Travel | January 9, 2022 2:31 pm

For Tourism Purposes, Canadian Islands Embrace Hitchhiking

An unexpected way to get around parts of British Columbia

Pender Island
Pender Island, seen from the water.
Hameltion, CC BY-SA 4.0

If you’re newly arrived in a place on vacation and are seeking a way to get around, you generally have a few options to choose from. Taking public transportation is one, and renting a car is another. But what if you’d prefer to avoid driving and need to get around in a locale without any form of public transportation? Well, there’s always hitchhiking.

That’s what a group of islands in British Columbia have embraced as part of a new initiative to improve tourism. Pender Island, one of the islands in question, is located north of Victoria (and due west of Bellingham, Washington). As Brendan Sainsbury chronicled for Condé Nast Traveler, residents of the three islands have volunteered to pick up hitchhiking tourists at 60 different stops.

The idea at the heart of it is simple: that this volunteer program can reduce the need for cars on the islands, lowering emissions along the way. Sainsbury’s account of his own trip there notes that it was easy to get to Pender Island from Vancouver by ferry; once there, he was able to get around by making use of the system, meeting interesting people along the way.

Now, over the decades, hitchhiking has gone from a ubiquitous part of pop culture to something viewed with more suspicion by many — though that may not be warranted, as per a 2015 Vox article. A unique solution like this to reducing emissions and finding an unexpected vein of ride-sharing offers an interesting case study for the future.