If you’ve been following my journey over the last year and a half, you know I have quite a bit of experience traveling by train – from riding the Trans-Siberian across Russia to partying on an overnight train in Georgia to sweltering in 100 degree heat as I crossed Kazakhstan. Every trip brought new memories – and new challenges.
My first major train trip – from Vladivostok to Ulan Ude – came not long after I heard about the Ultimate Train Challenge – fellow travel bloggers Michael, Jeannie and Nora traveling from Lisbon to Saigon entirely by train – in just 30 days.
Last summer, I heard that Michael was planning to organize a second Ultimate Train Challenge and I was immediately intrigued – with an initial target of holding it in the fall, I seriously thought I might extend my career break trip and retrace a good portion of my trip to take part in the Challenge. Alas, he moved it to this spring, making it impossible for me to participate.
But the good news is: YOU STILL CAN!
The concept is a simple one: You have to make it from Saigon or Lisbon — or Lisbon to Saigon — in the month of May.
Entirely by train.
31 days of travel. You make your own schedule and choose your own route. You decide much you are going to push yourself and how many places you are going to try to hit.
Although it is about 15,000 miles (25,000 kilometers) to navigate, you will still have enough time to stop and do a lot off the trains. Barcelona, Paris, Venice, Berlin, Prague, Moscow, Beijing, Hanoi – so many great cities to hit along the way.
What do you get for your entry fee? They explain it all in full here. In short:
- You can blog your trip on their website to keep family and friends up to date with your journey;
- They have a live-mapping feature on the site, so you can everyone can keep up with you in real time;
- Intrepid Travel is offering two fabulous 15-day tours to the first ones to cross the finish line in each direction;
- They are going to throw a fun pre-launch party in both locations;
- Eurail is offering up at least four of their Global Passes that they will be raffling off and giving away as prizes;
- HostelWorld is offering two free nights’ stay in each city beforehand;
- and even more…
In order to keep up with the latest developments on new sponsors, prizes and other news, you can sign up for their free newsletter via this link. As an extra bonus, they will be doing a drawing from all the newsletter subscribers in February and will be giving away a new Samsung Galaxy SIII to one lucky subscriber.
- If you register by February 15th, the entry fee is $295 US (approx. £183 / €223).
- If you register from February 16th to April 30th, the entry fee is $395 US (approx. £245 / €298).
- And because you are entering from this post, you will get $30 off your entry fee. You just need to enter the code KA13UTC on the “Referral” line on the entry page to get the $30 discount.
But really, it’s not about the prizes. It’s not about the pre-event party we are going to throw in both cities for everyone. It’s not about the stuff…
It is about having an adventure you are going to talk about for years. It is about pushing your limits and doing something that very few other people have done. As I traveled the Trans-Siberian, my friend Laura pointed out that I was seeing parts of Russia that most Russians never see – you can do the same! From one corner of Europe to the far corner of Asia…. all by the best mode of transportation you can use to experience the vastness and wonder of the planet we live on.
But wait, there’s a charity aspect too!
They also have partnered up with Blue Dragon’s Children Foundation in Vietnam to raise funds to help their cause. They are asking each participant to raise $500 and Intrepid Travel has been generous enough to agree to match each donation dollar for dollar, up to a $10,000 total. So not only are you doing this whole adventure to challenge yourself, the entire group is going to do a small part to make the world a better place.
On the Your World, No Rules website, they explain everything you need to know about this event. They have also put together some resource pages for you to help decide on your route and work through your visas. And since I have traveled by train in some of the countries you might possibly cross (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan), I am happy to help readers of Katie Going Global with tips and advice before and during the Challenge. Just sign up using referral code KA13UTC and then let me know you’ll be participating!
This is doable, with friends or on your own. This will be the adventure that will change your life.
And don’t forget – when you sign up, enter KA13UTC in the “Referral” box to get $30 off your entry fee and tell them that you found the Ultimate Train Challenge from Katie Going Global. Thanks!