Riding with strangers

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  • Driving
  • I’m a believer in the so-called ‘sharing economy.’ I’ve travelled to many countries across the world staying for free with locals using the website couchsurfering.com, stayed in beautiful rooms and apartments found on Airbnb, rented cars from individuals using drivy.com and Ouicar.com, and this year I’ve taken advantage of Bla Bla Car, the rideshare program popular across Europe.

    Today I’m leaving the south of France and heading to Paris and riding in a car driven by a stranger. It’s no different to hitchhiking I suppose, an activity that’s dwindled over the years mainly due to safety fears that are largely irrational.

    I’ve never actually hitchhiked which is odd given my adventurous nature when it comes to travel. I’ve picked up hitchhikers though, first in Australia, then in New Zealand.

    My first hitchhiker was a very friendly and, I think, slightly inebriated young man who thanked me for picking him up before his parole officer drove by. I pressed him on that rather off-hand comment and he explained that he wasn’t supposed to leave the confines of the town I was now driving toward with him sat next to me in my camper-van. He went on to reveal that he had recently been released from jail “for getting fucked up and fighting,” he said, adding that it was “you know, the usual stuff.”

    Perhaps I should try hitchhiking sometime. For now though, when I thumb a ride I’m thumbing the screen of my iPhone which makes up in convenience and predictability what it lacks in vagabond romance.

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