Tjark is a good example of how to overcome challenges in life… Born in Germany, but currently lives in Spain. He sailed through the Caribbean, then traveled with the van, recently with the expedition truck. Pablo and I had a great time talking to him and we hope you enjoy reading about his paths.
- Please introduce yourself and tell us something unique about you.
I’m Tjark, 57 years, from Germany and based since 4 years in Spain. My passion is, to explorer the world and different cultures as much as possible.
- How did the idea of traveling the world with a truck come about?
I sailed the Caribbean with friends for a few months in 1988. Then I wanted to sail around the world with a sailboat, but that was too expensive and I decided with a van. But my dream was always to travel with a truck, but it took a few more years until I had a truck.
- Why did you choose a truck over another type of vehicle? What motivated you to make that decision?
With a truck you feel safer when traveling. The capacities are also much larger and you can stay longer in the outback. 800 liters of diesel and 600 liters of water are sufficient for long distances to infrastructures. A truck is much more robust and you can go almost anywhere with the four-wheel drive.
- What are the best and worst parts of travel in a truck?
The best is, that you always meet a lot of people because all interested of our story. Only at tourist hot spots is sometimes a bit too much if you tell your story 20 times a day 😉
Worst part is, if you drive in some cities and the streets become very tight for the truck and that causes stress, but that rarely happens. It’s also bad when you drive off-road on a mountain slope and see in the mirror that the path is sliding down the slope behind you because the truck was too heavy. When driving off-road there are unfortunately no signs telling you how many tons you can drive there.
- You recently arrived from Mexico. Can you tell us what your future plans are?
Because of the virus is quite difficult to make any plans. As long the virus is around I will explore more of Spain. Spain has so many beautilful places to see and there is always a chance to be free. But even Balticum is on my bucket list.
After the situation become almost normal, i´m like to go on Silk road and further down to Asia, Japan and maybe New Zealand and Australia…but who knows 😉
- What advice would you give to people who want to take a long trip like you in an expedition truck?
Many people believe that this type of travel is like a vacation, but it is not. This type of travel is always a challenge for you, your partner, your friends and loved ones. Of course there are many beautiful days, but there are also just as many days when you have to do the daily things, like shopping, planning, laundry or driving… Sometimes there are also many boring days because you drive through boring areas or very stressful days because you are traveling through dangerous areas. But also problems with the truck can tie you to one place for weeks and months. But you also learn and grow beyond yourself every time.
Just do it and dont wait to long to do it! It doesent matter if you travel with a truck or back pack. But remember, there is nothing that money can buy that compares to the experiences you have while traveling.
- You have traveled to many countries with your expedition truck. Which one did you like the most?
That is hard to say. Sometimes it’s the little things that seem big to you. Every country has its beauties. That can be the cultures or places.
It also depends on what you like yourself. Some like nature and some culture. I love nature in its unadulterated purity, but it becomes rare year by year.
- You now have a lot of experience with expedition trucks. What advice can you give someone who wants to buy an expedition truck? In your opinion, which aspects are more important such as: fresh water capacity, energy capacity, type of truck (old or new truck, manual or automatic…)
During my travels, I have met an infinite number of travelers who were traveling with everything that has wheels. Whether it was by bike, with a 40-year-old Vespa from the Spanish post office, off-road vehicles or heavy trucks. Everything has its advantages and disadvantages. With a truck, I would not necessarily want to drive a new model and rather look for an older model from minimum of 8-10 years old because it is less problem to poor diesel quality.
Big water tanks are the most important for me. Because clean water is difficult to find in distant lands. The capacity of the battery and solar system depends on how much you use and that is easy to calculate. According to mine and many other travelers, 95% of the time on roads, 3% dirtroads and 2% off-road. Of course there are also countries where the opposite is true because there are simply no roads. But I prefer automatic and when I drive off-road, I switch manually.
- If I have enough information, you don’t use gas in your truck and everything runs on electricity like: induction cooking, washing machine, air conditioning… also, you have 440 Ah batteries and 1200w solar panels. How long can you go without using the generator or starting your truck’s engine?
Difficult to say and it wouldn’t really be a solid statement. Because I travel alone, I like to eat lots of salads and only cook a little, I don’t like air conditioning at all and only use it at temperatures above 40 c. On sunny days, I can stand for many weeks, but that depends on consumption, the geographic location and the season. But I also have an 8KW diesel generator for emergencies.
- How have your travels changed you and your view of the world today?
The changes caused by traveling started with my first big trip. I think it has to do with that, because when you travel you have a lot of time to think about yourself and your environment.
The trips through war zones in Central America, for example, leave me with a completely different view of the news. You empathize and you know what it can mean and you also understand much better why people risk their lives and leave everything behind to flee to a safe country. You becomes more thoughtful and no longer judges but realizes that all the good and also the bad is part of humanity. You become more frugal without being stingy because you actually have everything you need.
MAN o Mann