Try Something New: Hitchhiking

So there we were in the middle of the Outback with a van that can’t run for any longer than 2 minutes without overheating. Fortunately for us when we got towed into Tennant Creek we were brought to the one campsite, which resembled a death row for vehicles on road trips. The campsite itself had nothing wrong with it, but the back row of the grounds was filled side by side with broken down vehicles… Mostly old vans. Some people were lucky enough to have vans that could and would be fixed in the coming days. Our van being unfix-able ended up being mostly positive and barely negative.

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Loaded up onto the tow truck to be brought to the campground.

The Negatives

There were essentially two things that we considered to be negatives. One was the inevitable amount of stress trying to figure out what to do not only with the van, but everything inside the van we accumulated. The other one was that we were left about $5000 out of pocket with the value of the van and the extras we purchased. In the end the negatives didn’t have an incredible impact on our experience. Sure we lost some money and were stressed for a couple days, but the memories from it were incredible.

The Positives

In this sort of situation, you have to stay positive to keep yourself sane. We were able to help many campers with their costs by giving away everything inside the van. This included fishing gear, motor oil, coolant, pillows and sleeping gear, maps of Australia to tour around, and our cooking equipment. Everyone was very appreciative of us giving our things away and it was a good way to let everyone know about our situation. You’d be surprised at the amount of people that wanted to help us and it was very encouraging. We met some amazing couples who were traveling in retirement and loved that we were experiencing life on the road at a young age. We also ended up meeting the couple that would eventually give us a lift 500km south to Alice Springs to catch a flight to the west coast.

In this post I’m considering “hitchhiking” to be getting a ride with complete strangers. This can also be done online depending on which city your in through ride share posts on Kijiji, Gumtree, Craigslist, and any other online marketplace where people are looking to help one another. As we were giving our things away we ended up telling people that we had to find a way to ditch the van (the scrapyard wanted $200 to trash it and we were already $5000 out so we decided against that) and find a way to Alice Springs because it had the nearest airport. We told people that we were going to head to the main road and just try to hitchhike down to the 500km destination. Lucky for us most of the people camping were in their 50’s and ended up having children about our age. This caused them to be concerned about the idea of us trying to find a ride with people just driving by and word got around the campsite pretty quickly.

That’s when we were surprised by everyone’s efforts to look out for our best interest. Within a couple hours there was a couple that came forward and said they could give us a lift all the way there. They didn’t want anything bad to happen to us along the way. They didn’t even want us to help out with money for gas even though we offered. This was just the type of people we were surrounded by and is the true personality of most Australians. They typically just want to help in whichever way they can.

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Where we ended up leaving the van.

The ride ended up being quite interesting and the 5 hours went by like it was nothing. We talked about what our adventure entailed so far, what we planned on doing the rest of our year in the country, what they did for work, their religious beliefs, and about their story and family life in general. I will never forget that drive and their willingness to help us. Although, there will always be one line from that trip that will stick in my head. At one point we were talking about riddles and he started the “which came first, the chicken or the egg?”. We go along with it not knowing where this was going and say “I don’t know… which one?”

“You know, I really worked myself up about this riddle before and one day the answer just came to me. One didn’t come before the other. God put them both there and there is no reason to look any further than that. It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders once I solved that riddle. All you have to do to be relaxed is trust in God and that he put everything there for a reason.”

We are not very religious people. Hayley and I looked at each other in the back seat and I was trying my hardest not to laugh. I didn’t want to be rude and make it seem that I disrespected his views on life. It was just one of those things you don’t hear very often and it took every ounce of my energy not to let my giggles out. Regardless, I will be forever thankful for their help getting us to Alice Springs.

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A picture while we were getting a ride. A sign stating there is no speed limit, just drive to the road conditions/as fast as you feel is safe.

They dropped us off after giving us their contact details so if we were ever in their area of Australia we could stay with them. We left with a new appreciation for people’s willingness to help and not to rule out hitchhiking or taking a ride with others. Please listen to your gut instincts when looking for a ride with strangers and take proper precautions to ensure you don’t end up in a bad situation. Stay aware of your surroundings and if you sense any danger get out as soon as possible and any way you can.

We checked into our hostel and only stayed for the one night. The next morning, we were on a plane to Perth. Within 24 hours we went from having a van and planning to live out of it for another month while driving north to without a van and on our way to a little town called Dunsborough just 3 hours south of Perth.

Little did we know it would end up being our home for the next 6 months…

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Justin Benoit

A Canadian guy just trying new things.

One thought on “Try Something New: Hitchhiking”

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