A Letter of Advice to Solo Female Hitchhikers

Dear (self-identifying) women and (aspiring) solo female hitchhikers,

I usually don’t have solid advice as hitchhiking is very different from woman to woman. Heck, I don’t even identify as a woman per se. Above all, I don’t think of myself as someone in the position to give you advice, especially the unsolicited kind.

While traveling – whether that be by hitchhiking or not – you’ll be in situations I have never encountered. Some of my experiences will never happen to you. That’s in spite of our general similar experiences of going through life (being perceived) as women. The advice I’ve given you on “only listening to other female solo travelers/hitchhikers” is more about “not listening to men’s advice”; they’ll either tell you it can’t be done as a woman because it’s too dangerous, or they’ll tell you it’s completely safe because they claim to have had this experience. They don’t have this experience.

Those *two things men advise you – unsolicited or not – translate very roughly into two kinds. One is the “don’t leave your front door, someone will kill you”. The other is “I have no clue what I’m talking about, but go jump from a rooftop, I turned out fine”. Clearly, if you listen to either of these, you’re not gonna have a good time.

The point I’m trying to make is that men don’t and can’t have the experience you’ll get as they don’t know what it’s like to be a woman in a public space. Traveling/hitchhiking is like being in public space permanently. I could elaborate on how public spaces are considered men’s spaces if you’re not familiar, but other people have written on that better than I ever could.

My actual advice?

  1. Develop an instinct for bullshit.
  2. Don’t do things directly because other female solo hitchhikers/travelers are doing it.
  3. Make your own system of what works and what doesn’t by learning from every experience you have on the road.
  4. Simplify things when necessary, learn effective hand gestures to communicate while being culturally sensitive at the same time
  5. Get the hell out at the first signs of trouble, while not doubting your decisions. Your safety goes first and you’ll need to do whatever you think is best.
  6. Never panic, don’t show fear, always be in control.
  7. If you want to do something and you’re seeking advice, think about who you’re asking in the first place. And whatever they say next: take it with a grain of salt; it’s your decision in the end.

Out there, your mere presence is power – and empowering others to strip away constraints of their own.

Peace, love, and tranquility,

Iris // Mind of a Hitchhiker

* Third option!
Maybe you get lucky and a guy tells you “I don’t think I’m the right person to ask”. This guy deserves a cookie/high-five/adaboy/whatever you think is appropriate. EDITED 2021: no he doesn’t deserve a cookie; he did the bare minimum of basic human decency. The bar for men is so low it’s a tavern in Hades. Ask yourself why you’d ask a dude in the first place.

A little explanation:

I wrote this piece for someone who was seeking safety tips for hitchhiking via my Facebook page. She asked me where it was on my blog. So far there wasn’t anything tackling this or clarifying my position. So I decided to copy-paste my answer to her from Facebook on here. Of course, I added and edited a little.

This blog is not about giving (unsolicited) advice to other travelers/hitchhikers (m/f/o); it’s about sharing my experiences while hitchhiking and inspiring other people from their electronic devices with pretty awesome pictures and badass stories. I would never encourage someone to hitchhike by telling them “it will change your life!! Just do it!!” as I think that’s incredibly irresponsible and plain stupid. If these posts encouraged someone to hitchhike (while solo while female) it was their idea after all. I just showed that it’s not that radical of an idea (yet it somehow still is).

All the Q&A and other “advice” you might find on this blog should be read as a “What worked for me…” sort of thing, not an absolute truth.

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