(image by me)
I always felt that the drive to travel has something to do with the seeking of Truth (see my earlier post about it here). The phenomenon of hitchhiking seems to be the extreme expression of this kind. Hitchhikings one of the most fascinated forms of travelling, and it reminds me of wise men wandering in the past.
Hitchhiking s popular in many countries. It is a favorite pastime in Europe and a common way of travel for many people in Asia and Africa. A few decades ago, it was also popular in North America. But only in Russia it became a competitive sport, a science, an art, and a way of life for many people (very typical for a Russian mindset to lay a profound theoretical base under any practical thing )…
The Academy of Free Travel was founded in 1995 in Russia by Anton Krotov,who has covered about 400,000 km hitchhiking in Eurasia and Africa, and published 17 books about free travel. Krotov is well-known in Russia for his hitchhiking to unusual destinations like Magadan, Afganistan, Iran and China… The Academy of Free Travel is however one of many hitchhiking clubs in Russia.
Here are some Academy guidelines, which I found very interesting and wise.:
“We do not do any fund raising. All our expeditions are financed by participants, who rely on hospitality and friendliness of local people. We know that the success of a trip depends not on the amount of money available, but on your preparedness and attitude.
Normally we don’t use hotels, commercial campgrounds, airlines, and travel agencies, and don’t try to arrange our own transportation. But anyone who is going in the same direction and agrees to give us a lift is welcome to do so. We usually spend nights outdoors or in the homes of people willing to invite us.
Hitchhiking trips tend to be many times cheaper than regular ones. But saving money is not our goal. We don’t mind spending if we wish to do so, and never mind losing money:the world is plentiful, and we’ll always find what we need on the road. We try to avoid touristic areas. Instead, we live, eat, travel, and communicate with local people, trying to experience their life as it is, not as it can be seen through specially arranged tours or politically correct guidebooks.
In our trips we found that the world is kind, that people are compassionate and hospitable everywhere, that our planet is open for everyone and belongs to us all. Life is wonderful; coming back from remote lands, we better understand people around us and try to be worthy of being a part of humanity.
Our methods of travel are not a secret – we spend a lot of time and effort distributing information about hitchhiking techniques, ways of getting visas to other countries (the most difficult part of any long trip if you have a Russian passport), obtaining food, shelter and money.
Encyclopedia of Free Travel contains more than 500 articles by many authors, covering all regions and cities of Russia and many other countries. All that information is also available online from our site avp.travel.ru. All our unique information about geography, places of interest, and travel comes from our own experience. With this information everyone can get to any city in Russia with little or no money. We also have contact info for tourist clubs, ferry and boat schedules, climate and road conditions updates, and are always happy to share this knowledge (contact info here). The only book by A. Krotov in English is here.”
But that is only a general overview. I was impressed by the Anton Krotov’s interview where he appeared to me to be like a Sufi-wanderer (I wonder if he himself is aware of that?) – but that comes in the next post tomorrow.