Hitchhiking is an experience that comes with a high degree of perceived risk. You'll find that many of the people around you will express concern, or strongly resist the idea that hitchhiking can be a relatively safe, incredibly enjoyable recreational experience.
You'll notice a strange thing when talking to others about hitchhiking. Everyone tends to respond very enthusiastically when you tell a hitchhiking story from your past – they listen in amazement at the strange situations you found yourself in, the unique people you met, and they wish that they could have the time and freedom to do the same. Tell a person about your plans to go hitchhiking, however, and they'll find every possible problem with what you're about to do; they'll project their own unfounded fears on to you until the smallest doubts can seem like impassable obstacles.
Successful hitchhiking requires confidence. Don't listen to these nay-sayers – unless a person is speaking from experience, they can be safely ignored. However, it is important not to be ignorant about the risks of hitchhiking. We'll spend a lot of time in this book talking about about what exactly these risks are and how to manage them, but for now you should know that the dangers of hitchhiking are much lower than is generally perceived. So long as you have good judgement and treat the people around you with respect and kindness, the odds of having positive experiences are vastly in your favour.