Saturday, July 01, 2006


Since planting the Mid-Mo Hitchiker Hostel: Bed and Breakfast, I thought it prudent to include a few comments, tips, and etiquette about Hitchhikers (HH) and other travelers.

There are various kinds of Travelers, and the exact definition of a Traveler differs from person to person. Three common types of Travellers in the U.S are Hitchhikers (HH), personal travelers and postal letterboxes..

Hitchhikers (HH)

As most of you are aware, a HH has its own book and and its own stamp and sometimes its own container, all of which is usually inside a Ziploc bag. HHs are designed to fit inside a host letterbox. Once found, the HH is then carried to another letterbox (LB) and dropped of for another person to find. A few Hitchhikers come with their own waterproof box and are designed to be placed alongside a Host LB rather than in it.

Personal Travelers
Some people use the word Traveller to mean a traveling LB. These are sometimes called Personal Travellers. These travelers go with a specific person or group from place to place and you must find that person(s) to find the traveler. An example would be a LB that travels with theatre company, music group or military organization from town to town.

Postal Letterboxes and Postal Letterbox Rings
Postal letterboxes (PLBs) consist of one book and one stamp which are mailed from person to person, usually along a designated mailing list, before it finally returns to the sender. In a Postal letterbox ring, each person in the ring creates a book and stamp, and mails them to the next person on a designated list. Eventually and ideally, all the PLBs in the ring will be stamped by each person on the list before they returns to the senders.

Cuckoo Clues:
A Cuckoo Clue is a clue for one letterbox that’s been planted in another letterbox. Some cuckoo clues (like the clue for my Alley Cat box) are designed to move from box to box. Other Cuckoo clues (such as those written in the back of host LB logbooks) are designed to stay in the same box. Some Cuckoo Clues may be passed from person to person.

This question came up a few times at the Mid-Mo Spring 2006 LB Gathering. LBNA has a relatively new option of logging Hitchhikers and other Travelers.

To Record a Traveler You’ve Released:
If you’ve released a Traveler and want to log it into LBNA, go to the LBNA Homepage and select “Add a Traveler” or go to Member Services and select “Add a Traveler.” You will be asked to select the traveler type (Hitchhiker, Personal, Postal or Other). Add in the State and nearest City in which it was released and the release date. If you were at the Gathering and gave me a traveler for the Hitchhiker Hostel, the release date is May 6, 2006 and the nearest city is Columbia, MO. Since travelers move from box to box , you cannot put in an actual clue. However, you can add a description about the traveler (why you made it; what it represents; what’s special about it; what town or location you’d like to see it travel to, if any, etc). See my Purple Fox HH and Stargate SG-1 HH as examples.

To Record a Traveler You’ve Found:
On LBNA, from the Home Page select the Travelers Link. You can search for Travelers by name, type, date and/or placer. Once you’ve found it in the list, you can record it as found. Keep in mind that since this is a new feature, not all travelers are listed with LBNA. You can also try searching for them on
Be sure to copy down the name, address and e-mail of the placer before you release the HH in the next LB so you can at least let them know the progress of their HH.


Protect your HH.Hitchhikers often get much more wear and tear then regular letterboxes. If possible, use a strong Ziploc bag (freezer kinds work best). The thinner bags tend to tear as HHs are carried in backpacks and from place to place. If you find a HH with a poor Ziploc, it is usually good etiquette to replace it with a better bag.

When stamping in, follow the same routine in the same order each time. Variety is not the spice of life in this case: Be sure to stamp the HH stamp in the host LB and stamp the host LB stamp into the HH. Both stamps also need to make it into your own logbook and your stamp needs to make it in both logbooks. While you can do these steps in any order, it’s helpful to come up with a routine and stick with it each time you find a Hitchhiker to avoid leaving out any steps, especially if you have more than one HH you’re picking up or dropping off. Here’s an example.
Take care of the regular letterbox first:
1) Stamp the host LB stamp into your personal logbook
2) Stamp your signature stamp into the host LB.

Then, make sure whoever dropped off the Hitchhiker, also did the following two steps:
3) Stamp the host LB stamp into the HH logbook
4) Stamp the HH stamp into the host LB logbook.

Finally, add your input to the HH:
5) Stamp the HH stamp into your personal logbook.
6) Stamp your signature stamp into the HH.
7) Write down the contact information about the placer so you can let them know you found their Hitchhiker.

8) Be sure to leave a little note in each logbook. Since HH often go to places their creator may never get to visit, please share a bit about the location and box in which you found the HH. When you drop off the HH in a new location, don’t forget to follow steps 1-4 above.

► If you found a HH in a LB but do not plan on finding any more boxes in the near future, it may be best to leave the HH in the LB and let the next person take it.

If you find a HH that you do not plan on taking, should you collect the stamp and should you stamp into the HH? This dilemma occurs most often when finding Hitchhiker Hostels which may contain multiple Hitchhikers. If a HH logbook has many pages, it is probably okay to stamp into it even if you do not take it. If pages are limited, however, stamp only into the ones you actually take. This keeps the logbook from filling up with multiple signature stamps while the HH itself never actually moves.

I found a HH. Which box should I drop it off in? The main goal is to keep the HH moving as much as possible. Before dropping off a HH into a particular box, you may check to see what kind of activity the box receives. If the box is in an obscure location or has difficult clues that limit the number of finders or is an older box that no longer gets much traffic since all the local letterboxers have already found it, you may wish to select a different box in which to leave the HH unless it is your HH and you don’t care that it may sit in the box for a long while. Newer boxes with easier clues are often a good choice as you can expect that they’ll get some visits in the near future.

►How canI get Hitchhikers to show up in the boxes I planted? If you want a HH to show up in a box you plant, you can include in the description that your box is big enough to accommodate Hitchhikers. Converse, if your box is too small to accommodate a HH, you may wish to make that notice as well. Hitchhikers are often released in Hitchhiker Hostels (HHH) as well, but keep in mind that people like the surprise of finding HHs in regular boxes, so don’t release all of them in HHHs. As the owner of a HHH I plan to keep tabs on how long each HH has stayed in the hostel and move them myself if no one drops by to collect them

► How do PFX counts work with Hitchhikers? Rules for P(planted), F (found) and X(exchanged) vary. Here’s my philosophy (yours may differ): Count as Planted only the ones you’ve created and released. Do not count as planted when moving someone else’s HH. Count as Found only the HH you find and take (unless it’s your own). If you find a HH and do not take it, it may be acceptable to collect the stamp image but do not count these images in the F-count. Count each HH as found only once (even if you find it again in another box). Remember the joy of letterboxing is in the hiding and finding boxes and sharing artwork; it’s not a competitive sport.

Remember: Keep ‘Em Moving. Hitchhikers were designed to travel and when faced with various choices, choose the option that keeps em’ moving.

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