So, Jeppe brought this up back when we were in Krakow heading towards 7/8/9, and it's come up a number of times since then. I've been looking at the matter constructively, and was wondering what some of the casa folks think...

Do you consider yourself to be freeloading? When you hitch-hike, dumpster dive, squat, etc?

Sure, you're getting something for free, there's no question about that.

And if you've got no money/liquid capital, you've got to live and survive, so living free makes sense...

But what about those who do have something to contribute, and consciously choose not to? Or those with the potential to contribute to society, but do not?

As travelers, we theoretically play an important part in supporting a significant economy in many countries: tourism. When we choose not to contribute towards that, are we standing up against capitalism, or depriving those whom are trying to live their own lives of the lifeblood which has supported them for generations?

I recall Croatia, where I had a discussion with some locals whom were VERY upset that I had camped on an island. They pointed out that I was essentially stealing from the locals whom make their living renting out rooms to travelers. It's not the way *I* live my life, but just as I would want them to respect what I do, so should I respect their lives. Where is the balance?


shaun-treehuggingfool's picture


If I were driving down the highway in my car I would give a lift to someone looking for a ride, for sure, I feel its my duty to help, they wouldn't be taking anything from me.
If I had space in my home for someone to sleep I would let them sleep there as long as it works, they wouldn't be taking from me.
I would offer somebody free food before I chuck it in the garbage, they wouldn't be taking from me.
In my mind 'freeloading' is taking something and giving nothing.

Curious George J.'s picture


As far as I'm concerned, hitchhiking = grassroots "carpooling." Whenever I explain it like that, even right-wing conservatives in the US seem to come around.

I imagine we'll have a hard time finding someone on Casa Robino that thinks of Hitchhiking as Freeloading... :)

dcarpano's picture

Good point to bring up

I have actually thought about this very much, and want to make it clear that I think that living off of societies 'waste' is probably a good thing. But I have also tried to make it clear that I would rather have a world where there is no waste and it is therefore impossible to squat and dumpster dive. Saying this, I think that as we dumpster dive, and squat we should always strive to become self sufficient, and try to move away from this world of waste.

On the matter of hitchhiking I do not think that it is freeloading, as drivers are welcome to stop or not for you, and as Ben said, it is often a great experience both for the driver and the rider.

Also, your example of the people in Croatia getting angry at you for this, I think that they are wrong. This land is every ones to camp on, mine, your, and theirs. And i think that as long as you are not taking resources that are vital to them to survive then you are in the right. it is sad that their livelihood depends on tourism, as it should not. They too should strive to be self sufficient.

stove's picture

"it is sad that their

"it is sad that their livelihood depends on tourism, as it should not. They too should strive to be self sufficient."

I hate to nitpick words, but 'self sufficiency' - do you mean that everyone should be totally independent and all do the same work and labor? If i recall my history correctly, this was the way it was a looong time ago, before specialization allows people to work together cooperatively. Then, of course, the question comes, at what point is one group's cooperative efforts 'better' 'more sustainable' [insert superlative] than another?

Those whom profit/live off of tourism are providing a service for which there is a demand. Would it be nice if everyone knew enough to travel to a place, set up camp, and enjoy it for however long they pleased? Yes. Those same people, however, might be busy doing something else, such as perhaps designing the technology which we all enjoy so frequently, instead of learning these important skills.

dcarpano's picture

Self sufficiency does not

Self sufficiency does not necessarily imply that you are totally independent of everyone. Exchange is great, exchange of food, ideas and everything in between should always be encouraged. Things like coffee, for example, need to be exchanged, and if we never shared ideas we could not be having this discussion. But a line has to be drawn. No country should fall apart because of lack of tourism, tourism in and of itself is not a bad thing, until it becomes ones only means of survival. Everybody should be able to live their live with what land and resources they have in the event of a global meltdown. Look at the world right now, what would happen if tomorrow all flights, boats, and cars were grounded due to a sudden meltdown of oil lines. Everybody would be fucked. And this is not good.

Globalization can be good, when controlled. If it remains uncontrolled it is an unstoppable menace.
Suggested reading:
Plan B 4.0, by Lester brown
Planet of Slums, by Mike Davis

atopia's picture

wow... interesting topic!

Hitching, squatting and dumpstering? No, not at all. Leaving existing infrastructure to rot and throwing out edible food leave no moral point against "freeloading" in my opinion. With hitchhiking, drivers are free to drive by or say no and in my experience the majority of those who stop enjoys giving a lift.

The free spirits out there contribute to society in a way that no one however talented ever could, which is probably one of the major reasons while good people™ support the nomadic slacker :)
On the other hand, my personal stance on the matter is that I don't want to force people into actions I try to get away of. More specifically, I'm fine with people sharing their riches but I dislike the idea of someone working their shitty 9/7 job to support my lifestyle.
I agree that this creates a problem with living a lifestyle based on abundance in poor places.
Recently, an old discussion on accepting money from drivers on the CS Hitchhikers forums reminded me that life is giving and taking and I as a traveler should also take precautions that I have something to share besides my personal heroic deeds.
But instead of falling for the capitalist traps such as tourism (which is highly.. unsustainable) we should show our alternative lifestyle by sharing and create a "traveler culture" as a way to make up for the amazing hospitality we experience especially in "poor" places. Like proposing some old people to help with the garden in exchange for camping in it. I know that this is hard if you travel with a destination (which I do way too often) and just camping in the woods is much easier. I see nothing wrong with that though. Just because we are (sometimes) "rich" doesn't mean that we have to save societies that don't get their internal problems done. After all, it is not that capitalism is the solution to global inequality, it's the reason. And that f*cking island belongs to everybody :)

stove's picture

"But instead of falling for

"But instead of falling for the capitalist traps such as tourism (which is highly.. unsustainable)"

I disagree. Tourism, as a concept of exchange of good (usually money) for assistance when outside of your home area, is neither sustainable nor non-sustainable- it is a basic concept of trade. It can be quite sustainable if, for instance, you were traveling, and stopped by a house which allowed travelers to stay in, for free, in exchange for assistance with labor. Especially if the labor happens to be things like gardening, dumpster diving, etc.

Oh, wait...

atopia's picture

A need to clarify

I didn't mean tourism as a leisure activity, I meant tourism as a business. People travel as a tourist for certain qualities of the visited place (like outstanding atmosphere, people, or the possibility for certain leisure activities), most if not all of which are destroyed by creating a business out of them (except maybe for people going to Mallorca for drinking). Places and people adopt to tourists, to a point where there is no reason to visit the place anymore.
I don't mean that renting out space to travelers is bad by definition, but expecting travelers to give more than they take is.