Earth > Europe > Southern Europe > Balkans > Albania
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The road network is not very complicated, and getting out from and past towns is usually just a matter of walking in the right direction. Roads do tend to go through the towns, but keep an eye out for signs for shortcuts to avoid tedious walking when transiting. In Albania there are lots of round-abouts, even on some motorways, these are perfect places to hitch!
People are usually friendly and ready to help. Be aware some drivers expect money, since private taxi is a major form of public transport. A very easy way to avoid misunderstandings (if you are strict about hitchhiking) is to say "autostop, jo lek" - "hitchhiking, no money" while showing the thumb up sign ("jo" is pronounced "yo"). This is very clear to drivers and they will either drive away or pick you up anyway.
Hitchhiking with a sign can be useful to differentiate yourself from the other people using public transportation, but on smaller roads a thumb is enough (and might actually make things easier since people might not be going far and it's hard to know what to put on your sign). The only place a sign is really useful is to get out of Tirana
Many private minibuses join the main cities via the main roads. There are no bus stops, so they may stop when they see you hitchhiking. They are quite cheap, for example a ride from Tirana - Shkodër (120 km) costs 500 Lek (about EUR 3.5). Thus, it may happen that they pick you for free if you say that you don't have money.
Also, make sure to keep an eye on the road -- if the driver makes sudden turns and other similar actions while driving it is likely that he is either a taxi driver or that he thinks he is doing good by bringing you to the local bus station, and would expect some money from you. You therefore will have to be reiterative on stating that you travel by autostop. This kind of driver behaviour usually is not valid for the company car or truck drivers': they are already salaried and won't be offering a taxi service to you.
Women hitchhiking alone do not encounter more issues than the average European country.
Albania has a good hitchhiking reputation. The government financial trust in police force has lifted up the safety level in most areas of the country; however, it is paramount to remain cautious, and hitching by night as well as in some areas might not be too wise. Beware of the poorest area and hitching next to slums since you will be quickly dragging the attention of dozens of children lurking at your bags, and would make almost impossible for you to get out of there, so if you find yourself around such place just walk away and ignore the people until you are in a better area.
Eating & Drinking
In Tirana (and probably in other cities, too) you can find very cheap local food markets with really good and fresh vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, olives, etc. Local olive oil and freshly baked bread is something everyone has to taste!
Accomodation & Sleeping
In Tirana one can easily get accommodated in so called private sector: these are people who have their apartments arranged to accepts occasional tourists. It is safe, quite cheap (you can talk about how much you can pay), you get friendly company (if needed) and tips how and where. To find these kind of places just ask some more tidily looking folks on the street, or in Internet cafes and other similar places. There is a nice and individual hostel in the center of Tirana. Tirana Backpacker Hostel, Rruga Elbasanit 85, Tirana. For free you can stay at Couchsurfer house. Albanians are very good hosts and they can help you by showing the city you will stay or giving directions.
Mind of a Hitchhiker had an awesome time freecamping and squatting in Albania. There's lots of building going on in Albania, especially at the coast in Sarandë there's a whole rise of ugly concrete structures, presumably to launder money. There's not enough people who actually buy those apartments, so squatting is really doable for the night if you manage to sneak in unnoticed. There's empty buildings in the whole country. If you walk about 4km north of Dürres centre there's a few beaches and hills excellent for pitching a tent.
Other Useful Info
Albanian Phrasebook on Wikivoyage
Albania on Wikivoyage
Nomadwiki & Trashwiki
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