Living in Europe has taught me to appreciate trains in a way I couldn’t when I was living in the US. Train travel just isn’t a good option in most parts of the US. But I’ve realized it’s a much more scenic and relaxing way to travel. Andy and I don’t have a car here, so we travel by train a lot. We’ve even decided the hassles of flying combined with Andy’s fear of flying are reasons enough to take a train instead of fly, unless the cost or time of doing so is completely impractical.
This means we’ve been doing a lot of fantasy train travel planning. Every so often we see a train at the Freiburg station that’s bound for Moscow. Amazing that there’s actually a train you can take from Freiburg to Moscow without having to switch anywhere. But it makes us think, wouldn’t it be great to hop on? Or what about taking a few days to go back to Lisbon by train? Andy has also been talking about the Trans Siberian ever since we met.
Because of my new interest in trains, I was intrigued when three travel bloggers did the Ultimate Train Challenge in late 2011. They traveled from Lisbon to Saigon, all by train, in one month! Sound like fun? Well, I’m happy to tell you it has been opened up so that anyone can do it this year. If you are looking for a way to challenge yourself this year, this concept might be for you.
The concept is a simple one: You have to make it from Saigon to Lisbon — or Lisbon to Saigon — in the month of May. All 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… 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 also. 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 AA13UTC 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 challenging your limits and doing something that very few other people have done. 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.
The Charity Aspect to it All
They also have partnered up with Blue Dragon’s Children Foundation in Vietnam to raise some needed funds to help out their cause. We 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.
This is doable with friends or on your own. Live your life with no regrets.
Sign up. This will be the adventure that will change your life. And don’t forget… on that sign up page you input AA13UTC in the “Referral” box to get $30 off your entry fee and tell them that you found the UTC13 from here. Thanks!