It’s probably the understatement of the century to say that the glory days of hitchhiking are long past us. Even though hitchhiking as a form of travel these days is now written off almost entirely as stupidly dangerous, there’s a certain romance about the idea of grabbing a ride with a kind stranger and getting to know them as you make your way towards your destination.
That’s why we just want a taste of the hitchhiking life without having to actually get down and do it. Twitch live streamer Trevor Daneliuk’s channel hitch_live is the perfect place to go for that little taste. From making his signs to standing on the side of the road waiting for someone to pick him up to the ride itself, Trevor offers an intimate look into how to hitchhike, and exactly what it’s like to rely on it. We’re talking the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Trevor just finished hitchhiking across the whole country (yep, to all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii and the states where hitchhiking is illegal) and is taking a well-deserved break to plot his next hitchhiking adventure. From getting picked up by psychic vampires to trying to hitchhike on airplanes, he pretty much saw it all, and he was awesome enough to give us the inside scoop on what it was like hitchhiking across the whole country… and streaming it live all along the way.
What was life like before you started hitchhiking? What inspired the change?
TD: Before I started hitchhiking I was an accounting major in college. I started hitchhiking in the summer between semesters when I didn’t want to take the bus anymore, and once I started I didn’t go back to school. I was pretty bored in my program and found a lot of joy and interest in hitchhiking. Since then I have been to 25 countries while hitchhiking and picked up over 950 times. It has become a lifestyle for me.
Where are some of the coolest places you’ve been on this trip through the US? Are there any cool places you stumbled across because you were hitchhiking that you wouldn’t otherwise have found?
TD: The coolest places that I stumble across on my travels are when the people who pick me up hitchhiking invite me to come into their home. They bring me into their lives and I get to see how they live. That’s the type of experiences that I don’t think you could replicate with any other method of travel. There’s a whole lot of natural beauty in the US, and I’ve seen a chunk of it now. I love the outdoors so getting to see the different landscapes all over the country is amazing. But what is really important to me are the connections I get to build with the people I meet, and I am really grateful for getting the chance to do that through my method of travel.
What kind of people pick up hitchhikers? What do you talk with them about? Who is the most memorable character that’s picked you up?
TD: The types of people that pick me up vary greatly. Some are your average day-to-day type person, but others can be pretty different. Everyone has a story though, and a reason for picking me up. I find talking to the people that give me rides to be one of the most interesting things about the way that I travel. We tend to start the conversation by my asking why they picked me up. I find it interesting, and now especially with the stream, it’s neat for people to know what goes through driver’s heads when they see me on the side of the road. But depending on the length of the ride, I can get to know the drivers pretty well. We talk about what they do for work, their families, and sometimes they have even hitchhiked in the past. I like hearing their stories about what they experienced while doing something similar to what I’m doing now.
There have been so many memorable characters that have picked me up, it’s hard to choose. But some interesting ones were the private pilot who picked me up in California that taught me how to hitchhike on airplanes, the two guys in a van who picked me up and told me about how they draw energy from other peoples blood (vampires), the guy in Washington state who took me out to some bluffs to shoot some guns on day 1 of Hitchhiking America, a man in Oklahoma who told me he spent 38 in prison for shooting his nephew, and the travelers in an RV who picked me up and played a concert for the stream in Wyoming. The list really goes on and on, I’ve met innumerable really interesting people on my travels.
What got you into live-streaming this? What’s it like live-streaming your every move as you hitchhike? Do you feel added pressure with the live-streaming? Do you feel like the live-streaming makes hitchhiking safer?
TD: I have been hitchhiking for four years and I have always wanted to show people what hitchhiking is really like. This year I decided that live-streaming would be the way to do that because I can show the viewers in the most raw, unedited way. They get to see things as they happen, from the hours I spend waiting for rides to the exciting moments when I get picked up. Live-streaming every move is really a change of pace for me though. I am a rather kept-to-myself kind of person, so having a camera on me all day long is really different – you’ve always got to be on-the-ball. But really having the live-stream there has made this my favourite trip I have been on so far. I get to interact with people all day long – it makes it a much less lonely experience. I do think that having the live-stream going could make hitchhiking safer. People are much less likely to do something undesirable with a camera on them. But I have never really felt unsafe on any of my trips previous. I just have to make sure that I stay aware and ask drivers questions before I get in the car. Generally, I can get a good sense of the type of person they are and if they will be a safe ride through a short conversation. Sometimes you have to turn down rides, but that’s okay, a good ride always ends up showing up if you are willing to be patient and wait.
Any advice for aspiring hitchhikers? What’s something people wouldn’t expect about hitchhiking?
TD: Advice for aspiring hitchhikers would be to be confident, and be patient. Like I was saying before, not all rides will be safe/desirable rides, and sometimes they just aren’t headed where you want to go. You have to be willing to turn down rides and wait it out – that’s where the patience comes in. I have waited eight and a half hours for a ride before. But generally, my wait times are averaging closer to 30 minutes. It’s also important to pick a good (preferably legal) spot to hitchhike from. Having a decent sized shoulder on the road gives the driver space to pull over for you safely without putting themselves, other drivers, or you in danger. Also somewhere with a good line of sight for a fair distance – it allows them to see you and think about picking you up before they are passing you by. I think what people don’t expect about hitchhiking is that it can really be a relatively safe mode of transportation if you do it right. You get to meet incredible people and see places through the eyes of the locals. It’s a really intimate way to travel, and that’s why I love it.
What’s next after you complete your goal of hitting all 50 states?
TD: Now that I have completed all 50 states, I’m taking a short break at home to see family and friends before heading out on my next adventure. I plan to hitchhike and stream anywhere that I can that has good network coverage for the stream. I am considering Europe as my next big trip. There are so many neat places to see and coverage should be pretty decent around those areas. I would also like to take the stream to Australia, New Zealand, and many parts of Asia, but that is just a short list – I am always thinking about new places to go and ways to accomplish that.
Read more about the nitty gritty of his journey here. Follow along on his next adventure when Season 2 launches on Twitch at hitch_live and keep up to date on his Instagram @hitch_live. Show him some love by supporting his channel with a follow, a tip, or a subscribe as well.