Interview with Dylan Lowe on his Grand Canadian Hitchhike
Dylan Lowe, also known as the Traveling Editor, has set himself the challenge of hitchhiking across Canada, from west coast to eastern shores. Whilst undeniably a beautiful country to traverse we quiz him on his method and its madness!
Your project The Grand Canadian Hitchhike (GCH) – where, what & why?
The Grand Canadian Hitchhike does what it says on the tin. Myself and a partner are hitchhiking over 6000 km across Canada, the second largest country in the world. We'll be setting off around mid-June from Vancouver; traversing the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick and ending up in Nova Scotia, we aim to finish our hitchhike in Halifax. We could fly or take the train but I am attracted to this unconventional way of travelling. There are different methods of hitchhiking and I intend to use them all – sticking your thumb out, talking to other people who are driving, holding a sign, accosting people on petrol station forecourts. There is actually a system to this last one. I tend to wait for people to come out after they have paid for petrol so I am not harassing the same person twice.
Do you have any previous hitchhiking experience which will help with this challenge?
I calculated that I have hitchhiked over 7000 km so far in life. In places including the UK, France, Spain and from the top to the bottom of New Zealand in 3 days – which was quite good going. I've also hitchhiked from London to Morocco twice.
What skills are needed for this type of challenge?
Negotiation skills. You need to be able to wag your tongue in the right way to talk yourself out of a situation – such as a hazardous situation on the side of the road – and into a seat instead.
What has been your best encounter on the road so far?
It’s the people you meet along the way that really make the hitchhiking experience. I have been surprised by human kindness many times but one particular time which stands out was when I was stranded in a petrol station outside Madrid for a weekend. I had slept there overnight; head slumped on the table in the service station. When it was apparent I wasn't going to get a lift anytime soon the Romanian guy who had worked the night shift took me home with him and offered up his sofa, food and Internet connection. He showed such kindness and expected nothing in return. It was also immensely trusting of him.
Ever regretted getting into a vehicle with anyone?
No, luckily I have never had to dramatically jump out of a vehicle at 100 miles an hour to escape someone creepy. I've met some intriguing individuals though. I remember a bloke picking us up just outside of Toulouse. He was smartly dressed in a sober looking business suit but kept speaking passionately and animatedly in French about what would happen if the nearby nuclear power plant blew up. I wished he would keep his hands on the wheel instead of mimicking ‘BOOM’ explosions.
In relation to the GCH what’s your biggest fear?
Being mauled by a bear.
What’s the Hitchhikers essential item – other than a thumb? (Lame joke by interviewer!)
It sounds dull but a Swiss army knife, not for self defence but because it is so handy for a range of things. I remember reading in a Lonely Planet guide that the one thing worse than a tin of tuna is a tin of tuna you cannot open.
Who would be your dream person to catch a ride with?
Well I know some people who did the London to Morocco hitchhiking challenge and managed to catch a ride with Ewan McGregor on his way to film Black Hawk Down. My dream hitchhiking partner would be Jason Mraz - we can have campfire sessions along the way. It would be like having a massive jukebox with you. (You will find Jason making hitchhiking look cool in his video for I'm Yours!)
What’s next after GCH?
More adventure challenges and travels. There has been talk of cycling from the top to the bottom of Italy. I would really like to go to Antarctica and work there for a couple of months. Maybe help in the kitchens or wash and iron clothes.
Dylan will be keeping us updated on his adventures as he traverses Canada, finding out insiders tips on what to do in these cites from the residents he rides with. If you feel tempted to join him flight deals to Vancouver can be found here!