Why not? – Hitchhiking home  

The first question you probably have is ‘why?’

The answer is because at the end of every trip we land in Auckland and instead of taking our flight home to Wellington we crave leaving the airport and hitchhiking home. We simply don’t want the adventure to end, and emboldened by managing to get ourselves around and returning intact from wherever we have been gallivanting around, it is hard to resist the temptation. But then the reality of needing to get back for cats, dogs or work kicks in and we duly get on the plane.

So it has long been there as something we want to do.

The tipping point from ‘want’ to ‘do’ was meeting 4 Russian hitchhikers on the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan. They were fabulously bonkers – upbeat, optimistic, embracing life. They had literally travelled all over the place just by sticking out their thumbs. Even the Pamir Highway with its lack of traffic. They had tents and food and were not phased by anything. We admired their approach and it lit the fuse for us.

We came home from Central Asia with a renewed appetite to find our next adventure and a desire to seize life more, and we changed the question from ‘why?’ to ‘why not?’

A work trip to Auckland on a Friday for Marie gave us the opportunity. We didn’t fancy attempting it if the weather was going to be rubbish so we held off booking Emma’s flight up until the start of the week. With a reasonable forecast and the dog walker confirming he could have the kids any last excuses not to give it a go were removed.

We packed to be self sufficient; the tent and sleeping bags, a small cooker, a water filter. We’re not keen on tenting it, having a van has spoilt us, and the spring weather means a real chance of a cold wet night. But at the top of the list we put a positive relaxed attitude, closely followed by tea (we’re Brits after all).

We were excited to be giving it a go and wondered what route we’d end up taking and about the people we’d meet and where we might sleep.

But at the same time the nerves kicked in. For some weird reason fear of the known was greater than the unknown. We’ve travelled all over NZ a number of times, we know it very well. We’ve only stuck out our thumbs and properly hitchhiked once before in Venezuela and we accepted a ride in an overloaded car full of shop supplies with a man and his son and Marie spent the entire journey holding the car door because it didn’t actually shut (we drove so slowly falling out wasn’t really going to be a problem). We’ve accepted lifts and rides in and on all manner of transport without a second thought and we wouldn’t think too much about hitchhiking in many countries, its just the unpredictability that puts us off. But somehow the familiar felt more scary as you can imagine the different possible scenarios.

A compounding thought was what if this is the adventure we fail at. No one likes to fail, and worse in your own back yard.

We sometimes pick up hitchhikers, it is our way of giving back some of the generosity we are the recipients of when we travel. But truth be told we always hope that if ever we get stuck somewhere karma might just repay us.

Eventually we decided that people do it all the time, so how hard can it be??


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