Vodkatrain have more than 50 years’ experience of crafting small group tours and independent journeys on the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian Railway, specialising in overland adventures for 18- to 35-year-olds. Despite what the name might suggest, this is far more than just a booze cruise; on a Vodkatrain tour you can expect to be fully immersed in the fascinating local cultures of Russia, Mongolia and China, and you’ll return home with memories that you’ll treasure for the rest of your life.
Although travelling overland across Asia remains a pretty niche choice for a holiday, there are an increasing number of companies clamouring for your custom. So why would you choose Vodkatrain over the competition?
Central to the Vodkatrain concept is the epic rail journey across Russia, a country that spans an entire continent. Travelling from the Baltic to the heart of Asia offers incredible variety, from marvelling at the magnificent art of St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum to relaxing in a Siberian guesthouse on the shores of Lake Baikal. Throw Mongolia into the mix and you have even more to excite the senses: the stark beauty of the Gobi Desert, the spine-tingling sound of traditional throat singing, and the chance to stay with a local nomadic family in their ger. What’s more, the journey is every bit as important as the destination; one of the great joys of the Trans-Siberian Railway is the time spent on the train itself, chatting with the locals in the dining car and learning how to drink vodka the Russian way!
The Vodkatrain way of travelling offers the perfect balance of organised tour and independent travel. Your holiday price includes your train tickets, accommodation and the support of your helpful Honcho (see below), but you’re not obliged to spend all your time taking part in group activities or eating meals together, so you have plenty of free time to explore at your own pace. Part of the appeal of travelling in this part of the world is the opportunity to get off the beaten track, without being constrained by rigid schedules.
Vodkatrain’s journeys have been designed specifically for the 18 to 35 market, and work equally well as either a standalone holiday or part of a longer trip. You’ll be travelling in a small group, limited to a maximum of 12 people, and it’s a fantastic way to meet like-minded adventurers and make new friends. Vodkatrain don’t charge a supplement if you’re travelling by yourself, so this is a great option for solo travellers; sometimes you’ll share accommodation with fellow Vodkatrainers, while other times you’ll have your own room at no extra cost. There are also itineraries for more budget-conscious travellers that keep costs to a minimum; instead of a four-berth cabin on the Trans-Siberian you can travel in a multi-share compartment more akin to a hostel dorm, a true experience that’s guaranteed to foster a real sense of camaraderie!
Throughout your journey you’ll be accompanied by a helpful ‘Honcho’, who will assist with logistics and ensure you get the most out of your trip. These friendly and fun-loving locals are all under 35, speak great English and love meeting travellers from around the world. Their insider knowledge is invaluable when it comes to finding the coolest bars and local eateries, and they will also help you to surmount the language barrier in far-flung corners of Russia and Mongolia. Your Honcho is on hand throughout your trip whenever you need them, and will often be amongst the last ones at the bar; but equally you are not tied to spending all your time with them, and you’re always free to do your own thing if you prefer.
As well as their off-the-shelf group tours, Vodkatrain also offer the opportunity to create your own tour, visiting destinations such as Russia, Mongolia, China, Iran, the Caucasus and the ‘Stans of Central Asia. You can customise one of their existing itineraries, or you can create something completely bespoke, whether you want to hike across Kazakhstan or add Japan onto your Trans-Siberian adventure. There is also no age limit when you Make Your Own Adventure, and it’s a great option for teams, clubs or groups of friends who want to create their own personalised tour.