photograpers hitch-hickers?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by pawel_baranski, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. Any photographers who were hitch-hicking with camera?
    Is size of the camera a big issue, and how serious is the risk of being robbed (don't forget to mention about what part of world are you talking about)?
    Did you managed to get insurance for photo gear covering such kind of travel?
  2. Pawel- first, thank you! In recent days you've been asking such a wide diversity of questions. It does make it difficult to pin down what your motivations and what your goals may be. Camera comparisons, a study of religion and sexuality in photography, advanced photographic education, and now hitch hiking. I love it! Now I'm looking forward with anticipation to read what your next question will be in a couple days. Seriously, no offence meant at all. I'm enjoying watching you seek all this information.
    On the topic of hitch hiking... I hitch hiked only once in my life- I was a 16 year old kid (nearly 30 years ago) 20 miles from home on a bicycle with a punctured tire on the one day I left home without a repair kit. Silly me. Would I hitch hike today, anywhere in the world? Only if my life absolutely depended upon it, and even then I'd be on extreme guard for my safety. I'm in the USA (where hitch hiking is discouraged by law enforcement), and dare I say that for all the hitch hiking that goes on without a bad outcome, there will be a story of someone losing their possessions and/or gaining bodily harm. And having high value things along with you just invites more potential for problems. Go forth at your own risk, but it wouldn't be for me.
  3. Damn, I smell a really interesting project!

    I hitchhiked a lot in my late teens and had some interesting experiences -
    the best being picked up by a guy driving a stolen car, high on something, and sweating being nabbed by the police. If I were
    younger that would definitely be a project I'd be pursuing with a camera. It's a shame I wasn't into photography back then.

    I can't offer any advice with respect to your above questions, but just want to say good luck and stay
  4. Hitch-hicking is not as dengerous as it may seem. I've seen lots of posts of people who already did this, they have been travelling around western europe, eastern europe and arabic countries - and dangerous situations are very, very rare. People don't killed, don't get robbed (however, they were not travelling with expensive photographic gear - that's why i created this topic).
    It seems that world is not that hostile as most of us thinks.
    I just found insurance company that that would cover thief during hitch-hicking, by the way.
  5. I too hitch-hiked a lot in the service (CA in the early 70's), even got "Stuck in Lodi" from midnight to 5 am during a winter rainstorm - the same kids who dropped us off on the way to a party picked us up and took us father along out of pity and being soaked, but I never took my camera. I always feared I'd have to give it up as gas money. I've picked up a few hitch-hikers over the years (own a VW van) but none had cameras, mostly dogs, groceries or broken bikes. Good luck.
  6. In the U.S. hitchhiking and picking up hitchhikers is now and has always been very risky. If you are traveling that way just to meet "interesting" characters why not take the economy inter-city busses?
    If you don't have much $$ you are just another bum and will be asking for a tough time whatever you do.
    Hitchhiking joke: Family in car. They see some raggedy-ass character with thumb out. Kids say "Who'd pick THAT guy up? Dad says: "A guy who looks just like him."
    Good luck.
  7. Like others, I did a lot of hitch hiking as a young student, and then in my twenties as a student in England and while traveling in Benelux. I never had any problem, dressed respectfully, had a sign that alternately read Canada to ----- (wherever I was headed). Some very interesting folks offered me a lift and carried on great conversations (driving alone can be less interesting), from office workers to Bentley or Bristol car owners (one an Oxbridge prof, the other a member of parliament). It depends a lot on the times and on the region, some of the latter being safe (relatively). When I moved to Quebec City, a little more than a few decades ago, it was surprising to see nicely dressed young girls hitch hiking home at 1 or 2 in the morning after a night out. Normal then, and safe. Times have changed and the innocence of that time is no longer, so hitch-hiking has been greatly on the wane, even if the threat is not there as it is more so in some jurisdictions.
    I would choose my route carefully if I were to be young again and interested in such cheap travel. Dress normally, hide any fancy stuff (ipods, cameras), and use a sign. Tell friends where you are, and are going.
  8. I'm a bum but that doesn't matter since eastern europe everyone is a bum. I'm also a madman so I'm not really afraid about my safety. These are not my concerns. I just wonder how safe my equipment will be during my journey; how much more attention camera brings in such conditions.
    i hope this clears things up :}
  9. Keep your equipment out of view, and don't give any other indications that you may be in possession of high tech or any other valuable items. Don't give a predator a reason to prey upon you. A camera (or cell phone or any other similar device) in view will draw attention to you, keep it hidden away.
    I read in another long distance tourism book where the author carried two wallets with him. The first had his money, identification, credit cards, etc. The second was a "dummy" wallet where he had just a couple dollars (or whatever form of currency was used in that country), and an expired credit card for an account that wasn't even open anymore. If someone was going to rob him, he'd pull out the dummy wallet and hand it over.
    Never say never... it will be when you are feeling the safest that you'll relax a bit too much and become a victim. Even in a region where you've had no bad experiences in the past.
  10. I don't remember toting a camera when I hitched as a teenager. But if I planned to thumb rides just for travel and adventure I'd probably take an inexpensive, easily replaceable point and shoot, digital or film. I might take both, just for conversation pieces.
    I also did a lot of bicycle touring in the '70s and usually toted a small 35mm SLR outfit in my handlebar bag. The camera body, 28mm, 50mm and 135mm lenses didn't seem to bog me down too much, even on uphill climbs. Not sure I'd want to tote that much gear when hitching, since there's often a lot of walking.
    Regarding safety, hitching was probably among the least dangerous things I did as a teenager. I don't recall ever feeling threatened by anyone who gave me a ride. I did pick up a few weirdos when I was the driver - nothing intimidating, just eccentric folks - which only reminded me that *I* probably seemed like the weirdo when people gave me rides.
  11. I'm confused. You imply that you have expensive photo gear, but are hitch-hiking. Are my priorities way out of whack? Couldn't you sell some of that "expensive" gear to buy less expensive gear and a few bus or train tickets, or maybe a beater car? All the best gear doesn't do you any good if you can't get to the place in which you want to use it. I ran into a guy today that was selling some high end Canon lenses but didn't have a car and was in major debt, but he had a more elaborate photo set up than most people with full time jobs. Of course this is why he was selling said equipment, but it made me wonder how some people's priorities can be so backwards. He also smoked three cigarettes in a 10 minute time period at about $5 per pack while he was explaining his financial issues. To respond to the question, I wouldn't hitch hike or pick up a hitch hiker. If I was going to die next week and had to get to Yosemite before I was gone, I'd sell my photo collection to get there and buy a $100 point and shoot if the money was left over. After all, if you're a good photographer all you need is a light tight box.
    I'm sure I can't change your priorities, but please be smart. Don't be so naive and trusting. We can all hope and dream that people are generally good, but lots of them are down right crazy or evil. Just be careful and don't put so much trust in people you don't know. Even if you are a self-proclaimed madman, that doesn't make you invincible.
  12. My cousin once hitched a ride back to base with a couple of other soldiers (Vietnam War era). He ended up on the side of the road, knifed maybe a dozen times and left for dead. One wound partially severed his spinal cord. Miraculously, he lived.
  13. seems like a lot of us in the US hitched back in the '70s, and at that time it was fairly common. i commuted by thumb for most of my university years, none the worse for wear.
    nowadays, hardly anyone hitches any more. statistically, serious crime has never been lower, but we're all terrified of "bad people" who we are assured are out there. you can't escape being caught up in the hysteria, even though the more cynical among us know what it's about.
    i get the impression that the mood is much different in the OP's neck of the woods. the word hitchhike doesn't appear to immediately raise a red flag. i kind of envy that, and the fact that the OP is willing to take a chance on having a great adventure.
    if it was me, i'd travel with a budget DSLR and a couple of lenses, with the goal of keeping the kit light and not too showy. no one is naive enough to think that he won't make himself a target if he's flashing a lot of expensive gear.
  14. I hitched a lot in the US back in the 60's, though I always had a car. Once I went from Miami to Kansas to see a cousin, spent some scary nights, almost freezing to death one time until a fellow homeless kindly invited me over to his tiny fire. If I was doing that today, and I wouldn't do it in the US, I would travel light, hide my camera gear, and maybe couch-surf nights whenever possible. I would carry the absolute minimum amount of gear (One cheap body, kit zoom and one f/2 lens).
  15. "Couldn't you sell some of that "expensive" gear to buy less expensive gear and a few bus or train tickets, or maybe a beater car?"
    Respectfully; I think you're missing the point. The point is that you are hitchiking to meet people etc. I think it's a great idea, and have thought about it myself.... I'd get a (for me a Nikon; or any other brand OM2, K1000 etc) simple old FM2 or similar, an old AI 35mm or 50mm lens; some Tri-X or the re-badged Freestyle Tri-X and go for it.
    Or; if you go digi... Look for a cheap Oly E-PL1 or similar and lens. The E-PL1's seem to be everywhere on special at the moment.
    The other thing I'd do would bring a reasonably good audio.recorder with you (the Zoom H1 is a cracker). An E-PL1, cards and a Zoom would be an incredibly small package; but VERY functional. Mixing stills, video and audio could be incredible.
    Think simple! Simple is good! :)
  16. Luis; I've talked to many people who have used couch surfing and have not heard a bad report. A great idea!
  17. I met my husband hitchhiking to California. He was on his way home from work and I had a sign that said "West." We've been together since that day. It will be 40 years next month. There are some good stories to be had by hitchhiking. I would definitely bring my small Panasonic Lumix with me today if I were to go. Fits in a pocket and takes perfectly decent stills and video. You can't beat it for lightweight road travel.
  18. I've never heard about couch surfing until I've read this post. After some research I think this is a really interesting path to travel and meet people, exchange cultural backgrounds, learn different mentalities and discover the world. Thanks for mentioning it!

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