2013 Ultimate Train Challenge

The Ultimate Train Challenge was a concept YWNR founder Michael Hodson came up with in 2010 while traveling in South America. A huge train fan since his youth, Michael had recently finished a sixteen-month travel challenge to circle the globe without leaving the ground. Seeking a new travel challenge, his mind wandered to the question: “What is the world record for longest continuous train journey?”

So it began…

In September of 2011, he and two travel-blogging friends, Jeannie Mark of Nomadic Chick and Nora Dunn of The Professional Hobo, set out on a quest to answer that question. The challenge: Lisbon to Saigon in 30 days – all on trains, of course.

Each chose different routes through Europe – reunited in Moscow – and traveled together to Saigon. All in all, they racked up almost *15,000 miles/ 25,000 kilometers* apiece, and had the time of their lives. [That whole effort is documented at UltimateTrainChallenge.com .]

Now it’s time for YOU to join the fun – this time with great prizes up for grabs and some Charity love too!

Here are the basics on how this is going to work — coming up in May of 2013:

You have to make it from Saigon or Lisbon — or Lisbon to Saigon — in the month of May. All by train. 31 days. You make your own schedule. You decide where you are going and how much you are going to push yourself.

  • If you register with us by February 15th, you pay $295 US (approx £183 / €223.)
  • If you register from February 16th to April 30th, you pay $395 US (approx £245 / €298.)

What do you get for your entry fee? Click through here and we’ll go over it in full. In short, we’ve lined up some great sponsors that are offering over $6k worth of prizes to people willing to take up this challenge.

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’s about having an adventure you are going to be able to tell your grandkids about. It’s about challenging yourself 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 actually experience the vastness and wonder of the planet we live on.

Big Question – is it ALL trains, all the time??!!

Absolutely not. When Michael, Jeannie and Nora did the same route in 2013, the each ended up having between 20-22 days they took a train. Some of those were full train travel days (most notably the six full days between Moscow and Beijing), but some other days were only 3-4 hours to get somewhere.

You will have plenty of time to get off the trains, see things and explore. Michael spent time exploring France, Belgium, Berlin, and Lithuania. Jeanne spent time exploring Spain, then over to Italy and Prague. Nora spent time exploring Spain, Switzerland, Prague and the Ukraine. Then they all joined up and explored Beijing, Guillen in southern China and Hanoi.

You will have a good bit of time to see the world, not just from a train window.

Plus you are lending a helping hand

We are also doing this for a good cause. We 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, as a group we are going to do a small part to make the world a better place.

Please feel free to click through all the links in the sidebar over there to your upper right. They will help explain more of the Ultimate Train Challenge for you. We’ve put together some resource pages for you to help decide on your route and work through your visas. We have explanations of each and every prize our sponsors are offering. We explain the charity request more fully. And we are always here and available to be contacted via email if you have any more questions.

Sign up. We promise this will be the adventure you are looking for.

enter UTC12


Quotes from Past Participants

“I couldn't have imagined the adventures that lay ahead when I signed on to the Ultimate Train Challenge. Even as a full-time traveler, I count the Ultimate Train Challenge as one of the most exciting things I've done around the world. And sharing adventures and camaraderie with the other participants made it all the more special and fun.” Nora Dunn UTC 2011
“At first the prospect seemed impossible to do — trains from Lisbon, Portugal to Saigon, Vietnam in 30 days?! I wondered what I signed up for. As i saw Michael's vision unfold, his enthusiasm for train travel and savoring the culture of train life was infectious. I signed up for his cult without qualms. I guarantee with the Ultimate Train Challenge, it's not the destinations that matter, but what you discover along the way.” Jeannie Mark UTC 2011

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Yes, this sounds like an incredible experience. I can't take it anymore—I want in!

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