Hitchhiking Statistics 2020

In 2020 I spent 69 days hitchhiking a total of 200 different rides that carried me 11,111 miles throughout the United States.

Like 2019, I compiled these statistics and charts displaying everything from distances, types of vehicles, genders, interactions with police, and even things like how often I was offered food, beer, cash, and weed.

Where I started hitchhiking each day this year; bigger/greener = more rides that day.

Pandemic vibes slowed me down in spring and limited travel to the United States as you see in the map graphic above. I'll make comparisons between 2020 vs 2019, but one stat is unique to this year:

5% of rides affected by COVID-19.

Of those 10 rides affected, 8 drivers preferred us to wear masks, 1 person asked me to sit in the backseat, and 1 guy asked me to wear a mask and then panicked that his wife would find out and dropped me off instead of taking me further. Perhaps there are people who didn't pick me up at all who normally would have, but my wait-times were the same as ever. Besides the guy who dropped me off, it was functionally a non-issue.
Notice the "quarantine" gap in the springtime.

Given the unexpected springtime stagnancy and lingering concerns, 2020's stats compared to 2019 were a bit surprising.

Days I hitchhiked: 68 in 2019 vs 69 in 2020
Total rides: 269 in 2019 vs 200 in 2020
Total miles: 10,121.95 in 2019 vs 11,111.06  in 2020

That's right, exactly one day more spent hitchhiking this year, even though last year there was no shutdown and I was running around everywhere from the US, to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

In fact, I covered more ground this year (just talking hitchhiking) compared to last year, despite getting 69 fewer rides. The rides were simply longer on average.

I should note that these and the following stats only deal with hitchhiking. They don't include rides from friends, driving my sister's car cross country, and other forms of transportation (unless it was a direct result of a ride I got, like a driver buying me a bus ticket which happened a couple times).

On my average day hitchhiking in 2020 I traveled 163.24 miles getting 3.3 rides. That's about 56 miles per ride. Not too shabby.

The most rides I got in a single day this year was 9, hitchhiking from North Carolina to New York City in May. The least I got was 0, just a few days earlier in Alabama. I'd gotten a long ride from a friend that day and didn't start actually hitchhiking until late. No rides came by dark so I just had to wait until morning.

Half the days I hitchhiked I got just 1 or 2 rides.

This chart shows kilometers, rather than miles, for each day hitchhiking in 2020.

My longest single stretch in 2020 was 837.84 miles from North Carolina to Mississippi. A middle school science teacher picked me up and didn't even do most of the driving, rather he insisted on buying me a bus ticket to do the heavy lifting. That happened 3 times this year, including a girl in El Paso who got me a bus ticket to Phoenix, and earlier in the year when a guy gave me a ride to Ogden before getting me a train ticket the rest of the way to Salt Lake.

The longest stretch without being given a ticket was 598.34 miles from North Carolina to New York City, which I also mentioned above as the most rides in a day at 9.

The shortest day (besides the goose-egg in Alabama) was getting 1 ride for 10 miles cutting across Spokane to save some time from walking.

Just like 2019, the most common ride I'd get would come from one guy driving alone, and the least likely rides would have multiple females (and no males) in the vehicle. The percentage of solo-females surpassed (and doubled) the percentage of rides with multiple-males compared to last year.

"Mixed Group" simply means multiple people with different genders, like a straight couple on a road trip. It's worth noting that I account for every human in the vehicle, so a woman driving with her baby girl in a car seat was counted as "multiple females" or a man driving with his son and daughter would be a "mixed group."

I may try to break this out more in 2021, but that's what we've got for now.
This chart shows that nearly a third of the days I hitchhiked in 2020 I was offered some food by at least one person who picked me up, ranging from a snack to a steak dinner. Nearly 15% of the time someone offered me a beer, and about one out of every ten times I hitched I'd be given some weed or even cash.

I've never been interested in panhandling, but when people offer me cash on their own I realized it's often pretty awkward to decline. In fact, it makes them feel good, and I'm happy to have it for food, beer, or otherwise.

All of these stats are actually lower than reality, mostly because I didn't keep track well enough of every single time someone shoved five bucks in my hand or gave me a puff off their joint as we cruised along. People are awesome. Maybe I'll stay on top of these stats better in 2021.

Here's another stat I do a terrible job of keeping track of but wanted to include anyhow. "Truck" means anything from a box truck to an 18-wheeler, and along with rides from police is the most accurate. Vans and pickup trucks are more forgettable unless I take note quickly, so there's certainly more rides from them than represented here.

"Other" is obviously pretty broad and mostly comprises of just "cars". Perhaps next year I could torture myself by breaking that down further to convertibles, SUVs, and whatnot.

As far as the police go, I had 13 interactions resulting in 6 rides. Like everything else, there were probably more interactions than the 13 I documented. I'm just so used to it now that they don't even always stand out anymore. An "interaction" is anything from them driving by shouting at me to actually stopping and checking my ID and asking me some questions and possibly giving me a ride.

Hitchhiking isn't widely illegal anywhere in the US, but walking on the interstate often is, and that's why they usually come to talk to me. Once in a while, they don't know the laws themselves, or people driving by call 911 for whatever reason.

A perfect example is from this summer when a cop rolled up on me on a regular road in Decorah, Iowa. He got out of the car and lead by saying I was totally good, and he just had to show up because someone called in. I told him I was heading to Toppling Goliath Brewery and had been hitchhiking from Minneapolis to get there. Now that I was just less than ten miles away, he gave me a ride right to the brewery door, much to the cackling delight of one of the bartenders inside.

Finally, I kept track of where I slept after each of the 69 days I hitchhiked in 2020. Camping dominated this year with 43.9% compared to just 17.9% last year. Staying with friends was the top piece of the pie in 2019 at 35.8%, and stayed about the same at 31.8% this year despite camping taking the lead.

"Invite" refers to people who gave me a ride and then offered me a place to stay, which happened just twice this year. A girl in Idaho invited me to stay with her blacksmith husband for a feast and some drinking, and a guy in Iowa coaxed me into staying a couple nights with him and his wife by offering me a ride further to Minneapolis later. Both experiences were fun as hell; it's great making friends on the road!

Speaking of which, "new friends" is somewhat similar to "invite," except from someone who wasn't driving. The one case this year came when I hitchhiked to Paso Robles with my friend Nick while filming our show "Hopping: The backpacking beer adventure." After filming, we met a couple at the cidery next to the brewery and they invited us to stay at their place for a raucous night of drinking and blowdarts.

Lastly, the two unlabeled slivers of the pie represent one night sleeping in the airport after hitching to San Francisco and one night staying with a Trustroots host in Montana.

There you have it, my 2020 hitchhiking statistics. Let me know if there are more stats you think I could keep track of or do a better job with what I've got. One obvious stat I simply won't keep track of is wait-times between rides. It would be pretty interesting to see, but what a pain-in-the-ass to keep track of. I'm just trying to have fun out there! Good times everyone, happy hitching.