Dylan Lowe, also known in blogger circles as The Traveling Editor, is no stranger to hitchhiking. He’s managed to travel his way through Morocco, Spain, New Zealand and Germany by the kindness of others. His current expedition is the Grand Canadian Hitchhike where he has hitched his way through each province from Vancouver to Ontario, and is continuing east to Halifax. We were able to prod Dylan away from the road for a few minutes to ask him a few questions about his journey.
You are no stranger to hitchhiking exotic destinations. What attracted you to Canada as a destination? Why did you decide to hitchhike Canada?
It’s fair to say that Canada is an embodiment of the sense of adventure and an ideal destination for adrenaline seekers. The generosity of Canadians appealed to me as I was conducting an activity almost entirely dependent on the kindness of others; having met so many Canadians throughout my travels I was keen to visit them in their home country. Besides, being the second largest country in the world, Canada does rank high on a hitchhiker’s scorecard.
You’re half way through your journey. What have been the highlights and lowlights thus far?
I hitchhike with low to zero expectations – relating to the unpredictability of hitchhiking –and I’m frequently rewarded with moments of serendipity including meeting my interim hitchhiking partner Michael as a result of the Vancouver riot (after the Vancouver Canucks’ loss in the Stanley Cup Final) to scoring a ride from Kenora to Barrie in Ontario. Low points include getting stranded in a thunderstorm in Winnipeg and getting swarmed by mosquitoes in the Prairies – yet the bitterness always serves to sweeten the eventual turn of fortune.
What has been the hardest place to hitch a ride?
Attempting to hitchhike out of cities is generally difficult. Bend narrow roads, local traffic, vehicles speeding past at ridiculous speeds, and run-ins with the police: these are the banes of existence for any hitchhiker thumbing in an urban environment. Being isolated is another extreme – frustration often turns to anxiety; the fear that I would be stuck in one place occupied my thoughts. As a result, I had to abandon certain locations and seek alternatives.
How do you feel technology has influenced or altered the hitchhiking adventure?
Technology granted me a whole new level of convenience that I simply cannot imagine hitchhiking without. I can look up logistics online and connect with people before and after my hitchhikes. This has greatly shortened the amount of time required to conduct research and determining good hitching spots. Status updates on Facebook and Twitter not only meant I keep family and friends posted on my whereabouts, but also double as my digital memoirs. The downside? Hitchhiking becomes less unpredictable and thrilling.
What surprises have you encountered in your adventures in Canada thus far?
The greatest surprise has to be the profound quantities of luck bestowed upon me: I am thankful that I haven’t encountered any sketchy characters or prolonged waits on my journey thus far. The diversity of people who have picked me up – their openness and their willingness for me to delve into their lives – has never ceased to surprise me either.
What advice would you give to travellers want to embark on a similar journey?
Embrace unpredictability. Disregard doubters. Don’t feel discouraged from stepping out of your comfort zone. Have faith in serendipity. No two hitchhiking experiences are identical so there’s no way of knowing what fate will throw in your face until you walk through the threshold into the great unknown. If in doubt, there’s a large community of hitchhiking enthusiasts, both online and in real-life, who will happily assist you. Most importantly, be yourself and be spectacular!