|British Columbia, Canada|
I typed up a quick answer, but decided to expand on it here on the blog.
Before I even start, I'd like to acknowledge that I don't hitchhike all that often. It's been more times than I can count on my hands and toes times two... but not that much. Usually I don't need to. But, if I do, I'm not afraid to stick my thumb out. Sometimes, I just get picked up by strangers who see me walking along the road. Craigslist Rideshare also rocks (only needed it a few times).
I thoroughly enjoy hitchhiking (and wouldn't do it if I didn't) as a solo female traveler.
It's always been a keen way to meet rad folks.
I'm not aiming for money or getting laid (that's the last thing I want, actually) as some of you mentioned - I crave connections. Since I travel alone, I thrive in the conversations I have in the moments I share with the strangers. Also, as mentioned above, getting around for free is rad!
My start with hitchhiking was pretty vanilla. I was living on an island in Canada that promoted the hitching culture so much that they had hitch-stops (signs with thumbs on them) around the island that you could just stand at and wait for someone to pick you up at. Folks had coloured tags in their cars that identified which part of the island they lived on so hitchhikers could more easily decide who to accept a ride from.
Any time I wanted to go "into town," I'd just stick out my thumb and get a ride over and back.
I've gotten some pretty sweet rides. There was the man that picked me up after I had twisted my ankle. He stopped and bought me a cookie. Then there was the woman in northern Scotland who ended up hosting me for a week with her family and they truly made me a part of the family, taking me out to the movies and a concert - complete with a departure gift for when I had to leave. Can't wait to go back someday and see them again.
Sure, there's a handful of creepers out there, but I've never felt unsafe (which I know is the exception to a lot of folks' experiences and this isn't something I take for granted). Part of it might be that I seem to trigger everyone's darn maternal-instincts - even folks who didn't know they had 'em.
I was getting a ride to California and it was me and this grizzly sort of man in the back seat. After we dropped him off, the driver turned around and said, "You really don't know the affect you have on people, do you?" I asked her what she meant and she expanded to explain that I sort of just soften up everyone I meet - she described it as "melting" them. She said that the moment she picked me up, all of a sudden, grizzly man turned from grizzly to papa bear.
It has yet to let me down.