Step 1: Preperations
Sorry about not having pictures, I'll add some within a few weeks.
Now you have maybe chosen to get on your way.
Make sure you find out where you want to go.
You'll want to pack a few essentials, make sure you pack light enough to walk upwards of 50 miles a day.
Things to pack:
1 Long sleeve button up shirt.
2 pairs of pants
4 sets of underpants
1 pair of shorts
1 road map (Rand McNally is very useful)
1 Survival knife (Make sure it is legal in the ares you will be traveling through)
1 Swiss army knife (Standard 10 tools I think)
1 set of good heavy duty sneakers (Preferably steel toe)
1 gallon water jug
2 10oz. water bottles
1 sleeping bag (-10c rated minimum)
Warm coat or jacket
Good big Backpack (preferably one in a dark colour)
At least and I mean at least $100 (My first time out I started with $0 and it screwed me up)
Other various things:
Cell Phone (Tracfones are best because of the non-monthly payments)
Loose Drum Tobacco and papers (if you smoke, they last longer than regular cigarettes and is cheaper ;P)
Notebook and pens (to write your best selling novel based on your trek)
Enough food to last 5 days (Ramen is best(It can be eaten and used as a fire starter))
Step 2: Dress for success
This stems from the fact that almost no one wants a stanky hitchhiker in their car.
When choosing clothes, choose ones that are clean (no rips or satins) and somewhat colourful (to make you stand out). A hat is almost always a good thing.
On your trip out the door, make sure you tell the people you love that you love them (this is a quite dangerous thing to do, and it very well could be the last time you see them).
Make sure your pack is tight, shoes are tied, fly is zipped and buttoned.
Step 3: The ride of your life
The sign of the hitchhiker is the beginning (hopefully like me, you have the hitchhiker thumb). Thumb out, fingers curled in. Stand on the same side of the road that traffic is going, in the direction you want to go.
Now come the hardest part for a first time HH, the actual making of the sign. It is tough at first to ask for a ride, and most every HH had to overcome this barrier in the mind. Trust me, it gets easier. At this point, when you see a car, you'll be thinking 'What if they stop? What do I do? Why am I on this trip? I have a good life here,' don't give in to these thoughts, don't even think when you extend your thumb. Just do it. DO IT! DO IT!! DOOOOOOOOOOOOOO IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!!!
You did it? Good, you are a good padawan. You have now broken the mind barrier, and have become a Novice in the Hitchhiking Union.
Chances are though, you didn't get a ride. No worries, there is always another ride coming, the only problem is when? Keep at it, best chances for a ride is somewhere that isn't in a large city, but there is alot of traffic. Keep at it, and there will always be a ride.
Step 4: Scoping your ride
90% or the time, you are going to get a smoker as a ride. If there is an open container in the car, or these people have been smoking weed, just say "Sorry, I was using this as a sign so my Sister/brother/Girlfriend/boyfriend could see me". Its as easy as that.
The best sign in my experiences to getting a safe ride is if they are a little suspicious of you. This signifies that they will watch you and you can watch them.
Make sure before you get in the car that you ask them where they're going, if it isn't in the direction you want to go, just say "Oh sorry, I'm not heading that way. Peace"
Step 5: Hotile hostilities and home like homeopathic remedies.
NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER LET YOUR GUARD DOWN
No matter who they are, be careful. Do not leave your bag in their car, ever. If both of you stop to get something to eat, bring your bag. If they ask (which they probably wont), just say "I'm going to get changed", or "I'm going to fill my water jug up," and then get changed in the restroom or top off your water.
But if you don't feel like doing that, just tell them the truth "Its not that I don't trust you, but I can't afford to trust you" if they truly are a cool person, they will fully understand.
Your bag is your life, it has most if not all of your things inside it. Without this tool, you have almost nothing.
Step 6: The ride, the destination, the love. Philosophy of the ride.
Take this quote and hold it in your very soul, it was given to me by my old bus driver. When we get in the car with our ride, we are the beggars. This is a very close interpretation of the way the disciples of Gautama Buddha were taught to live.
When you are in the car, make your driver feel relaxed, ask questions about themselves, family, job, and life in general. Share what you have, and pass along a serene sense of oneness. There is no way to live life being a mean hateful and spiteful person. Sure, tough times are plenty, but never let them get to you.
I hope you have enjoyed this instructable, and remember that there can be a chance of you not surviving, dehydration, freezing to death, and murder are very real dangers while on the road.
I will now leave you with a quote in which I wrote while I was on the road.
"My life is how I lived it, I won't let myself be controlled by people who do not know me. If I should fail to survive this trip, I want everyone to remember me as a man who refused to give up, a man who chose to live a life of peace. Others may see me as nothing more than scum because I choose to get my food from dumpsters, to sleep on the streets, and to beg for rides, but I am not, I chose to live a life using others waste, and to become closer to my god, instead of living a false life like everyone else".