Rules of Thumb: How to Hitchhike and Live on the Road
Eight years ago, at 24, I had already spent over half a decade thumbing lifts across America and Europe on a shoestring budget. Most people think of hitchhiking as a precursor to a grisly death. But it was the most fun I knew how to have. So I sat down and wrote a guide on how to do it.
Although Rules of Thumb: How to Hitchhike and Live on the Road wasn't a best seller, it did sell. I was happy to notice after a few years it has a modest collection of 5 star reviews on Amazon.
The world has changed a lot since Rules of Thumb was first published. Society is more divided, weather is more extreme, transport is more expensive, work is harder to find. The perils of travel seem greater than ever. Sadly, someone turning 18 today probably doesn't have the same opportunities that I did.
And yet it seems like the perfect time to go hitchhiking.
The resistance is the same as it always was: a fear of strangers, a fear of discomfort, a fear of not arriving (or perhaps not even getting picked up) - in essence, all fears of the unknown. But there is a new necessity. The best destinations of previous decades are now overcrowded and superficial. And cheap travel isn't so cheap any more.
Hitchhiking offers something rare and precious in our modern world: the road not taken. A chance to do something different; a chance to pass through foreign lands as a guest, not a tourist; and often, it's a chance to give something in return - the comfort of good company - perhaps even a lifetime of friendship.
Making the world a better place, one ride at a time
Hitchhiking brings us together. A good ride renews faith in humanity for all who shared in it. But for those who've never hitchhiked before, it's a daunting task, and one that can easily go wrong.
That's why I wrote Rules of Thumb all those years ago. You can buy it in paperback or on kindle but, from day one, I've also given away a pdf version of the book for free. And as of today, I'm now distributing the full text on this open-source website for easier reading, sharing, and learning.
A platform for diverse voices
Everyone can hitch.
I want this website to be a platform that amplifies the voices of people from every background, an inspiration to those who would otherwise limit themselves in the belief they're missing some important quality that would allow them to hitchhike and live on the road.
If you have a story you want to tell, or advice you want to give, or even counterarguments to the content of this website, please get in touch. I'd love to publish your articles, link to your blog, app, book, podcast, or whatever other content you're producing to encourage others to travel safely, meaningfully, and with little to no money.
An ongoing project
Much of the content of Rules of Thumb is out-dated. I'll be continuously re-writing chapters with advice that better fits the challenges and opportunities of today's hitchhikers, as well as writing new articles with advice on areas that weren't previously covered. If you have any suggestions or constructive criticism, contact me.
Until then, I'll end this introduction the same way I ended the book:
A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single thumb.
Chris Drifte travelled the world on a shoestring budget for the better part of a decade before writing Rules of Thumb, sharing his hitchhiking advice with thousands and earning ★★★★★ on Amazon.