Prince Edward Island, Smulan77 on flickr

It was only a simple action - a small arm motion and the job would soon be finished. So why was I so afraid? From where was this apprehension coming? I reasoned with myself that thousands had gone before me and safely achieved this ambition. The worst worry could only be the comments made about me, ones I would never hear. I kept turning around to take note of those who would soon pass me up. Finally, my tiring feet and aching back convinced me to raise my arm to the side and with the slightest movement, stick up my thumb.


Prince Edward Island is a hitchhiker's paradise. The picture perfect towns, rolling hills of potato plants, and unending cliffs and dunes give the island its laid back attitude and friendliness, as well as reasonable safety. With only one sweep of cars, a local picked me up with whom I carried on a lovely conversation down the 65 kilometer drive. However, my second day of hitching proved far more challenging. First, an elderly gentleman took me a short distance and then left me in the middle of nowhere, which is almost anywhere on the island! I walked about 45 minutes as plenty of rental cars and a fair amount of Quebec license plates zoomed by. A number of red dirt stained dump trucks also lumbered past without stopping. I began to become discouraged, wondered if the coyotes would soon be my traveling companions. My bag grew heavier with each step; my arm and thumb anticipated a permanent side-and-up position.

Drawing on my communication knowledge gathered this past year, I began to think of ways I might better persuade a driver. Should I look more pitiful and thus elicit empathy? Rain clouds were rolling in, would this benefit me or would I become miserable and provide free giggles to cozy children in the backseat of all those half-empty mini-vans?

I started to wonder if it was my technique of seeming passivity that kept cars flowing. I knew to be proactive, keep walking but doing so backwards, to give the driver more time to notice my non-threatening persona, only felt like a stare-down game.

I soon dug deeper into more far-reaching thoughts. Maybe the angle of my thumb was not wide enough? My finger was getting tired and I may have gotten sloppy with the internationally recognized physical request. As a last resort I thought of employing the ole stick out and bare the leg method. Unfortunately, I was already wearing Capri's so there was nothing more to show and besides, the last thing I wanted was to remind male drivers that I was a young woman in a vulnerable position. Alas, nothing seemed to be my fault, I could do no better, but be patient.

Eventually a sparsely toothed man picked me up, then a sweet elderly lady, then a hay bale truck driver. The latter epitomized my adventure on a heavily farmed island. Four cars and two hours later, I made it back to “the big city”, just in time to catch my shuttle.


My hitchhiking days began only a month prior to Prince Edward Island. Out of desperation I began this new page of my existence while in the Washington-DC metro area. Having missed the last bus by 2 minutes and with only $4 in my pocket, asking for a ride was my only option. Humans often accomplish unimaginable tasks when faced with no other choice. Then too, I was shown good hitchhiking karma when the first lady I asked said yes, ended up living only a ¼ mile further down the same road as me.

Hitchhiking is nearly a lost pastime. Fortunately, some baby boomers are enacting upon their mid-life crises by reminiscing and giving a ride to the next generation of penniless adventure seeking students. My experiences have been completely ideal, though I do not recommend risking your odds by hitching rides around the U.S. capitol. However, with an estimated savings of $300, all was well worth it. Will you be one to step along the side of the road and bravely raise your thumb?