Hitchhiking with a caravan

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Hitchhiking with a caravan seems slightly insane, but apparently it's very well possible, as has been proven by Utrecht musician Tjerk Ridder, who traveled through Europe, hitchhiking with a caravan, but without a car.

Birth of the idea in 2008

The concept of caravan hitchhiking was invented by Utrecht cultural entrepreneur Dennis Nolte, who regularly uses his own caravan for creative projects. He wondered if adventure ends when luxury begins. To get an answer to this question, he hitchhiked to the theatre festival Oerol at the Dutch island Terschelling with an old caravan. It took him and his girlfriend 3 long (but sunny) days to cover the 200 kilometer distance, including a ferry-trip from the mainland to the Island of Terschelling.

Going international

In September 2008, Berlin-based cultural entrepreneur Peter Bijl took the idea across the border, hitchhiking from Utrecht to Berlin, using a theatre caravan which would be used as a promotion tool for the first Flachlandfest in Berlin, a Dutch-Flemish cultural festival Peter initiated. It took him, and a friend, three days to cover the approximate 650 kilometers. Along the way, where they didn't leave the German motorway, they learned that on their particular route a Polish-language cardboard sign works even better than a German-language text: out of the seven drivers three were Polish, only one was German. During the festival the caravan was used both as a stage and as a symbol. The first ride, which took off at Utrecht based pop festival deBeschaving, was given by Dennis Nolte.

The Caravan Hitchhiking Project from 2010

File:TrekhaakGezocht Pecs2010.jpg
Tjerk Ridder upon arrival in Pecs

In 2010 Dennis Nolte, Peter Bijl, Tjerk Ridder and a few others took the basic principle of caravan hitchhiking and created the 'Caravan Hitchhiking Project' AKA 'Trekhaak Gezocht!'(Dutch) and 'Anhängerkupplung Gesucht' (German) Their aim: Hitchhiking from their hometown Utrecht to all three European Capitals of Culture in 2010: Essen and the Ruhr area of Germany, Pecs in Hungary and Istanbul in Turkey. The first stage of the project, going from Utrecht via Essen/Ruhr area to Pecs, a distance of over 1600 kilometers, was covered in January and February 2010 by Tjerk Ridder, his little dog Dachs and Peter Bijl. The hitchhiking trip required 33 different rides through 4 countries. Important lesson learned: It can get cold in central Europe in January! And the lower the temperature, the more difficult to find people willing to take the caravan over slippery and snowy roads. But the project was succesful, and got loads of media attention: in five countries (Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Hungary) the project got national television reports.

In the three months between the first and second stage of the trip, Tjerk Ridder wrote a theatre programme out of his experience. 'Tow Bar Needed: A Theatrical Road Movie', an inspiring mix of live music, storytelling and film, premiered at the Shanghai World Expo in 2010.

In June 2010 the second stage of The Caravan Hitchhiking Project took off, taking Tjerk Ridder and Peter Bijl from Pecs in Hungary, through Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria to Istanbul in Turkey. In three weeks they crosses a distance of about 1500 kilometers, through a less well travelled and potentially less-towbar-dense part of Europe. Being towed by amongst others an old Renault 4 and a truck, Tjerk, Dachs and Peter arrived in Istanbul, having their caravan being towed by twenty different vehicles.

External links