That’s one of the questions i hear the most — typically about whether i’m not afraid of people, not traffic.
— largely of traffic, but a bit afraid of people also, i must admit — how could i not be? — i’ve been taught throughout most of my life to be suspicious of strangers, and i always feel apprehensive entering a new country while cycle touring, or another car while hitchhiking — gosh, i’m often apprehensive meeting my “Couchsurfing” host/guest for the first time!
Whether or not i’ll finally manage to update this misleading intuition, i’m not sure — for now, i’ll just share some of the questions my overwhelmingly positive experience on the road so far have raised.
- What’s your own attitude? How do you behave as a stranger to someone else? Is your immediate impulse to assess how you could benefit from the situation to their detriment, or to consider what you can offer in answer to their request and in support of their mission?
- I find it hard to believe it is former — why is that? — are you that much better than the average person out there?
- I also don’t think so — aren’t we simply more likely than not to get the same indifference at worse or kindness at best from a stranger that we would show them were the roles reversed?
Indeed, there are plenty of stories of long-term, overland travelers being harmed in all sorts of ways — robbed, raped, beaten up, kidnapped, murdered, you name it — we’re not immune to the ills of the world those traveling in more conventional ways (or not traveling at all) also report, possibly at higher rates in some cases — a quick Google search will yield several studies and reports over the past few decades suggesting that the majority of victims of violent crime knew the perpetrator.
I’ll leave the research and statistical analysis up to the interested reader 🙂 But here’s one thing we can objectively do right now to make hitchhiking and cycle touring safer: drive more carefully 😉
got no time or money to travel? — i beg to differ!
I am hard at work on a budget long-term traveling tutorial consolidating all i’ve learned over my past two years on the road — sign up for the Not Mad Yet mailing list, and be among the first to hear about it when it’s out!
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On the photo: hitchhiking with my wife in Ukraine after dark and under moderate snowfall (January ’18)