I found a way to travel with ZERO transportation costs and 100% total adventure. I traveled all of Japan like this — and you can do it too!
For many people, it will change the way you see the world forever.
That’s right, all you need is a starting point and a little courage (and maybe a few other things, but they don’t cost much at all) and you can travel the whole country with pocket change.
Seems easy, right? Well, I said free not easy.
Consider it a challenge for an experience you’ll never forget.
In 2003 (30 days of travel in Japan, 3000 km)
Transportation costs: 0
Food: $120 (almost everyone treated me to lunch or dinner)
Entrance fees: $20 for baths and laundry
People who picked me up: 20
In 2017, 32 people stopped and took me 3000+ km again
Transportation costs: 0
WHY IS HITCHHIKING IN JAPAN THE GREATEST TRAVEL HACK EVER?
★ It’s free
★ The people who pick you up are also the most knowledgeable people on the area you want to go to. No need for a guide book!
★ Car is the best way to see all the places other tourists can’t visit with a train pass
★ Learn about Japanese culture by being thrown deep into it
★ Did I mention the fresh air and beautiful views from all over Japan? No? Okay, put that on the list too.
First, you’ll need courage.
And then you’ll need these things:
A map of Japan or a smartphone
A tent (optional)
3 black markers
Stay out hitchhiking for as long as you like (or as long as you have a visa to stay)
Make loads of friends along the way.
Have hundreds of stories that will inspires your friends, family and the internet.
Hitchhiking Japan is not without risks, like all things in life.
There are some things you should take note of.
1) Never get into a car if you feel uncomfortable. After 50 rides across, I have not had a problem.
2) Always let people know where you are and where you’re going.
3) Carry cash for at least 2 days in case of trouble. There aren’t always ATMs in the countryside.
4) Bring extra markers and cardboard
5) Bring a English – Japanese dictionary so you can communicate. Smart phone batteries die.
6) Don’t hitchhike in the middle of winter or summer. You may be outside for an extended period.
7) If you have any medical conditions, please note that you may be away from medical care, a risk for all world travelers.
8) Absolutely exchange business – name cards whenever you can with your ride so you have each other’s information.
9) It can be hard and sometimes traffic is light or people won’t stop. Be prepared for anything including spending the night in your tent in the park or roadside — or rain.
I have seen more than most people while hitchhiking and it’s an experience I loved so much, I did it twice. I’ve made lasting friendships with people I wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t had the courage to do so and this adventure has changed my life forever.
It’s not for everyone, but if you decide to hack the system, bypass a JR Train Pass and hitchhike like this, you will be rewarded with an amazing journey that you’ll be able to tell you’re grand kids.
Best of luck to you out there on the road!
See photos from this trip on instagram: