Cheapskate travelers will find no shortage of tips on how to travel on a budget: the best time of year to book flights, how to rent out your home, arcane websites that promise half-off on flights that only board for three hours on the morning of the winter solstice, and so forth. But the ultimate cheap travel move? Don't pay. For anything.
Sounds simple enough, but of course nothing in this life (hack) comes for free. For guidance we turn to the ultimate freeloading traveler -- the train-hitching American hobo.
The tightest advice we got? "I tell people the best way to enjoy traveling is always the safe way," says Connecticut Shorty, a former hobo "queen," as crowned at the National Hobo Convention that takes place the second week of August, every year since 1900, in Britt, Iowa. "Hopping freights is illegal and dangerous."
But those enormous drawbacks don't deter everyone. Let's say you did want to ride the rails, and to see America as workers and travelers and drifters have since the 1800s? Well, you'd definitely want to listen to these hobos, each respected enough to have been elected king or queen by their peers, each telling their tales here in their own words. Don't try this at home, maybe. Or, hell, maybe do -- speeding away with a cold wind in your face, a metal-on-metal clackity-clack offering the soundtrack to a journey that people do still, to this day, run out to the rail yard to make happen.