Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: The Hitchhiking Crash Course

Matt Forney (left) pictured during his coast-to-coast hitchhiking quest

Why do we read books? I contend that it is to acquire experience and knowledge that we would not otherwise get in our daily lives. When I first heard about Matt Forney's trip hitchhiking across the United States, I thought he had to be insane.  Hitchhiking seems like it would make Letterman's Top 10 list for "Best Ways to Get Chopped Into Little Pieces." It is a taboo act, something that parents and popular culture alike have warned us against.

I have mentioned Matt's flair for the iconoclastic in other posts, so it shouldn't surprise you that he makes a convincing case for hitchhiking being relatively safe, enjoyable, and a character-building experience. The book contains tons of practical information about the art of hitching, including:
  • What to pack
  • State-by-state legality of the practice
  • How to optimize your chances of getting picked up
  • How to deal with police
  • What to do in situations where you feel uncomfortable

For example, it honestly would not have occurred to me to take a picture of a car's license plate and text it to a friend before getting in. I also would not have considered the difference in getting picked up on different types of highways. These are just two of the many pieces of advice that Matt dispenses.

The only frustrating thing is that Matt alludes to several interesting situations during his journey but does not go into specifics. Dammit, I want to read some stories! Luckily, he is soon releasing the memoir of the trip as a companion to the current how-to guide, a work that I am eagerly awaiting.  In the meantime, pick up a copy of The Hitchhiking Crash Course even if you don't plan on hitching anytime soon. I learned quite a bit about a subculture I had no prior knowledge of, and picked up a few pointers that can be generalized for any sort of solo travel. 

Who knows; it may just motivate you to stick your thumb out and go on an adventure.

Click here to buy The Hitchhiking Crash Course

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