12 Jun Tuesday Traveller: Dylan Lowe – Hitchhiker
This week we have Dylan the Travelling Editor and avid hitchhiker.
Where did you go and how old were you when you lost your backpacking virginity?
Growing up in Hong Kong before relocating to England, I’ve jetted to all sorts of wonderful
places with family or on school trips; but it wasn’t until I was 20, fresh out of my A Levels,
when I visited my parents in Auckland, where they’d moved to, walked out of STA with a
Kiwi Experience pass and hopped on the big green bus to travel around New Zealand.
It was the journey that started it all: the backpacking, the passion for travel, travel writing
and blogging – not to mention the reckless partying and lust for adrenaline.
What one thing have you seen on your travels that’s blown your mind?
The game of roulette that is hitchhiking. There’s no way of knowing who’ll stop and give
you a ride, let alone guarantee that you’ll get along with the person with whom you’ll be
travelling with next. But that’s the very unpredictability that I’m so hooked on; not knowing
what life stories you’ll be hearing next and what knowledge about, well, anything you’ll be
learning is the most rewarding aspect of hitchhiking.
So far I’ve met hippies, a crank-truck driver, graphic designers, oil rig workers, even an ex-
marines conspiracist, each with fascinating tales – and never knowing they’re coming always
blows my mind.
What is the most epic bus journey you’ve experienced?
The three-hour coach ride between Marrakech and Essaouira was fast and full of terrors.
Blazing down the country road, the bus driver seemed to take pleasure from elevating an
ordinary transport run to a furious rally, overtaking any vehicle before swerving violently
back to the right line, always seconds away from getting hit by the opposite traffic – all
whilst my travel companion and I were having a near-psychedelic discussion about the
existence of god and Christianity.
Fear Factor: Would you rather jump off a building or eat something really nasty?
Jumping off a building, any day. Not because it’s the lesser of two evils, but that I’ve become
addicted to the sheer surge of adrenaline pumping in your body, as you look down the
ledge, building up to the moment you take the leap – the kick is, frankly, unparalleled.
Having said that, I’m not saying I’m a mewling quim when it comes down to ‘exotic’ foods –
I regularly eat offal (less desirable animal parts and organs), ingested many creepy crawlies
and weird-tasting vegetables. But then, chicken feet puzzle me and insects make me flinch.
If you had to travel with a celebrity who would it be and why?
Jason Mraz. This living legend’s voice has a permanent spot on my iTunes and motivated me
in many sticky situations, from long waits for rides to romantic moments. If only I can travel
with him for a short while, singing and dancing throughout a journey and getting inspired by
his lyrics, writing a few more as we soak up our experiences together.
On top of being a musician he’s a philanthropist, regular volunteer and life enthusiast – what
more can you ask in a model travel companion?
What camera do you take travelling with you and why?
My trusty Nikon D5000. Not that I picked it myself – it was passed down to me as a family
camera a few years back and I’ve never replaced it since. I’ve only started paying more
attention to my photography and shooting manual, and the semi-professional DSLR hones
my skills as it’s not too complicated to operate while producing some stunning shots.
Spending months fasting and saving up for new lenses helps improving the quality.
As of why Nikon: well, consult the never-ending, unexplainable Canon VS Nikon debate.
Have you had any brushes with border patrol/police/security/government officials?
Having a British passport helps – a lot.
The closest I got to a confrontation with the police was when I was hitchhiking across
Canada, in a country where hitchhiking is, technically, illegal. I didn’t get ousted from
pedestrian-restricted highways until I got to RiviÃ¨re-du-Loop in Quebec, with only a fifth
of my journey remaining, where a police car pulled up beside me and a female officer
beckoned me over.
With a thick Quebecois-French accent she asked me if I was hitchhiking – thinking I was
finally busted 6000km of offence later, I admitted that I was. Continuing in almost basic
English, she suggested I should walk further along the highway to have better chances of
getting picked up and wished me luck. All she wanted was to help.
It was a pretty close call. And, thinking about it, she was pretty cute too.
Dylan is a travel blogger and journalist who runs The Travelling Editor, a website devoted to sharing
his travel stories and advocating giving meaning to travel. He also operates Student Travelog, an
online student travel magazine. When he’s not travelling or writing he’s an avid networker, pub
dweller and a certified hitchhiker. Follow his adventures via Twitter (@TravelingEditor).