8 things you need to know about the Mongol Rally
So you’re thinking of taking on the infamous Mongol Rally, or venturing out on your own to take on the landscapes of countries afar. Well, good luck to you. Here is our 8 things you need to know about the Mongol Rally, and other trips like it.
You’ll be driving, a lot
I mean, it is a driving holiday. You’ll need to be very comfortable in a car, driving a car, pushing a car, fixing a car and sleeping in a car. And as there is an upper time limit (driven by annual leave restrictions, money, tiredness) on your trip, you do need to maintain some kind of pace. A larger team will be able to drive for longer times, on 3 hour rotations, and cover a lot of ground in a single day. 18 hour drives, and multiple countries in one go will not be uncommon. In the more remote countries, you might STILL drive 18hours, but only make it 15 feet due to the complete inadequacy of your steed, skills, tools and ability to take things seriously.
Things will get dirty, and not the good kind
You will be pooing in a hole in the ground. Dirt will blow in through every orifice of your car at all times, and you will have B.O. Don’t underestimate personal care and hygiene, it will compound all the other unpleasantries and push you further towards the “I just want to go home” end of the adventure scale. Wash at every chance you get, take a filtered water bottle, take some roll on and some multi-vits.
Travel insurance is key
No seriously, get insurance. You will get sick at some stage, and you are at times going to be in genuine danger of injury. Think about it, you’ll be miles (and miles and miles) from the nearest town, fixing a battered car with little kit and no clue, if you have an accident what happens then? Sure, you might have tale to tell when you get home, or at least your friends will. DBAD, get the right insurance.
Have a balanced plan
You know us, we believe planning is an art form and something that should be balanced enough to deliver excitement, but avoid destitution or boredom. So the same applies here. When it comes to rallying (and other adventures) there are 2 types of people:
Over planners, nerds who love to know the details and who know what your fart will smell like before it comes out.
Under planners, gung-ho fraternity types that get into genuine trouble or are a burden on everyone they meet.
Proper planning means you can have the best of both worlds. Plan for safety (insurance, visas, money, basic skills, rough route, good company), but don’t try to choreograph your trip like some kind of Beyonce meets Mad Max music video in the dirt. Allow some sh*t to happen, my friends.
Take time to relax
Where possible, relax. This seems stupid, but take some time to grab a beer with other teams, set up camp early, sleep lying down, wash your crannies and just relax. The Rally is tough, don’t make it tougher by being a stick in the mud, unwind.
After all, this is where you can make some real lasting memories, friends and stories to tell. Have some fun, as often as you can.
Don’t forget why you’re doing it
Why are you doing this? For sure, it is not so you can be ‘in the zone’ for 8 weeks, furiously peering over your part-melted steering wheel, snapping at anyone that questions the how fast you’re going down this dodgy potholed road, 100miles from help. No, it’s to have fun. Don’t forget this! Embrace obstacles, change, challenges, beautiful and weird people and experiences. Be in the moment, be present at all times and try to remember all that you encounter.
Note: filming or photographing every single thing is the opposite of being present. I can guarantee you’ll not appreciate a single photo, and won’t remember a single thing you did. I don’t know about you, but a disposable camera works best- no edits, no idea what you’ve got, limited shots, perfect. Plus this avoids the constant anxiety over internet connection so that you can update Instagram.
Ride out the rough parts
I can promise you, at some point you will want to say “f*ck this, I’m out”, maybe even more than once, and maybe for the whole time. But I can also promise you one more thing. If you stick with it until the end, no matter how tired or sick you feel, you will always look back on the experience with a story tell and twinkle in your eye. Subjectively ‘bad experiences’ are the ones you remember most fondly. Trust me on that.
Note: If you are in genuine danger, are ill or have suffered a major set back, use your judgement and get tf outta there. Don’t give up just because you need a shave and you’ve got a stiff neck (boo hoo).
Don’t take more than you need
This loops back into the art of planning that we keep harping on about. Balance, balance, balance. It’s ok to take some calculated risks with equipment. You’re not going to the moon. Somethings can be bought on site, if you need them. Heres a step by step guide on how to prep kit for a rally:
Make a list of all the things you want to take
Organise these items into 4 sections Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, and Won’t have
‘Must haves’ are just that- if you don’t have these, the trip won’t happen. A car would be a must have, as would fuel and visas.
‘Should haves’ are things that if you didn’t take them, your trip would be considerably harder, or unbearable. A tent, jerry cans, water bottles would be should haves
‘Could Haves’ are things that would make the trip comfortable, but won’t impact massively the success rate. A full size pillow, your DSLR, a drone would be could haves
‘Won’t Haves’ are all things that don’t fit into the previous three. Won’t haves get rejected and don’t come on the trip. This can include people (just saying).
Using this method is a good way to toggle the ‘difficulty’ of your trip, by taking things from the Should haves pile to the Could haves.
Taking 2 cars for a team of 4 people is not a good idea. Double the expense, constant worry about separation, double the risk of breakdowns, isolation and so on. Stick to 1 car with 4 people max.
Note: This point includes people. Adding people reduces costs but adds complexity, emotion, wants and needs to an already stressful challenge. Not to mention it’s one more hot body in your car, and another persons gas to breathe in (yuck). Seriously consider who you take.