Bonnaroo: Ridesharing and Hitchhiking

Getting to and from the farm was a shitshow. But in an awesome way, you know?


To the farm, we used Zimride and RickyRides. Before Bonnaroo, I had never used either, although I’ve been a member on Zimride for about a year. It’s never really been my go-to means of transportation, but after my experiences at Bonnaroo, I’m so much more willing to try to find a rideshare before going corporate.

My friends went with the woman from Zimride and told me she was pretty nice. The dude from RickyRides that gave us a ride was awesome. His name was Nate and although we had trouble contacting him when we landed in Nashville, had us on the way in no time!

He strapped everyone’s luggage to the top of the beat up minivan with some string and tarp, and two of us packed into car along with 5 other random people. I kept trying to look out the back window to see if my backpack had escaped and was hitting the cars following us.

Given the type of people that go to Bonnaroo (chill, super friendly, amazing), we all clicked pretty well for the hour’s drive towards the farm and became close enough that he only asked for $15!

I was lucky with both the Zimride and RickyRides find because a lot of people try to exploit Bonnaroo and charge a freakin’ firstborn child for a ride. Before I found my ride back to the Nashville airport, I had a ride that I found on Facebook lined up for $70.

$70. Do you know what I could do with $70?! I could eat every single McDonalds menu item like 50 times.

When Sunday came, I was kinda freaking out about finding a ride back to Nashville. Despite what I like to believe—and what I tell other people—I have a hard time going with the flow. It’s great! … as long as things work out.

Thankfully for me, things worked out.

I woke up later than usual, around 8 AM and bummed around for an hour even though my stomach was churning because, hey, stressing about finding a ride back. Another friend that came with no planned ride back found one by Wednesday, so she just chilled there happy and content.

I told myself I was going to start camping out at the Bonnaroo exit and try to find a ride there by hitchhiking. It was time to put the trusty thumb to work. I even made my hitchhiking signs before getting to the farm and everything! Having no clue how long it would take before someone offered me a ride, I gave myself a 6 hour window before I started panicking.

(c) zastavki
(c) zastavki. Should I dress up to increase my chances of a ride?

But none of that stress and worry was necessary.

As I said before, Bonnaroo is home of the friendliest people ever. After asking the staff member guiding people out if I could park it there, I stood there with my thumb out.

First of all, I realized that hitchhiking is actually extremely awkward. Especially when the cars are crawling by. I imagine it’d be fine on the interstate because you can’t make direct contact with the people who refuse you. While I was standing there, a wobbly, hopeful smile on my face, I felt super awkward wordlessly asking strangers to help me out. My thumb almost inverted because I felt so weird about it at first.

But then I reminded myself that it’s nothing personal. Either they’re not going your way, or they’re hesitant about giving this clearly dangerous girl a ride.

Some friendly elderly people in day parking saw me standing there with my awesome sign and laughed. Not like “I feel you” laugh, but like “Ha, good luck with that” laugh.

Well, I showed them. 2 minutes after parking it at my station, a guy pulled over and told me he was heading that direction. Since the parking staff told us we couldn’t stand there dallying for long, I jumped in without thinking and we were on our way.

He was actually a pretty chill dude and we had plenty of topics to rave about (hello, 3 days of awesome concerts) before he dropped me off at the terminal.

Despite always talking about how I like to go with the roll and everything, I’m actually kind of a worrywart when I have something to catch. I was definitely willing to try hitchhiking and seeing if anything would crop up, but having that backup ride mellowed me out a little bit.

Thankfully, I researched ways to up my chances of getting a ride through hitchhiking (even though it was almost unnecessary because, hey, it’s Bonnaroo).

Some tips I want to share with you: 

  • Have a sign beforehand that tells people where you’d like to go. This way, the can decide while driving if they want to pick you up or not. If they have to stop and ask where you’re looking to go, it’s a huge hassle for them… especially when they may not even be able to get you there. 
  • Smile. Show them you’re not a sociopath. This probably applies more for guys than for girls.
  • Park it in a high traffic area.
  • Know the general direction where your destination is relative from where you are. That way you know when they’re taking you off course and you can abandon ship. My guy put “Nashville airpot” directly into his GPS, which announced everything with the car speakers so I was cruising easy.
  • Talk and get to know your driver! No one likes the feeling of picking up a Silent Susan. People pick you up to help a friendly fellow out! Not only can this prolong the ride (and get you closer to your destination), but it will definitely spread the good word of the hitchhiking community.
  • Most importantly, if you’ve talked to the dude and your instincts are saying NO, [YOUR NAME], NO, trust that. More will come.

I’m happy I did it thought because this experience taught me that I should try going with the flow a little more. The reward was that much sweeter when I got there from utilizing my social skills and interacting with the community. It’s exciting to camp out and see where it takes you.

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