Hitchhiking: A "How To"

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Carry A Sign

Now it is not necessary to carry a sign and some hitchhikers may just prefer to thumb it, but by carrying a sign you can usually arrive to your destination a bit quicker. Of course in every country and region hitchhiking is different, but by carrying a sign that is large enough and written in the local language with a black marker (and a smiley face) the passing car has time to read your sign and decide if that is on the way. This also avoids many people being confused as to why someone is sticking out their thumb on the side of the road and the time wasted speaking with each passing car to ask where they are going and tell them where you are going. Also in many languages the pronunciation may not be the same as in your language and the romanization of characters may be incorrect to pronunciation. For example Gyeongju, in South Korea, is pronounced “Kyeongju” but copying how it is written in hangul (Korean), we can avoid the miscommunication as there is another city pronounced “Gyeongju” as is nowhere near “Kyeongju”.

Hitchhiking in Samcheok Korea

Pick the Perfect Spot

Picking the perfect spot takes time or practice. Of course standing in the middle of a city with a sign may take you hours to get a ride, but by picking the perfect location you can be on your way in minutes. Google Maps is our friend. Use Google Maps to find the route from where you are to the city you would like to go to. Find the place where the road goes directly to your destination and where there is less traffic going in other directions. Either walk or take public transportation there. Find a place where cars can easily stop for you without causing an accident. Hold your sign and wait.

While Waiting

Make sure you seem like the perfect candidate. This is like a job application but instead of looking for a job you are looking for a car. Smile, hold your sign clearly in front of you, wave, in general just seem like a person that would be pleasant to be in a car with. Also do not get discouraged! /if the first few cars pass without stopping change something. Smile and wave more. If you think the location is not ideal, find a better one. Generally in less than ten minutes you’ll have a ride, but don’t be discouraged after thirty minutes. If you have been waiting an hour there may be a problem. You may just be too scary looking to be a hitchhiker.

Learn Key Phrases

In case the person that picks you up does not speak any english which happens it is recommended that you learn some key phrases. “Where are you going?” “I’m going to” “Thank you” “No” “Yes”. You may chose to learn a few more or use this time to learn new words. Point at the mountain and they may tell you the name of the mountain which usually contains the word “mountain”. The world “beautiful” can come in handy. For example” [Insert country] beautiful”, or “[Point outside window at surrounding nature, building, etc] beautiful”. In general people like that a foreigner knows a few words in their language and likes there country. It usually puts you in a favorable light and thus usually a recipient of tasty treats, coffee stops, and smiles.

Bring a Map

Lastly, carry a map: iPhone or any other smart phone can be great for this to screen shot Google Maps when wifi is available. This can be useful in knowing where you are in the chances that you get dropped off somewhere before your final destination. Also if someone offers to take you to a certain town you can look on your map to see if its convenient to where you are going.

Hitchhiking a truck in Japan

These tips, “how to”, etc can be useful but all it really takes is putting yourself out there those first few times and realizing the joy and excitement (once a car picks you up) of hitchhiking, and you’ll be hooked and figure the rest out yourself!!

Any other tips from those that have tried hitchhiking? For those who have never tried any other questions about how it works?

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