It has now been exactly 3 months and 22 days since I finished The Adventurists Mongol Rally. I’d say I’ve only just about recovered. Ticking off the Adventurists Mongol Rally on your life achievement list is freaking kickass but you have to earn that badge. Teams are already getting ready for the next one in 2017 and I want to tell you from the bottom of my heart what it is REALLY LIKE to do the Mongol Rally (because there are so many things you just DON’T KNOW when you throw yourself into this s**tshow).
Wait…What Is The Adventurists Mongol Rally?
OK…let’s backtrack. The Adventurist’s Mongol Rally is a test of how psycho, open-minded, danger-loving and downright superhero you are feeling when you make the decision to take part in this madness. Your mission is to drive from the UK to Mongolia (with the finish line just over the border in Russia, any route you want, in the crappiest car possible and make it there alive, whilst raising £1000 for charity. As the Adventurists put it themselves…
There’s no backup, no support and no set route; just you, your fellow adventurists and a tiny car you bought from a scrapyard for £11.50.
If you’re at all curious about what you need to know about the Adventurist’s Mongol Rally, here’s the meaty gossip.
Choose Your Team Very Carefully
Aww look at us all. All clean, rosy and cosy. NOPE. Complete and utter lies.
I’m well known for being able to get on with ANYONE and it takes a lot for me to finally lose the plot. A LOT. Well, a certain team member officially did enough. So much so, that my last few weeks of the rally were (un)successfully coped with on copious amounts of dubious Russian moonshine and hiding in other teams’ cars. It all came to a head with me screaming my frustrations into a crummy sweat-caked car seat whilst punching the glove box repeatedly (gotta keep it classy).
We took a big risk in theoretically agreeing to get married before we’d even met each other. We met online, conducted all our planning online and some of us met for the first time ever at the Adventurists Mongol Rally start line.
High fives for the big balls we had for doing that. Get the weepy violins out for us for that not working out well. It’s 100% true that you don’t know someone till you travel with them but make sure you have an idea of who you’re dealing with somewhat before you go.
Money Is A Serious Stress
The Adventurists Mongol Rally is expensive. Not only are you raising £1000 for charity…you need to buy a car, car insurance for every country, visas for every country, food, drink, PETROL (Oh sweet mother Mary that’s expensive in Europe). You’ll have inevitable car repairs, hotel accommodation when you can’t take s**tting in a dirt hole next to a dead sheep anymore, dodgy police fines, toll booth charges and you might have to replace objects that get broken and lost. Paula, I’m sorry I lost the toll booth ticket in Italy.
When it comes to finances in your team you need to understand what everyone’s budget is, what you want to spend money on, and make sure that the purse strings are with someone who can keep track of it all. It’s guaranteed your team WILL have arguments about money, so set your expectations from the start.
If You Get Sponsorship…Make Sure You Can Deliver
Team #WeLive were absolutely blessed with the backing of many sponsors to help us make it to the finish line. We decided what we could offer as a team, put it together in a media kit and negotiated with businesses about what was possible.
Truth is that it took us way longer to deliver what we promised than we thought. Think about it. You’re living in a car. Internet is ridiculously sporadic. You’re just trying to stay alive…tweets aren’t the first thing on your mind. So, think carefully about what you can offer if you decide to fund this mayhem this way.
Do Not Take 2 Cars For 1 Team
We thought taking 2 cars was genius. It was a stupid idea. We thought by having two cars we would be able to have more breathing space and rotate with each other. We thought it would be more comfortable. In reality, it divided us. It made communication incredibly difficult, some of us never wanted to be in the same car with each other and it was DOUBLE THE COST. Take one car and have four people in your team MAX.
You Have To Like Being In A Car
There were times where we would drive 18 hours a day. Sometimes all through the night. If you like cars, living in a car, driving a car and fixing cars, you’re gonna be fine. If this is your idea of a nightmare, stop reading right here buddy.
Your Body Is Your Temple
The hilarious thing is when we all thought we were getting tanned but we were actually just covered in crap. One shower a week does wonders for your tan, let me tell you. We completely treated ourselves like rubbish. We lived off noodles and vodka for 2 months. If you’re 18, you’ll be fine. If you’re my age, you might just hate yourself. At least take a bottle of probiotics, a water filter bottle and buy a banana now and again. Because you’re worth it.
You Must Get Travel Insurance
People have died on the rally. People have got caught in Kazakhstan pooping out bright orange gunk from their guts for 2 weeks (that will be me). We all got sick. I ended up in hospital in Russia for two weeks after I got to the finish line. That was fun (not). Admittedly, my Russian improved a lot (as they didn’t speak any English) but if it wasn’t for the World Nomads Travel Insurance I got, I would have been crawling the streets of Ulan Ude feeling sorry for myself.
Don’t Plan Anything
Team #WeLive set off with the clear intention of documenting women’s stories and rights along our way. We’re passionate women and wanted to see how others live. We managed it and we’re bringing out a book in 2017 to share these incredible stories with you. In reality though, this was stupidly hard. Doing the Adventurists Mongol Rally is enough to handle, let alone trying to meet people on certain dates and times.
Some of us thought it necessary to book hotels ahead. Fricking ridiculous idea. All of us researched the amazing Soviet relics we wanted to see. Due to this and that, we didn’t see any of them. We regretfully had to cancel our appointments with some of the kickass women we wanted to talk to. That sucked.
If we were to do it all again, we’d just tell ourselves that we have to get from the UK to Mongolia and leave it like that. You can’t plan this crap.
But…Go To All Of The Parties
Sure, you might not make them all but to keep your sanity in check, just join up with all the other crazies at the prearranged parties on the way. The Adventurists have a few that they set up along the different routes so everyone has an extra excuse to drink even more alcohol. Most importantly though, this is an opportunity to let off steam, share your ups and downs with complete strangers, make friends for life and shake ya ass. Word.
Be Mindful, Present And Record Everything
The Adventurists Mongol Rally is going to flash before your eyes. There was one day where we went through 4 countries in one day (OK, yes, it was in Europe) but still, this ‘holiday’ is not a chance to take your merry old time. Realistically, you’ve only got 2 months maximum to get from the UK to Russia (check out some awesome top travel tips for this awesome country here) before the Adventurists start collecting dust and tear the finish line down.
Taking the southern route is going to mean you’re going to have to go way faster, but for us it was worth it to see that part of the world. To really enjoy this experience, you’re going to have to be mindful, present in the moment and record everything through video, pictures and diaries because it’s just so bloody fast. Too fast.
Most Of All…Don’t You Dare Give Up
Out of the 320 teams that started the Mongol Rally, only about a third made it. There are a ton of reasons for that.
Yes, cars break down and you might not have enough money between you to even buy a Mongolian animal for lunch, so you gotta ditch the car. OR, from my experience, mentally you just can’t take it anymore and have to bail. A LOT of teams did that. Or you miss home, or just need a shower or can’t take fast travel like this.
If something really serious happens, go home, BUT with all your might, I strongly recommend you stick to your guns and get your ass to that finish line. The feeling of getting there and laughing at death in the face is highly rewarding.
Would I Do The Adventurists Mongol Rally Again?
And after all this total s**tshow of a journey, right this minute, I’m talking with the girls about doing it again in 2018. Someone call the guys in the white coats…
49 thoughts on “10 Things You Need To Know For The Adventurists Mongol Rally”
Wow~ What a fun experience. I have never heard of this, but it sure looks like a fun way to travel and live on the edge. So glad to see you made it!
Thank you so much Sara. We’re very relieved to have made it :)
Oh my! This sounds extremely crazy but also fun. Not sure I’d do it but what an adeventure. Good luck in 2017!! Nothing like enjoying life with such freedom.
Hey Edith & Juan! It sure was crazy. Super crazy! It’s a one of a kind adventure though and if anyone is considering doing it, I’d say go for it but prepare yourselves for a hell of a ride :)
Sounds like an epic whirlwind of emotions!! I would expect that this kind of journey would have it’s ups and downs, but you never really appreciate just how difficult something like this can be until you’re in the midst. Fantastic tips Alice, I think one of the most important things for people going in is to have realistic expectations, and this is a fantastic resource for that.
Will be keenly following if you take it up again in 2018!!
Hi Meg! I think we all had no idea how hard it would be. I’m so proud of us all for getting to the finish line though! WE DID IT :D 2018 might just be happening >< We'll see!
I’ve heard so much about this mongol rally. While I absolutely love reading about it, I don’t think I could handle it as much of an adventure that it would be. I’m not 19 anymore and I like my creature comforts! Hilarious post and great tips for anyone considering doing the rally.
It really is an unique adventure and I’m so happy I did it BUT hopefully this gives a down to earth idea of what it is really like ><
I’ve never heard of this. I don’t think I could handle the crappy car part – it’s way too stressful to worry about the car breaking! In my current walk of life (mom to two young kids), I could not do this. It sounds pretty incredible, though! Your recap is hilarious.
Haha thank you so much Natalie. Reading about it is certainly enough for some people and that’s totally OK! Glad you enjoyed the post :D
Certainly looks like a cool adventure. Rather you than me though as im afraid im more into luxury travel especially transport and a much slower paced way of life lol
Haha yes this is definitely not for the luxurious travellers out there I’m afraid ><
Woah! I’d love to meet you! This must be one total mind blowing experience, and you must need an extremely strong mental state to manage it! Amazing. Don’t know how you did it!!
Alex if you’re in the UK, by all means, let’s say hello! You have to be mentally strong for sure…sometimes I wonder how the hell I did it too haha but I am incredibly proud to say I have done it!
This is fantastic. I’ve heard vaguely of the Mongol Rally over the years, but never with quite this level of candidness. Cheers to you for being realistic about the speed at which you must travel, the inevitable poor food choices, choosing the right teammates, etc. I would probably also have started with a huge agenda of sightseeing and photographs I wanted to take…and then ditched it all as well!
You can count on me for getting the candidness out there Drew!
What an amazing adventure! I’ve never heard of it but it reminds me of similar journeys on motorcycles. My husband and I dream of a motorcycle trip like this one day. I’m going to pass along this interesting post!
Wow, that really is a challenge and I don’t think I would be caught dead doing all that for an adventure with so many odds of even finishing. I think I’ll stick to visiting national parks for a little longer and taking pics from a rental car.
Omg, Alice! This is crazy! I think my favorite part was when you spoke about how the noodles and vodka might not be the best for someone your age..”At least take a bottle of probiotics, a water filter bottle and buy a banana now and again. Because you’re worth it.” I was hilarious. Anyways, I give you tons of credit. Having a break down in a car is just about my worst nightmare. But, the adventure sounds absolutely unforgettable and you raised some money for charity, so major kudos!
I’ve known of the Mongol Rally for years but didn’t know any of the gritty details about it so it’s awesome to come across your post. I never thought of the money side of of it, I think that would be too much for me, even if I was to score sponsorship, they’d be more additional stress & pressure involved with that. Hats off to you guys, I could never do this myself!
Thank you so much Sheena! The money is a serious issue. FOR REALS!
This is a fantastic article, Alice! I’ve always wanted to do the Mongol rally one day and it’s good to have such an honest and funny account to help decide Hope 2017 brings you more wonderful adventures!
You can count on me for the honesty Lucy :) I’m looking forward very much to what this year brings and I wish you the absolute same <3
What an adventure. It sounds like so much fun. Even though I don´t know if I´d be brave enough :)
You could do it Neni!! It’s tough but an amazing feeling once you get to the end!
Oh wow! That sounds like one hell of an adventure. I’ve never heard about the Mongol Rally and I’m not sure I’d *ever* make it to the finish line (sitting in a car for 18 hours straight, for God knows how many weeks in a row would probably drive me insane), but I loved reading your story. The photo with the melon made me laugh out loud! :D
Hahaha oh yes the melons became quite a feature! The Mongol Rally really isn’t for everyone and hopefully this provides a down to earth view of what really can happen!
Wow that seems intense and yes – I would agree “your body is your temple” and thanks a lot for sharing , it must be a great experience!
It was INTENSE!! You must look after yourself whilst travelling for sure and don’t forget that travel insurance :D
This is so interesting! I enjoyed reading your experience and this is I think a quirky way of traveling! cheers!
You can certainly say that it’s an unique way to get across the world :D
For a while, I’ve thought the Mongol Rally is something I’d want to do. The concept is very attractive – romantic, even. I knew there had to be more to it, though. The biggest surprise for me, reading this, is how expensive it is. Sorry to hear about your hospital stay and the orange gunk!
It is seriously expensive! Obviously cheaper with one car but still quite a dent in your pocket. Yeah let’s forget about that orange gunk haha!
ROFL, awesome tips. While I think it’s cool, exciting, and one of those once in a lifetime experiences, I’m way too old for that sh*t. Glad to hear you’re okay. Good thing you had travel insurance.
Bwahahaha ‘way too old for that sh*t’. I hear you girl and yes Travel Insurance is a freaking must!
I think both you and this post is kick ass. I would love to bring my Jeep Wrangler to the starting line and finish the race in it!!! I think it would handle to off road ishhh perfect. It does sound very expensive but I give you props!!!
Aww you are a sweetie Christopher thank you! You might struggle getting that Jeep into the race though. The rules say you have to have a crap car for the reason that you need more trouble in your life right?!
Congratulations, That was a crazy adventure I have never heard in my life but it was worth it and it was for a good cause. You should definitely choose your fellow travelers carefully if you are to stay in a car for so long
I hear you Chrysoula! It was indeed a totally crazy adventure but we’re very happy about the money we raised for charity and for the amazing women that we met!
What a crazy adventure! That’s something I’d definitely sign up for, if it wasn’t for the primary fact I don’t drive and have no intention to learn how to. :-(
Haha aww Pedro! I have to say, some teams do have teammates in there that actually do not drive! Megan our photographer did not drive and documented all of it for us instead!
This is awesome! I’ve always wanted to do the Mongol Rally, but haven’t been able to! You’re photos make me yearn for doing it asap haha! Awesome adventure and keep on exploring!
Kepp your eyes peeled for more to come!
Hi Alice! The husband and I have signed up for the rally this year , 2017. Butt I only just read your post haha! Should have read it first. Would love to ask you some more questions about your experience if you were up for that? I live in the North East of England (but right now I’m in Colombia). Maybe you could email me if you get a moment? Thanks for the post, loved it!
Ooooooh Sally you’re in the Mongol Rally gang now! Feel free to pop me a message at aliceteacake (at) gmail (dot) com :)
You have no idea how proud I am about you whenever I hear Mongol Rally. This must have been the crazy ride of all :) Glad to see you meet some crazy people and went so many places.. See you in India :)
Aww thank you Rutavi and I am so proud of you for doing the Rickshaw Run! Girl power!
Hi Alice, We completed the mongol rally this year has part of our honeymoon. It was great to be able to get tips from your page. It also inspired us to make some notes from our adventure!. Thank you!
This is so awesome to hear Georgia! Congrats on getting to the finish line. You guys rock <3