I heard from Tom and Simon Sykes, editors of No Such Thing As A Free Ride?, a London-published 2005 collection of hitch-hiking anecdotes, essays and observations written by contributors from all walks of life and from across the globe. That book was serialized in the London Times and named Travel Book of the Week by the Observer. They also released Canadian and Australian "Hitchers of Oz" editions and now are aiming to publish a version of the book aimed at a US audience.
"It is clear that hitch-hiking enabled a great number of people to travel great distances, expand their minds and interact with others. Although hitch-hiking is an international phenomenon, we feel its place in American culture is significant and should be recorded."
Given the place and time I grew up, I’m afraid my view of hitchhiking may not match yours.
As a young woman in Berkeley California, I was very much aware of disastrous potential outcomes of hitchhiking and they far outweighed any urge to see the world without the resources to do so safely.
One that sticks in my mind are the details that came out during the conviction of Lawrence Singleton for his 1978 kidnapping, raping and hacking off the arms of a 15-year old hitchhiker named Mary Vincent.
She was picked up in my town, on the same street as my junior high school and only a few blocks from where I was sitting at that very hour in my 8th grade classroom being conservative and not running away from home or hitting the open road or just trusting fate and getting a lift from a stranger.
That notorious driver described by his neighbors as completely benign could have picked up me, if I had been dumb enough or desperate enough to try hitchhiking.
In this day and age – as in that one -- I can’t recommend it with a clear conscience.
They replied that the books don't intend to whitewash hitchhiking. So I wrote a piece for them: Uncool.