Via Real Russia — The Ultimate Train Challenge does the Trans-Manchurian 27

There are so many reasons that I am excited about the upcoming Ultimate Train Challenge — and by upcoming, it is now officially only 20 days away!

First on my reasons for excitement are the three other fabulous travel bloggers that I get to work with on this whole effort, Anil of Fox Nomad, Jeannie of Nomadic Chick and Nora of the Professional Hobo. They have really been stalwarts in helping organize this whole effort, which frankly was a lot more work than I ever would have anticipated when I came up with this idea as a bit of a lark.

real russian trans-mongolian train services logo

Secondly is the chance to work with some great sponsors that have signed up to help up along the way. Real Russia U.K. is one of our amazing sponsors — they are going to be the folks that get us from Moscow to Bejing on the Trans-Manchurian railroad.

Trans-Manchurian — slightly new route for me.

I have done the Trans-Mongolian before, during my big RTW trip without leaving the ground, but I am so much more excited about this trip. Last time, I booked my own ticket in Moscow and got onto a train that was basically empty. While the Trans-Mongolian is a very interesting, and classic, train route, it is going to be a whole lot more interesting when I get to spend 5-6 days with Nora, Jeannie and Anil.

And this time, I get the added bonus of rolling through Manchuria, which will be all new scenery for me to experience.

But back to our amazing sponsor for a minute. Here is what you need to know about Real Russa — they are the best company out there to help plan your Russian/Mongolian/Chinese train adventure. Frankly, dealing with Russia is a complete pain in the ass (it is going to be shocking to those soccer/football fans that want to do to the World Cup there in 2018) and trying to do it on your own is not advisable.

Trans-Siberian railroad map, russian train route map

Real Russia provides visa assistance, bookings for hotels and hostels, obviously train bookings, and even advice on how to get married in Russia.

See how I did that?  Now my mother is even going to click over to their website.

They have been a complete joy to work with. It is nice to have a chance to work with the best people in any field and the Real Russia team is exactly that.

Rumor has it that we are going to meet some of their Moscow staff and head out for dinner and drinks when we all arrive there on the 16th of September. Fair warning now…. no vodka shots for me.

A little note here about something that is really important to me and the other bloggers on this trip. We have partnered up with a great charity in Vietnam and are trying to raise $10,000 for them as part of our challenge. Here is the link you can click through and read about it on the Train Challenge website. Please take fiveminutes, go read about them, and if you are financially able, please make a contribution in our names.

We will be going to see the kids that are going to be on the receiving end of these funds at the end of our trip in Vietnam. It would be great to be able to deliver a big check to help them out.  Thanks.


Real Russia is a specialist travel agency for independent, tourist and business travellers, offering expertise and knowledge on travel services in Russia, such as the visa application process, train travel, accommodation and tours. Based in London, Real Russia has their own offices in Moscow and Volgograd; this enables provision of a reliable and flexible service to all clients, no matter where they are on their journey. As train enthusiasts, and as one of the largest providers of Russian train travel and Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian tours, Real Russia saw the Ultimate Train Challenge as an important event to be involved in; and provided the bloggers’ tickets from Moscow to Beijing, as well as offering visa support documentation and advice throughout the whole application and booking process.



About Michael Hodson

I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all.

27 thoughts on “Via Real Russia — The Ultimate Train Challenge does the Trans-Manchurian

  • Audrey

    This sounds like such an incredible adventure and you’ve got a great team put together! I will definitely be following you guys 😀

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      I am completely excited. I get almost irrationally happy thinking about train rides.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Thanks for finding us. Totally looking forward to people’s input before, during and after.

  • Matt

    I love traveling by train. I did it all over Europe back in the early 90’s and thought that we should develop a rail system in the US. This sounds like an incredible adventure. I look forward to hearing about it. Are the trains in Russia pretty nice?

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      I wish the US had a more extensive train system set up. One of the faults of our country, for sure. And I am jealous of your train rides in the early 90s. Wish I had been doing that, back then.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Hoping to make this an annual event. Would absolutely love to have you in 2012.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Thanks, Don. It should be an adventure. No travel goes according to plan for me… so lots of excitement coming up for sure.

  • Maria

    Love that your posts are informative and peppered with humor. “See how I did that? Now my mother is even going to click over to their website.” I’m still gigglin’ over that one.

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Given your profile picture…. bet my mother has also clicked through to your website now. As she thinks to herself: “hmmm, well, she’s a traveler also…”

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      I will start getting excited when I get my passport back, with the visas I need 😉

    • Michael Hodson Post author

      Not extraordinarily happy with the company doing my visas right now. Might not get much of a positive review her in a few weeks.

  • Abby

    Have always admired the entrepreneurial brain that comes up with so many out-of-the-box ideas “on a lark.” Such an exciting project!!!

  • Theodora

    A bunch of us are now seriously discussing doing the Trans-Manchurian with, umm, a whole buncha kids. Good to hear your take on it…

  • Marianne Pacheco

    I have heard similar things about Russia. Totally looking forward to people’s input before, during and after. I took Russian for a year in university, but have never been…You guys will have a blast! Very jealous that you are travelling through Russia!

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