Finally, I’m no longer ashamed of my travel behavior and ready to admit it out loud: I am a hitchhiker. Oh! I also pull over for hitchhikers and drop them where they need to go! Finally, there’s an app and a website for people like me! While some call us “f*cking crazy,” I say we are adventurers, pioneers, and good hearted people, busy making sure we show the world there are good people left.
Bum A Ride is the safest global community created by backpackers and hostel-goers to arrange and exchange rides. Best of all, it’s free and very easy to use! The main thing that draws me to Bum A Ride is that it’s definitely for people who go out into the world as I do. Those who believe in good people, good places, and the journey.
According to the site:
As a Bum A Ride user simply click on the “Sign up with Facebook” button. Complete your Bum A Ride profile. The more information that you provide about yourself the more you increase the likelihood that you will be able to Bum A Ride. Indicate if you are offering a Ride or Requesting a Ride and complete the appropriate information. Click on the applicable tab to Find A Ride. You are able to see your trip details under the “My Trip” tab in your profile page. Once you have booked a trip you will receive an email confirmation, and when everything is set – grab your backpack and get going – what are you waiting for?!
1. Set up your profile
2. Find A Ride, Offer A Ride or Request A Ride
3. Browse listings and contact the backpackers with whom you are interested in sharing a ride
Casey Landsman, the globe-wandering founder of Bum A Ride, gave me some of his time and I gave him some of my questions, and we’re working together to create more ride-bummers, adventurer-seekers, and life-livers!
Passport Required: What was the moment that inspired Bum A Ride?
Casey Landsman: Bum A Ride was born out of the realization that two of the biggest expenses of traveling are transportation and lodging. As a backpacker, I have utilized hostels for nearly 25 years now and felt that between hosteling, camping, etc. that there already existed an established, budget lodging network for lodging. However, a transportation network for backpackers and other travelers to share rides, meet other travelers and extend their traveling experience even during the journey from one location to another – not so much. I thought it would be a wonderfully useful idea if there was one forum in which all backpackers and travelers could use to accomplish this goal. I searched, and searched, and searched, and then waited, and waited, and waited, for the platform that was so obviously needed to be created. It never came. So, I decided to build it myself.
PR: Tell me about your most inspiring adventure.
CL: Sometimes the simplest prompts are the most difficult to capture in words an accurate and fair answer. ‘Tell me about your most inspiring adventure’ is one of those prompts. However, in the most general ‘big picture’ sense, I would have to give that credit to my first trip abroad as an undergraduate student at Clark Atlanta University where in a hostel I realized that I whatever else would become of my future – that “this” (traveling and hosteling) is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
PR: You no longer live in America. What was it that sent you to abroad to live?
CL: I have wanted to live abroad since I was a child and my grandfather brought me my first spinning globe. I would spend hours playing with my cars imagining how I would globe trot the entire world and the routes that I would take to do so. However, as an adult, I would say the culprit that gave me the impetuous to finally move abroad was the HGTV program House Hunters International. I was addicted to the program and fascinated and mesmerized at all of the expats moving abroad. I decided that I was either going to finally make the decision to live abroad at this moment, or wait until I retired. Tomorrow is not guaranteed and the last thing that I wanted to happen was to finally move abroad as a retiree and say, “ I should have done this 30 years ago!” When I found a destination (UAE) that also offered a comparable salary to the one I was currently earning as a high school administrator – I didn’t hesitate. I was outro!
PR: Where is Bum A Ride now, and where is Bum A Ride headed in the next year?
CL: Currently Bum A Ride is the largest ride-sharing platform in the UAE where it was officially launched. Bum A Ride is also growing rapidly in South Africa and are in the final stages of merger discussions with a large ride-share in Ethiopia. We will be launching Bum A Ride HBCU spring of 2017 and we are looking to establish a full time base in Cuba and the United States of America. We will launch in UK fall 2018 or September 2019.
PR: What and/or who inspired your sense of adventure.
CL: I may have to refer back to that globe again that my grandfather bought for me when I was five. You never know what you may say or do or give to a child in kindness that sets a course for the rest of their lives. This would be an example of such an instance for myself. If there was a second major source of inspiration I would have to identify an old set of encyclopedias that my grandfather kept in the house. I was fascinated with the pages, and pages, of information about fascinating and important people and places, and languages, foods, customs, religions, festivals and important and I to meet, see and experience all of them. So, I always say to keep books of different varieties in your home – especially if you have children. But to more succinctly answer the question of ‘what and/or who inspired your sense of adventure,’ I would say a toy globe and a set of Encyclopedias Britannica.
PR: What do you tell those who say “you must be crazy to do something like that?”
CL: Only that it would be a maddening idea for me to want something so passionately and yet never fully pursue that which I wanted to a be part of my everyday reality. One must remember, that more often than not, that when someone comments that you must be crazy to do something they are merely saying that your idea is an insane variable for their reality- not yours. People should not internalize other’s definition of insanity; for some certain ideas may be insanity but for the originator of the idea it is simply aspiration.
PR: If you’re losing your sight, what are the last 2 places in the world you’d want to look at before it happens?
CL: I really like this particular question because it requires one to reflect more deeply and begs further inquiry, introspection, and accountability after an initial response. As I answer this question, I almost immediately am filled with gratitude because I realize now that I have been blessed to have crossed off my list of places to visit every place in my life that I initially wanted to explore. But, (If I may give a kind of ‘cheating answer’ as I suspect that this question is looking for a specific location), I would say the whole of Africa and the whole of South America before I went completely blind.
PR: What are you doing to inspire travel in folks who look like you?
CL: Twenty four years ago when I began traveling there was almost never a possibility of running into people similar as myself. However, today, there are a great many platforms and communities that are growing that are filling this gap. My own contribution that I hope will be an inspiration to others is my building of Bum A Ride, the expansion to Bum A Ride HBCU, and promotion of my new FB group Black Hostelers. I am continuously reaching out to trailblazers and individuals to discover ways to work together to build bridges that will fill these gaps and provide additional inspiration to those who desire to travel while answering questions about where and how to begin.
This isn’t your mother’s hitchhiking! It’s so much better, and it’s time we connected!
Darnell Lamont Walker, a self-professed traveling foodie, has been found sitting at tables eating baby goat sweetbreads, drinking tequila, and laughing loudly with strangers. The writer, filmmaker, artist, and sometimes photographer puts happiness above all.