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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Basic guide to hitchhiking

Why the hell would anybody want to put their life in danger and hitchhike? We'll mostly because it's free and it still carries this cowboy culture that a lot of people romanticize and respect.Thumbing your way across the country is quite an experience. If you're going to do something like this you have to be prepared to go through hell. In the long run though it's all worth it and it's an amazing memory.

Step one: Pack your bags. If you can bring only what you need and if possible send your non essential baggage ahead through the mail. It's an expense but it's better than having to carry it all and risk it getting stolen. You're going to need a place to sleep like a tent or sleeping bag, anything you need to cook and start fires, clothing for the climate you're going through, and the all important large tipped sharpie pen. Make sure this bag can sit on your lap for twenty hours comfortably.

Step two: Plan out your ride. Make sure you carry a map of the whole country you're traveling through with major roads and highways. Pick a route and stay on it as best as you can, it's ok to adapt but there's no sense in getting lost or going way out of your way. Google maps is your best friend when it comes to choosing routes. If somebody isn't going your way turn down the ride, there's always the next car.

Step three: Pick your first location to get your ride. Gas stations and intersections near highways are great places to find rides. Don't stand by the on ramp, the cops will pick you up, it's happened to me before.

Step four: Stick out that thumb! The hardest thing about getting a ride is that people seem to hate you. Maybe not but after four hours standing at the road you start to think so. Even worse when cars will pull over to pretend to pick you up and then speed off. BUT it is possible to get a ride as hard as it seems. Make a sign with clear bold letters of where you want to go. If you're traveling large distances only put a few towns over and just try to hop from large cities. Some people like to put some flair into it by dancing, waving their arms and signs around, and putting jokes on the sign next to their destination.

Step 4.5: Ways to improve your chances of getting that ride. If you're a man it's best to travel alone or with a woman. Not very many people are trusting groups of strange men in their car. If you're a woman you should bring a friend, preferably a man to protect you from sexual advances. Try to keep clean and look normal, nothing will turn people off more than ragged clothing, a shabby beard, and that cowboy hat.

Step five: Safety. First things first, no matter how long you've been waiting for that ride, when you think something is fishy don't get in. I've had EMTs tell me stories of finding stabbed and raped hitchhikers. It's still a dangerous journey so it's best to be prepared for danger. So I recommend sticking a knife in your bag even if it is illegal, the cops can't check unless you're doing something illegal or give them permission. Another thing to carry is a can of pepper spray, it's very effective in a car. So effective I might add that you're probably going to get some in your face too. If you can't get pepper spray a film canister full of finely ground pepper works on the fly.

When you get into a car always check the handle when the door closes and check for a childlock if you get into a back seat. Keep you bag on your lap and if you stick it in the back make sure you can lose everything in that bag and not care. It's a huge risk that you're going to lose it. If you're in a car and they refuse to pull over a easy way to make them slow down is to take a roll of toilet paper, light on fire, and throw it in the back seat. Another risky way is to yank the wheel force them off the road. The point is to slow the vehicle enough to bail out and roll.       

Have fun and always remember: safety safety safety!

Friday, January 7, 2011

So you ran out of money... now what? Part 1

I'm writing most of these off of my own experience or stories I've heard so part two will come when I find more ways.

~Donate plasma: They hook you up to a machine for about two hours and separate the plasma out of your blood. Pays anywhere from $25-$75 depending if you can get in a trial or how many times you've donated before. Your first time should take about four hours and decrease down to two after they finish the initial testing and know you're safe. WARNING CAN LEAVE TRACK SCARS

~Sell sell sell!: If you have anything you don't need or want at that moment or the foreseeable future sell it. Go ahead and sell it for cheap too, it'll save you bag space and remember five bucks can feed you for a day.

~Hobo chef: Get some bread, cheese, and butter. Make a hobo grill and make a ton of grilled cheese sandwiches. Then buy a cheap styrofoam cooler and wrap the grilled cheese sandwiches in some tin foil and stick them in the cooler to look legitimate. You can do this with hot dogs easily too. Go to a large event like a high school football game and sell for a buck a piece. Dress clean and cook them right to make more money, doing this improper can get you in trouble if people catch on to you. 

~Dumpster dive: Go to places that sell video games and look for any games they've thrown out and sell them to Gamestop. Any places that might sell something of interest that's quick to sell usually has something useful in their dumpster. Use Craigslist to sell things you've found. 

~Craigslist: Look under gigs and see who needs yard work done. If you have a skill see if you can use it to earn some cash. Writing and computer repair jobs are fast and easy to find on Craigslist. It's also better than standing on the corner with Mexicans
~Stand on the corner with Mexicans: shit pay and hard work. But hey a mans gotta eat right? Most of the work is cleaning, moving, or yard work. Expect to be tried to be cheated out of your money. Also if you speak English you have a higher chance of getting picked up than most.

Feeding your face for the day

Ways to get food in your belly when the going gets tough.

For a days worth of food you're going to need about five dollars. Getting the money can be tough but five bucks a day is pretty doable.

~Fast food: If you got a Taco Bell, go to Taco Bell. The dollar menu is very filling there and best choice for value out of the fast food chains. For any restaurant go there when they close and employees should still be there closing for about an hour after. See what food they're throwing out for the day. Try to aim for places that need to make daily food like donut shops, bagel shops, and pizza places.

~Buffets: Places like Cici's and Golden Corral are cheap for an all you can eat buffet. The best part? They're easy to steal food from and walk out. You can get two days worth of food from one trip costing about six to seven bucks. 

~Learn to cook cheap: Noodles and rice can be mixed with seasoning for a filling quick meal you can cook with a hobo stove. Light to carry and cheap to buy.

The dodgy ways:

~"Ask directions": If you have a vehicle go to the first window and just ask directions to the nearest walmart. Pull in between the two windows and fiddle with something in your car and wait for the car behind you to order and pull up to the first window and pay. This is where you pull up to the second window and hope the car behind you ordered a lot of food and take off.

~Order pizza: Call into a pizza place and order 4-5 pizzas about two hours before they close. Say you're going to come in and pick up the pizza in about thirty minutes. Never come in and instead come in right after closing and and pick them up out of the trash. The box should protect them.

~Hotels: Go into a decent hotel in the morning before breakfast and wait away from employees eyes. Come down after breakfast starts and other people have gathered. Eat as much as you want and see if you can carry anything with you.

Last resort ways:

~Dumpster dive: Yeah it's gross but it's free and easy. I haven't come to this yet but I would if it meant I might go hungry. The amount of walking I would do would kill me if I wasn't eating enough.

~Scavenge: Go to the mall or other places where people leave food trays out. You'd be surprised by the amount of uneaten food they just leave.

~Make a friend: When you travel you'd also be surprised the way certain people view vagabonds. Some people are willing to give you a hot meal or a cheap cup of coffee to hear some stories.

A place to lay your head

Finding a place to sleep is rough, even more so when you're hitchhiking. The last thing you want to do is fall asleep in a stranger's car. So here's an outline of some places to crash:

~If you have a car find a parking lot for a night. If you don't have a car try a site like It's going to cost some gas money though.

~If you're hitchhiking get a tent. Or you could do what I did and bring extra jackets or hoodies and wrap yourself tight and sleep on top of a park bench. I recommend sleeping during the morning before the sun rises and wake before noon, less chance of getting trouble from the locals. The roughest time to get a ride is 12 am to 8 am anyways.  

~If you got friends use them for a bit. After you've been on the road for a while it's nice to crash on someones couch and get a nice shower for a couple of days before you hit the road again. Or you could use sites like

~All night diners aren't really a place to sleep but it's a warm place to stay for most the night when rides are hard to come by. A five dollar menu and a decent sized tip can get you a place to stick around till morning. It's cheaper than a motel.

~Dumpsters. Now hear me out I'm not talking about ones where you stick food but there's plenty of cardboard only dumpsters and they are warm. I stayed in one when it was freezing out and my pack got locked in the persons house I was staying at that night. Cardboard is pretty cushy too.

Preparing your pack.

The all important pack. When your on the road it's the only thing you have to keep your day from going to hell so it's pretty important to be well prepared. I was in a sticky situation and left my pack were I couldn't get it for roughly three days. Worst nights of my trip by far.

One problem though: I can't tell you everything you need to pack. You need to adapt as you go and prepare for your own situation beforehand. What I can do though is give you ideas for necessities that you can bring along.

~The bag: I recommend a hiking bag with some back support. Make sure it can comfortably sit on your lap for hours.  

~Clothing: Pack for the weather. If you're on the road an the climate changes sell off some clothes to buy clothing to fit the climate better. No matter where you're going bring a jacket or a hoodie, it still can get chilly at nights and in the morning.  CLOTHES WILL TAKE UP HUGE AMOUNTS OF BAGSPACE.

~Emergency food and water: Add in a couple water bottles just in case. Some can food is a good idea too if you can spare the space and weight.  

~Shoes: Make sure you can walk ten miles without wearing your feet out. I still have marks on my feet from last time.

~Maps: When you're walking getting lost sucks.

~Chargers: If you bring a phone or mp3 player you need to charge it.

~ID: You're going to need it at some point.


This is just the stuff I carry with me EVERYWHERE. When I'm bunking at somebodies house or have a safe place to stick my stuff I make sure to always have this packed because you never know whats going to happen. I have a smaller bookbag that I walk around town with and keep my larger bag where I'm staying with most my clothes and gear I don't need that day. For a complete list of everything you could possibly need and a easily customizable packing list I use this site.

Hello and Welcome!

I've decided to write this blog as a guide to being a vagabond. To start off what is a vagabond? Well it's pretty much like being homeless by choice. It's a little better off depending on where you are and how many people you know but at the end of the day it all depends on what you have in the pack on your back and the life choices that you made.

I wanted to share my experiences, stories, and help anyone thinking about being a future vagabond. It's a hard life but it's an experience I wouldn't give up for anything. This blog will consist of guides to surviving the streets for the night, where to eat, and how to stay clean. I'll also add in some stories of my own life, that I've heard, and hopefully people will send me in their own life experiences that I can help them share.