Krotov's nomad bases

The Russian hitchhiking guru and travel guide writer Anton Krotov has been implementing short-term nomad bases in various places for some time now. Over the years he has developed a systematic way of planning and maintaining these bases, which he recently announced on his LiveJournal. In order to bring these developments in the Russian-language nomadic community to the wider world, I've translated Krotov's long post.


For everyone who wasn't in the course, here's a summary of the "House for Everyone" project: communal living in a certain location (an apartment) which moves through the various cities and countries of the world. The House for Everyone (Дом Для Всех), or AVP House (Дом АВП) is a special project of the Academy of Free Travel.

In some city of the world we arrange (for 2-4 months) an apartment or house. These lodgings become a House for Everyone. Anyone in the world can come to that house, base themselves there, live there for some time and discover the surrounding city and region. They can make new friends among nomads, both local people and others who are visiting. They can exchange information on any subject; in our Houses there are always many skilled people, specialists in practically any field (especially travel).

Living in the AVP House is open to everyone. People of all ages have lived in AVP Houses, from 0 to 65 years old (our youngest participants, of course, came along with their parents). Living in the House is open to all people regardless of their financial means, whether they are completely penniless or financially independent. There is no obligatory payment to live there. If people are able and willing, they can make whatever donation they wish to the House.

Recent years have seen Houses for Everyone in Irkutsk (2006), Osh, Kyrgyzstan (2007), Cairo, Egypt (2008-09), Vladivostok (2009) and in Arkhangelsk on Brevennik Island (2010). All these houses have been described in detail in their respective book. The next House is planned for Summer 2010 in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan (August-October 2010). Subsequent Houses are foreseen (the order and dates not guaranteed) for Kunming (China), Istanbul (Turkey), the Caucasus, in the Russian cities Yekateringburg, Yaroslav, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Samara and Nizhniy Novgorod, in Latin America, in Kampala (Uganda), in Madagascar, in Peshawar (Pakistan) and in many other cities and countries. You can get information on planned AVP Houses and their dates (half a year in advance or more) at the AVP website, at Anton Krotov's LiveJournal, by calling the Moscow numbers (495) 457-8949, (903) 500-9850 or at AVP events and meetings.

(If you reside in one of the above-mentioned cities and want to obtain for us some inexpensive lodgings for 2-4 months, we would be very interested in your offer and would set the dates in advance.)

You can organize a House for Everyone yourself in any part of the world. But in order to ensure that other people beside yourself participate, you must advertise the House well in advance and be a reliable and dependable person. Additionally, the House should be conveniently located, i.e. in a city and country that many people can easily reach by hitchhiking, by train, by airplane or by other means of transportation. Also, the founder of the communal House ought to possess initiative and dedicate time and money to the project, as I do, or make use of whatever support. Until now, unfortunately, no one has taken it upon themselves to further this initiative. Well, read the book. Perhaps someone who learns about the Houses, about communal living in different cities on Earth, and about the technical nuances will be enthusiastic enough to carry the project forward himself.

For those who intend on visiting future AVP Houses, read on and decide whether you'll come or not. Thus:

To ensure that your stay in the house will be a happy one, you must learn and take to heart a few simple rules:

1) A House for Everyone is not a hotel. The organizers of the House are not obliged to offer you any services, comforts, or beds, and will not take you by your hand along the tourist trail. At night you'll have to sleep on the floor (bring a sleeping bag and a sleeping mat with you), while for the toilet and shower you'll have to wait in a queue. If you go trekking, it depends on your own ideas, routes, abilities and motivation. If you want, get a group of people together and go with them; if you don't want to go out with other people, go alone; and if if you don't want to go somewhere, then don't go. Self-reliance is the basis of your happiness! There is no one to plan "cultural programmes" for you! And no one guarantees that there will be someone at home to open the door at the moment you arrive -- so telephone in advance.

2) Alcohol is strictly forbidden in AVP Houses. It is forbidden to drink or bring with you any liquor, beer or drugs. In the event that someone has been drinking, he will be sent away from the House right away. There is also no smoking in AVP Houses. In some cases there might be a special area for smoking, but as a rule, smokers aren't accommodated in the House. We recommend quitting such unhealthy habits right away, and in the meantime, smoke far away from the House.

3) There is a system of authority in AVP Houses. As a rule, Anton Krotov is in charge and it is necessary to listen to him. If Anton Krotov is absent, oversight of life in the House will pass to other competent people, friends of Anton Krotov or other people known to him. The key (or keyring) serves as a symbol of authority, and there may be several of them. Keys will be given to tried and true people. The head of the House, or his substitute, or people on duty in the House welcome new residents, determine the time for everyone to go to sleep, send people out to buy food, receive guests and send local people away, carry out discussions with any disturbed neighbours, landlords or other authorities and ensure everyone leaves the House when it's time to bring it to a close. It is essential to listen to the head. They have the right to send away any resident from the House or hasten his departure. This is not a democracy, but people who bother the other residents may be sent away by the head based on a majority vote of the residents. (Fortunately there haven't been any such cases yet.)

4) AVP Houses may have a common kitchen, and even if we don't cook in the house, we at least drink tea there. For that reason everyone should contribute to the kitchen, without waiting for the leaders to say something first. For strategic items, a list is usually posted (e.g. sugar, bread, tea, soap, toilet paper, etc.) and these should always be at hand. If some essential item is missing, don't complaint, but go out and buy them ideally in bulk. We don't recommend buying in small quantities. Spoons, dishes and other household items are always useful in AVP Houses. It's also necessary to wash the dishes, and not only your own, but any other dishes you find accumulated.

The House for Everyone exists thanks to a) the enthusiasm and flow of time and money of those who participate in it, but also b) voluntary contributions of money from those who wish to donate. If Anton Krotov's enthusiasm ends, so might the project. We strongly welcome people who want to organize and maintain Houses for Everyone independently from us. So far, we aren't aware of other such houses in the world. You can use our experiences and the information we're gathered to organize your own House for Everyone anywhere in Russia or the wider world. Or you can toss some money to Anton Krotov during the removal and resettlement of the next House. All donations received (there's a list on the internet) are not payments for accommodation, but a general investment in the development of the project. In everyday life in the AVP House, its sponsors cannot demand any advantages, privileges, soft beds, delicious meals, etc. over the other residents of the House.

6) Pets are not welcome in AVP Houses. Leave them at home. Small, dependent children of pre-school age are also not desirable. Also, people should be clean and they shouldn't stink. Wash your clothes, shower, change your socks, etc. – there's no place for smelly people in a House for Everyone!

7) Entry to the AVP House is only possible when the leader or his substitute is there will a key. Leaving it is also not possible at any time. The House is not a hotel with 24-hour reception. There is no special person who oversees the entrance and exit of guests. Consequently, be ready to arrive when one of the authorities is at the House. Call one of the telephone numbers which are announced on the internet beforehand. If you arrive at a bad time, when there's no one in the AVP House, you have only yourself to blame. Then you can take a walk through the city or see the countryside, stay in a hotel, with a local person or in your tent and wait for one of the leaders to arrive.

8) If you want to help the House project with your own enthuasiasm and efforts you can act as a messenger, going to the location of the House beforehand, finding out about the accommodation and helping to arrange it. It is necessary to discuss this with Anton Krotov in advance. If you agree about it in advance, you might transport our photo albums, books, maps and house appliances. You might transport our household items back to Moscow. You can also make a donation to the Project in advance. You can discuss with Anton Krotov all possibilities to help by e-mail at or calling the Moscow numbers (495) 457-8949 or (903) 500-9850. You can open your own House for Everyone with these rules or your own. Activity! Initiative!

9) The common language at AVP Houses is Russian. Every foreigner is welcome to live with us, but don't expect that everyone will be able to communicate in English and translate everything for you. Learn Russian or come with a Russian speaker.

10) A House for Everyone acts as a place to store people and things – when someone is leaving for a time, they should place their things in some out of the way place – on a shelf, in a closet, in a plastic bag, in a backpack or a sack – and write the name of the owner on it. All unclaimed items at the closing of the AVP House will be given away, sold or disposed of in some other way. Additionally, although no items have been stolen from residents in our Houses, we don't recommend leaving important documents, expensive computers or cameras or large sums of money.

11) We maintain good relations with local residents and our neighbours but always with the other inhabitants of the House. Fights, scandals, aggressive relationships, arguments – are forbidden among the residents of the House. There should be no loud arguments. Also don't offend the local residents, frighten them with our large group of people, gather in large groups around the house or nearby which might ruin our relations with neighbours, shopkeepers and landlords. We're spreading peace and friendship among nations, carrying out in AVP Houses an example of communal living, unity and love among different people from different nations. Our House is a house for all of humanity. Any ideology, religion, viewpoints, teachings, any nationality, people of all ages and all races are welcome in the AVP House, which is a small protection of the world as a whole.

Anton Krotov, Arkhangelsk, Brevennik Island, February 2010