The mission began after my graduation in June 2018. I flew home to arrange all my visas and took off in August. I traveled 15,000+ km across 29 countries from Thailand to Morocco WITHOUT FLYING in 115 days. I took trains, buses, ferries, hitchhikes, etc. Pretty much any means of transportation that can get me closer to my final destination without taking a flight.
About my preparation, let’s break it down into 3 big parts:
According to passportindex.com, Thai passport has only 81 visa-free scores. It’s not one of the strongest but that never holds me back from traveling. Looking at the route in Asia, my passport covered all except China. In Europe, the Schengen visa easily covered 26 Schengen-zone countries plus roughly other 18 non-Schengen countries. Lastly, I only aimed to visit Morocco in Africa and I did need a visa for that. All in all, it only took me a month to acquire all 3 visas in hand.
The route above was generated with Rome2rio. The software provided all the possible transportation to get from one place to another and the choices vary from planes, trains, buses, boats, to self-driving. Now, it’s a fun game of connecting the dots. Honestly speaking, I had no idea if the route would 100% work as planned but decided to bite the bullet and took off with it.
To give a quick overview of my journey, it started from a train in Bangkok to Laos, a bus to Vietnam, a train to Beijing, China to start off the Trans-Mongolian railways passing through Mongolia and finishing in Irkutsk, Russia. Then I spent 4 nights on the Trans-Siberian train straight to Moscow, crossed to Estonia, and took a bunch of buses around the Baltic states. More trains with my Eurail pass around Eastern Europe, down to the Balkans with more buses, then crossed from Greece to Italy by a ferry and made my way through western Europe, down to Spain. Finally, I took a ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar and arrived in Morocco. After that, it was a week-long adventure in the Sahara and 2 weeks of volunteering in the Berber village on the High Atlas.
My daily budget went into 4 parts: transportation, accommodation, food, and other miscellaneous like laundry or tourist attraction fees. Other major one-time costs included visas, travel insurance, and a flight back home at the end of my expedition.
On average, I spent around 50 USD/day. I had a specific daily budget in different countries from my research, ranging from 20-50 USD a day, and that also determined how long I should stay. I wouldn’t stay long in an expensive country like Germany but rather spent more time in more affordable regions like Eastern Europe or The Balkans.
Of course, not everything went smooth as planned and I really enjoyed that. Apart from all the fun stuff, the big part of my trip was problem-solving and navigating myself through unfamiliar places. I only scheduled my trip up to Moscow and after that, it’s all week-to-week planning, depending on how I felt like or if I found anywhere on the map to be interesting and reachable.
Overland travel can be redundant some times, especially when I had to go through 20+ European countries in a row. So, I try to have a small mission in each country such as staying with a Mongolian nomad family for a week, sleeping in a military prison in Latvia, visiting the smallest town in the world (with a population of 28 people) in Croatia, and many more.