Do you remember what you were doing during your 3rd grade summer vacation? Most of us were watching TV, finishing that summer reading list (when we still read books), going to extracurricular classes if you happened to have a tiger mom, and finishing stacks of summer vacation homework on the last three days of vacation.

Liu Zimo, a nine-year-old girl from Handan, in China’s Heibei Province chose to spend her summer in a very extraordinary way: hitchhiking across China in 24 days, covering roughly 4,000 km (2,485 mi) during her epic journey.


It would probably have been illegal to let a child wander on her own, so Zimo’s travel-loving father, who was the one who planned for her to go on this ‘character building’ trip, chaperoned the 3rd-grader as she embarked on her journey. However, Zimo took care of everything by herself, from asking for directions and hitchhiking to finding food and accommodation.


When interviewed at the end of her journey, Zimo was already very well-versed and sociable, and not shy at all. This was the result of her 24-day ‘training’.

The little girl revealed, “The first time I tried hitchhiking, I was really embarrassed, but the guy was really nice.” Zimo was also touched by the kindness of strangers: once the father-daughter pair was trapped in the middle of nowhere for over an hour with no cars going their way until a kind driver offered to drive them to their destination even though he was going in the opposite direction. “He was a good person. I’ll remember him,” said a grateful Zimo.


The 24-day-long journey had turned Zimo into an experienced traveler. She came home more outgoing, more responsible and more knowledgeable about the world. Zimo’s father commented, “In the future we might send her on another one of these ‘character building’ trips again. But next time, maybe it’d be in South East Asia”, to which Zimo enthusiastically replied, “Let’s go hitchhiking!”


Source/images: Yanzhao Dushi Bao