraid of Turning Down Rides

Do not be afraid of turning down rides. It is better to do this than to get in the car with someone you feel uncomfortable about. Regardless, this still can be dangerous. Many of the people who pick of hitchhikers have been in the situation themselves. This means they at least previously were homeless or had a drug or alcohol problem.

Not Look Like Most Hitchhikers

What I found was that a few of the people that picked me up had never picked up a hitchhiker before. I believe this was because I did not look like most hitchhikers. I looked like a college student with my backpack. Everyone that picked me up was very friendly and often offered food or water. I had my own food and water, so I did not except anything.

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After Dark

After it got dark, I noticed that a lot less people were willing to pick me up. I think a lot of this had to do with them not being able to see what I looked like as well. After dark I tried to be much more careful. At one point I had a man and his girlfriend pick me up. They were very friendly and offered the ride, so I accepted. After riding for a little bit, I learned that they had been drinking. Rather than get out, I stayed in the car. I probably should have gotten out but chose to ride to the exit they were getting off at rather than get out on the side of the interstate. Then, from there I found that there was not much traffic. I ended up walking to the next exit and was able to get a ride.

The next ride was similar to the first; he was very friendly, but I realized soon on that he had also been drinking. He dropped me off at a well-lit gas station and told me to be careful.

Decision To Carry

On my trip, I made the decision to carry. This is a decision you will have to make on your own. If it is legal in your state, there are still other risks you are taking. One person asked if I had a knife in my bag. I admitted I did. I was also carrying my concealed weapon as well that was not asked about.

Later in the Night

Later in the night I had a man ask me to lift my shirt up and spin around before I got into the car. At this point I had been walking for 12 or 13 miles. I explained that I was carrying and that everything was legal. He looked at me clearly thinking, then said if I wanted a ride he would give me one, but I had to unload the gun. I thought about it and decided that he wasn’t a threat, and I unloaded. Although I kept possession of my weapon, he wanted to hold the magazine. (A backup mag and weapon are both a good idea, preferably in pocket carry, which is what I chose.) This ride ended up being the sketchiest.

After speaking and driving no more than a mile, the man handed me the magazine back and apologized. He said he was just being paranoid. (Now he did pick me up at 3 am on a dark entrance ramp, so I can’t really blame him.)

When he handed the magazine back, he started telling me how he was robbed only a week before. As he rambled on about the things that they stole out of his car, I became suspicious. He listed a large amount of electronics, a gun, and a few other valuables. Then he said they stole his drugs. At this point, I knew it was time to get out of the car. After he finished explaining what was stolen, he turned to look at me as he drove down the road. He asked, “Would you like to buy some crystal meth?” For the life of me, I couldn’t keep a straight face and started laughing, but he was serious. After I explained to him I don’t do that type of thing, he went on about how I should never try it. He dropped me off at the gas station and then asked me to please not call the police on him. After assuring him I wouldn’t, I thanked him and got out.

Lessons Learned

  • Make sure that you have the gear to spend the night somewhere.
  • Try to make yourself look clean and well taken care of.
  • Do not wear sunglasses or a hat. People need to see who they are offering a ride to.
  • Try to make sure you are waiting in an area where the cars pass slowly and have somewhere to pull over at just past you.
  • Make sure that you have a good pair of walking shoes; you are probably going to need them.
  • Carry plenty of water and some food. You do not know when you will have to opportunity to get more.
  • Refill your water bottle every time you get the chance. Although they are heavy, you do not know when the next chance to refill will be.
  • Plan for blisters. A little moleskin could have been helpful.
  • A rain jacket is a good idea, as well as cold weather gear, if it will get cold at night. Again, you should plan on spending the night somewhere.
  • Extra socks would not be a bad idea. If you do much walking, you are going to probably sweat. It could help prevent blisters.
  • Make sure that you know the route to go, as well as have a map and not just a phone.
  • Don’t carry any unnecessary weight. I was used to walking a lot more miles than I did, but walking on asphalt is much harder on your feet than dirt.
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Moral of the Story

The moral of the story is, do not hitchhike unless you must. It can be dangerous, and you do not know who you are getting into the car with. As previously stated, you do not have to get in the car with anyone you feel uncomfortable with. You were walking before, and you can keep walking after.

This article is written to lay out my experiences and pass it on to the readers so they do not need to do this to learn. This shouldn’t be done unless there isn’t much choice. The risks must be evaluated. If something has happened, there could be a calm before the storm, in which case everyone needs to get home before things get worse. If you are on vacation or at a business conference on the other side of the country, this could be your only option of getting home other than walking, after things hit the fan. This is not the safest way to get home and will only be more dangerous after SHTF.

I cannot suggest that anyone hitchhike now, and it will only get worse then. Sometimes hard choices have to be made, and it is good to be as knowledgeable as possible about any that you may have to make.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 76 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value).

Round 76 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

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