I ran out of money and had to curtail my trip to New York and the wider U.S.

I had imagined following in the steps of my sister and going down to Mexico, then possibly into Guatemala, Honduras and further on. I didn’t make it. I still haven’t made it.

Back in England, out of university, living in a squat and playing in a band, I had no money, but I still needed to travel.

I had some experience hitchhiking. I put this to use and expanded on it.

I did a bit of research – I asked people, and I looked at maps – I gathered data.

An acquaintance was a truck driver, so I asked him about busy junctions and traffic flow.

I also researched my routes. I had two main ones: Nottingham to Whitley Bay and Nottingham to London.

Both were straightforward enough, but I quickly learned that while sticking out your thumb gives a certain amount of useful of information – I need a lift – not as much information as a sign with your destination: Whitley Bay.

I then found most people didn’t know where Whitley Bay was, and while most people had heard of Newcastle, not all knew the best way to get there.

Cardboard boxes and a marker pen soon set them on the right track.

The north
M1, M18, A1

Simple instructions letting people know what I wanted.

It was very successful. I don’t recall ever having to wait more than 20 minutes for a lift.

In my own country, mixing with people I was familiar with, I never felt particularly at risk.

However, to mitigate any risk, I’d picked up a couple of techniques from some hitchhiking veterans.

I never actually used it, but I always had an apple and a penknife in my pocket or in my bag.

The thinking was, if there was a hint of menace, or the situation turned risky, taking out the apple and peeling it with the penknife would let the other person know I was potentially armed.

I’m very glad I never had to use it.

I’m also very glad I did my preparation, got out a clear message, and had contingency plans should things go wrong.


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