The Mongol Rally is an approximately 13,000-16,000km adventure that takes participants from the Gothic architecture of Western Europe, across the sparse landscapes of Russia and Central Asia, and finally to the remote capital of Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Participating teams choose their own route to Mongolia, and indeed the aim of the rally is not simply to make it to Ulan Bator, but to do so in a rather dilapidated, obsolete car that seems hardly sufficient to make it across one country on well-paved roads, let alone the sometimes 30-40 nations with their often rough, unsurfaced terrain, that must be traversed during the typically 4-week event.
For most people, the Mongol Rally would well and truly whet the appetite for adventure. Not so for Maximillian and Richard! Having completed the Rally as part of separate teams in 2015, the UK-based pair, together with their friend, Joel, began to nurture the concept of the Global Convoy. A mutation of the Mongol Rally, the Convoy, like the event from which it has drawn its inspiration, sees its participants travel across rough, yet beautiful landscapes in a worn out, scrapyard of a car that threatens to break down at the most inopportune of moments. The ultimate goal of Global Convoy participants is to circumnavigate the globe with minimal research, on an impractically small budget.
The Convoy enjoys a private, beach-side campsite in Montenegro (Photo by Convoy photographer, Andre Correia)
Crossing more than simply international borders, Rich, Max, Joel, and their team, by completing the greatest of journeys on the smallest of budgets, hope to also thwart some of the typical boundaries that hold young, would-be travellers back. Their aim is to highlight the accessibility of travel when potential restrictions are viewed through an opportunistic lens. It is for this reason that they seek to inspire creativity, critical thinking, resourcefulness, and a positive, team-driven attitude: the attributes that have enabled them to work so successfully within their limitations. In addition to spreading the gift of travel, the Global Convoy also takes every opportunity to give back to charity and get involved in local community projects.
This passion for travel both inspires and excites us here at the Scrubba wash bag, so we were thrilled when we had the opportunity to interrupt the Global Convoy’s whirlwind adventures for just long enough to chat about the team’s vision, inspiration, and plans for the future!
The Italian Alps (Photo by Convoy photographer, Andre Correia)
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and the Global Convoy.
Me and some friends had previously travelled overland in seriously cheap cars, without access to proper equipment, as part of the Mongol Rally – just for the adventure and to see what happened! It was the best trip of our lives, and once it was over we couldn't wait for our next chance to do something similar. We then thought up the idea of the Global Convoy – a round the world trip by any means necessary, with the cheapest cars we could find … minimal money, minimal planning, figuring out equipment as we went!
To help save money, we invited any other avid travellers to join us and chip in for gas. This means we’ve been able to travel with different groups as they have heard about our journey! We've had 10 different vehicles come and go throughout this trip, with 70+ different people joining us from across the globe for various stretches, from anything as short as a day, right up to half a year!
2. Where have you gone and what have you seen?
In the space of 6 months we've been across 3 continents and 37 countries in the same 2 terrible cars, and have seen some truly awe-inspiring sights! So far we’ve covered most of Europe, Russia, and a few of the 'Stans' in Central Asia. We’ve also hitchhiked Japan and South Korea, and have recently moved across to Canada to make our way down to Guatemala, our current location.
We've stopped off at any interesting sights we've come across along the way, visiting anywhere that’s been recommended by the people we've met!
We plan to cross another 2 continents and 30 or more countries on our route back to where we started, and can't wait to see what sights and experiences the remainder of the trip brings.
3. What do you think the value of travel is, and what inspires you when you travel?
We all share the same feeling that the world is becoming more and more fearful of 'the unknown'. It's easy to sit back, listen to the news, and think the world is slowly tearing itself apart and that your best bet is to never leave the house!
We want to prove that not only is travel fun and interesting, but that the act of experiencing other cultures helps you to appreciate humanity and other countries so much more. It's almost impossible to brand an entire group/culture as 'bad' or 'dangerous' once you've broken bread with them and seen that they are really just like you!
We LOVE travelling and just can't get enough, so it's important for us to let as many people as possible know that the world is an amazing place with incredible people!
4. Tell us about your charity work/community projects, or any projects that you're hoping to undertake.
We've just finished our work on a Belizean orphanage, and as with most of our projects, there wasn't much organising happening ahead of time. We simply start making arrangements to get involved when we come across a suitable project. We’re currently looking to help build a playground for a school in the Nicaraguan jungle while we wait for our cars to be shipped to Colombia - past the impenetrable Darién Gap!
We're super open to ideas, so if anyone knows of any charity/community projects in Central and South America or Western Africa, please message our Facebook group!
5. What has been the hardest part of your trip or the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Our biggest challenge by far was a road in Kazakhstan that we've dubbed 'Fury Road'! Google maps estimated 14 hours to cover the stretch of road to reach the Uzbekistan border... It took us 3 days! We had to seek refuge in an oil refinery at one point because there was literally nothing around! We were fortunate, as the crew who lived and worked there seemed to like our journey and offered to patch up some damage the cars had taken for free. It was a really lucky break for us!
6. We gave you a Scrubba wash bag to test throughout your journey. How did it hold up and what are your lasting impressions of it?
First and foremost, it has saved us a ton of money, as we haven't had to fork out for laundry over the 6 months we've been on the road! As we're trying to look towards the long term, it's also awesome to know we use no electricity and much less water when washing our clothes! You can check out a video we made documenting our use of the Scrubba in Uzbekistan, here.
7. What are your travel goals for the future?
Our immediate goal is to make it back to London having completed our loop of the world! After that, we're hoping the public support and connections we've made will allow us to turn our travel documenting into a full time job so that we can see more amazing places in crazy manners! If you're interested to see our plans or support us, check out our Patreon.
8. Do you have any awesome travel tips that will help people to explore the world?
I guess the main thing we've learnt is that the best travel experiences are found when you end up off the beaten path. It's just amazing to see how generous people can be when you're the first tourist they've seen in a long time - or even the first ever! You get a much more authentic taste of the place you're staying and a more genuine interaction with the local people!
9. Do you have any advice for others hoping to embark on these kind of challenging trips in the future?
Without trying to simplify, we think that just heading out there and throwing yourself into unusual places is one of the best ways to see the world! Learning by doing is one of the most underrated ways to travel, although you should always have a backup plan or some way to get to somewhere safe and secure in case anything unfortunate happens.
Scrubba action on the active Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala (Photo by Convoy photographer, Andre Correia)
10. Where can people go to follow your future journeys and learn about your past ones?
We're mostly active on Facebook and document our currents adventures at: https://www.facebook.com/globalconvoy/. Older, Rally-related videos are covered by Youtube.com/c/ConquerEarthTravel. We hope you enjoy them!
A huge thanks to Max, Rich, and Joel for taking the time to share their unique travelling experiences, and to Andre for passing along some beautiful photos! Remember to head over to the Global Convoy’s Facebook page to keep up to date with their once-in-a-lifetime journey. Who knows? You may even find a little inspiration yourself!