In 2010 Dutch artist Tjerk Ridder, his dog Dachs, a guitar and journalist Peter Bijl hitchhiked from Utrecht to Istanbul – with a caravan, but without a car!
As ‘Fridge-hiking’ had already been pioneered before (more here) they opted for the more convenient – and true to Dutch holiday tradition – Caravan.
They wanted to see what would happen, traveling on the fly while completely being dependent on the help and hospitality of others. Their trip was dubbed the Caravan Hitchhiking Project (original Dutch title ‘Tekhaak Gezocht’ aka ‘Towbar Needed’), used the slogan “you need others to keep you going” and just hit the road.
It became a unique research trip exploring the hospitality, benevolence and possibilities of people across European borders connecting people, cultures and the lives of strangers
In 3 months time Tjerk and Peter hitchhiked 3.700km passing through 8 European countries hooking their caravan onto 53 different towbars and cars willing to drag them along. They met the most diverse group of people and had a blast along the way. This video (english subtitles) captures the vibe of the trip brilliantly:
Along the way they asked their hitchhiking/towing hosts – like Manon Ossevoort on her Tractor trip to Antarctica (more here) – about their wildest and deepest dreams in life. They asked each one of them to write down a roadmap as to how they would think they could achieve these dreams. Each one of these dreams was collected and sealed in a tin can. Subsequently a label was added to each can with an expiration date related to the first or last step of that person’s dream roadmap.
This tin can became Tjerk and Peter’s present for their caravan towing hosts. It would be a concrete and daily reminder for them to work hard on the realisation of their dreams!
After finishing their trip Tjerk turned the trip into a multimedia mash-up covering their experiences, meetings and surprises on the road through songs, stories and videos. They turned it into a theatre road movie which debuted in the Dutch cultural centre at the Shanghai World Expo in the summer of 2010. Afterwards Tjerk and his show toured multiple (theatre) festivals around Europe. Assisted by his musical companion Matthijs Spek, Tjerk took the audience along on his European caravan journey, using universal themes such as origin, dreams, vigor, loneliness, prejudices and trust. A story that shows what happens when you open yourself to the unknown.
During Holland’s legendary festival, Lowlands 2011 he released an accompanying book under the title ‘You Need Others to Keep You Going’. The self released book (156 pages, plus DVD) came out in August 2011 and had its third printing only a year later.
Kickass indeed but would you tow a strangers’ caravan along?!