The road stretched out, leaving the city, and into the country side. The stores around me were busy, it was around 12 PM that I found my self on the side of the road holding a sign where my hostel owner had written “Kaohsiung” on it in Chinese. A town a 130 KM away, I would get there by hitchhiking, and it took me a mere 4 hours.
Before Taiwan I had never hitchhiked in my life and the very thought of it made my stomach turn. But my fears melted away like snow on a sunny day. Let me tell you why, in my top 5 tips for hitchhiking. These tips will help you make your way around Taiwan, and can be applied to almost every country.
- Don’t be afraid, some one will take you
The exact words my hostel manager said where “Some one will take you.“, and it’s true. If you follow these tips, then you are guaranteed to get picked up.
- Pick a spot where cars have room to pull over, or frequently stop
Pick a road that drivers are likely to take when driving to your destination. Do some research, and find it before you head out. Extra points if you find a spot on your selected road near a place where people tend to stop, like parking lots, traffic lights, gas stations or convenience stores.
- Look like someone you would pick up
Look friendly and smile, would you pick up a grouch? I wouldn’t and neither would you. I sometimes carry my travel guitar just to improve the likeability factor.
- A sign is not mandatory, but it helps
A sign can be anything, as long as it conveys your message. I generally go for a simple cardboard sign the size of a A3 paper with my destination in the local language. If you don’t know how to write it, ask someone to do it for you.
Bonus tip: Far away destinations can scare of drivers, consider writing just the word “north”, “south”, “west” or “east”.
- Learn the correct hitchhiking gesture, have patience and be humble
In Taiwan, the general gesture of stretching your arm in front of you, and pointing your thumb upwards, is all you need. Not all cultures recognise this gesture, so research in advance. Now that we have that covered, lets talk about attitude.
Sometimes it’s the first car that passes, other times it takes a while. This is in my opinion the hardest to master while hitchhiking. Learn to accept rejection and keep smiling. On of the best things for me personally, was to hitchhike with a friend, so you can share the rejection. You’ll usually end up laughing it off.
Whats your favorite way to hitchhike? Lets us know in the comment section!