Hennie Addresses COVID-19

Hennie Addresses COVID-19

Dear friends,

My name is Hennie Van den Hengel and I am the founder of Tripsite and now share company ownership with my son and two daughters. We are originally from Holland, but when the children were young, my husband and I moved the family to the US to begin an agricultural business. We made rural Pennsylvania our home. It was wonderful to do what I loved, and when we decided to sell that business, I focused on another love- cycling. I grew up on a farm, but I also grew up on a bike! I decided to start another venture, a bike touring company. That was in 1999.

Me with my children in front of our old home in Holland. From left to right, Jan, Gea, and Henk. Carla, who you may have spoken with on the phone or email, wasn't born yet.

There was a time that I would recognize your voice when you would call! That was back when we still did business from my home and I was the only one answering the phone. Many of you will remember those days. That is how long you have traveled with us.

An office photo taken in 2011 when Tripsite was relatively young, no pun intended. From left to right, Carla, Hennie, Baby Liam, Jan, Julia and Eva, Gea with baby and dog on lap, and Mary and her daughter Anna

When 9/11 happened I was in the office of a potential new partner in Southern Germany. I had come with my passion for cycling, my dream to grow my brand, new business, and my proposal based on a model of mutual cooperation. We all remember where we were that day our world changed. We watched in horror as the morning events unfolded. We mourned the loss of life and remember well the fear and anxiety that followed.

The Coronavirus has snuck up on us in another way and our world has changed yet again. And again, we are all dealing with loss of life, illness, and the familiar fear, anxiety, and confusion. We are all struggling to keep current and informed.

Regarding your travel, as we continue to update you, we must rely not only on our own country’s policies but also on our partners’ country and business policies. Please know that it is not our intention to keep you in the dark.

Our hearts go out to all of our partners and their affiliates (boats, crew, staff, bike rental companies, hotels, transfer companies, and more) as they struggle to establish protocol and deal with the financial burden of cancellations. It is not business as usual. Many of the operators that Tripsite has chosen to partner with are small, family-owned companies, just like us.

Here I am with Lukas, our partner from the Czech Republic. He traveled all the way to our little office (at that time located above the garage!) to meet our team.

We are advocating on your behalf for flexible rebooking policies and I'm asking all of you who have been impacted to consider postponing your tour for later this year or to work with us regarding rebooking for next year. If you have not already been informed regarding the status of your tour, please contact us immediately and we can share more details with you.

For those who have bookings later in the year, we would ask you to consider rebooking for next year. This will support our providers as we all weather the storm together. We do know that with the flexible rebooking policies being implemented, it is more beneficial for everyone to postpone their travel plans to a future date. The airlines have set the example, and many are following suit. Please do not hesitate to email us and we can update you.

We remain optimistic about travel in 2021. There are many destinations that are now reopening that weren't as impacted by the virus. Small group tours, biking, and hiking tours are perfect for social distancing and getting away from the crowds and off the beaten path. We can assure you that our partners are doing everything they can, in compliance with local regulations, to provide a safe environment for travelers. Travel, and even our daily lives, may not get back to a sense of normalcy anytime soon, however, we must preserve and move forward.

I am truly humbled by the words of encouragement that many of you have shared and the resilience you show.

When I think back to the very beginnings of Tripsite, and reflect all these years later, I am overcome with gratitude for you, our faithful clients, and for my hardworking and very loyal team.

The other day when I left the office, I was greeted by my 6-year-old grandson, running towards me, arms and heart opened wide. That sweet embrace pulled me back to earth and reminded me of what is important.

As adventure travelers, we are all accustomed to enduring the uphill, but we know the descent awaits just over the crest. We anticipate that accomplishment, knowing the view is always the best at the very top.

Our mission was and still is "...to provide an opportunity for every traveler to explore the world and enjoy the journey at the perfect pace." For now, we are plodding ahead, tackling the challenges, and looking forward to new journeys!

We will pull through this hard time together. We may need an extra measure of patience and compassion (and some sweet embraces from those we love) but we will make it.

For the latest information please visit our travel updates page.

We understand you may have questions about your upcoming departure. Please note, we will contact you regarding the status of your trip as soon as we know. To contact us, please use this form or email us at info@tripsite.com. Thank you!

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About the Author

Hennie van den Hengel

Hennie is Dutch through and through, from her love for cycling to her strong work ethic. Born in Holland, she lived there 34 years before coming to Pennsylvania. Along with daughter Gea, Hennie founded Tripsite in a spare bedroom of her home. Those who know Hennie, know that she brings a passion to…

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Rory O’Connell
10 months ago

Verified Reviewer

Thanks to your helpful and friendly team/family, the barge companies and everyone directly involved for getting plans and trips rebooked!
We are glad we chose your Team for our bike and barge, looking forward to 2021! Stay safe!!
The O’Connells

11 months ago

Verified Reviewer

Dear Hennie,
What a beautiful story you shared with us about your life and your business. I believe you have conducted yourself in an exemplary way, and treated those around you with great respect and kindness. It is all one could truly ask of a person. We had been approaching our trip with happy anticipation, looking forward to a new view of this part of the world, and open to the unexpected sights and experiences that travel provides.
I too remember 9/11 quite well. I was an airline pilot for almost 40 years, and on that beautiful September day, I was laying over in Boston, and scheduled to fly a 767 to Los Angeles. Of course, as I heard what was happening that morning, I realized my world had irrevocably changed. My wife and I spoke on the phone and she wept, grateful I was not flying the early departure that day, and overwhelmed by the overarching sadness of the day, the almost inexplicable tragedy of it. Indeed, as we all could have predicted, nothing in the airline Read More

Ed Paquette
1 year ago

Verified Reviewer

Sorry Covid-19, but if you think you are going to get between my beloved Tripsite Bike and Barge experiences and me...that just ain't happening.
Special thanks to Wendy for weathering the storm with our group. We are all rescheduled for 2021. But, don't count us out for a last minute Fall 2020 booking if the fates allow. Stay healthy everyone!

1 year ago

Verified Reviewer

Thanks for sharing - it makes everything just so much more personal. We are looking forward to our tour ... just one year later :) 2021 here we come.

Lisa Smoak
1 year ago

Verified Reviewer

Hennie & company,
Thank you for the encouraging and uplifting words. I wish you all the best during this very difficult time. We are not scheduled to sail (bike) until October, and who knows what the circumstances will be at that time. Stay healthy.

Angela N Scheibe
1 year ago

Verified Reviewer

Aww, it was so nice to hear from you. I loved your personal story and now I feel I know some of you, like Carla, whom we've had conversations about our scheduled trip in June. Both my husband and I are thankful to have placed ourselves in your hand to go in what we expect to be the most anticipated adventure of our lives.
We will have to postpone for now, but we are looking forward to our next try with Tripsite, with peace of mind knowing you care.
We will do what we must, following the guidelines and governmental orders, and stay positive and certain that this too shall pass soon and life will be richer. So long for now. Angela & Steve Scheibe

Peg Hanson
1 year ago

Verified Reviewer

Everyone at Tripsite:
Please know that THE MINUTE this awful situation has our world in a better place I will be booking my yearly bike tour. All my travels with TRIPSITE have brought me such joy and so many wonderful memories. I send all my positive energy to you and your many partners throughout the world. Stay strong and bike on!!!
Peg Hanson

Maryann Williams
1 year ago

Verified Reviewer

Thanks for your blog. We are scheduled for a France trip May 2, supposedly leaving the states on April 28. I'm looking forward to hearing from you as to what our options may be, fully understanding that this epidemic impacts everyone. Thanks for your work on our behalf...

Kevin Armstrong
1 year ago

Verified Reviewer

Hennie and the whole Tripsite staff,

My brother and I are behind the Tripsite family. It is hard to find a company like yous that not only talks the talk but Bike the talk. No matter how this year plays put we will continue to come back and enjoy the amazing service and the great selection of tours available. We also know how we need to not only support your company in these trying times but you partners in all of the countries around the world who being hit hardest.

We look forward to exploring with the Tripsite family!

Kevin & Fulton

Martha Harding
1 year ago

Verified Reviewer

Thank you for this note. We are still optimistic for our September travels. We will continue to look out for your updates. Thank you also for sharing your story. Half of my Heritage is Dutch. My mom is a Dutch war Bride who married a Canadian who helped liberate her village of Haren all those years ago. Congratulations on the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Holland!

Gerald Richardson
1 year ago

Verified Reviewer

Just wondering what you know about our trip on May 31. Thanks

cheryl schroeder
1 year ago

Verified Reviewer

Dear Hennie,

What comforting words during this time of uncertainty. Thank you for your reassurance. I'm Kristin's sister (from the Merlijn Christmas market trip) and we are really looking forward to our 2021 8-day Tulip Trip. It will be nice to give back to these businesses that are being hit hard by COVID 19. I didn't get a chance to say this during our trip but I am continually impressed that you started this business. Best (and healthy) wishes, Cheryl Schroeder

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