If you're looking for a way to challenge yourself in 2013, I've got a proposition to share.
I first heard about The Ultimate Train Challenge in 2011, when Michael Hodson, the founder and blogger behind Go, See, Write, and two other bloggers did it.
This year, he's opening up the challenge to anyone that's interested, regardless of whether you're a blogger.
The concept is simple: You have to make it from Saigon or Lisbon — or Lisbon to Saigon — in the month of May. All by train.
31 days of travel. You make your own schedule and choose your own route. You decide much you are going to push yourself and how many places you are going to try to hit.
Although it's about 15,000 miles (25,000 kilometers) to navigate, you'll still have enough time to stop and do things off the trains.
Barcelona, Paris, Venice, Berlin, Prague, Moscow, Beijing, Hanoi – these are just a few of the many great destinations to hit along the way.
What do you get for your entry fee?
In short, you can blog your trip on their website to keep family and friends up to date with your journey; they have a live-mapping feature on the site, so you can everyone can keep up with you in real-time.
Intrepid Travel is offering two 15-day tours to the first ones to cross the finish line in each direction; they are going to throw a fun pre-launch party in both locations.
Eurail is offering up at least four of their Global Passes that they will be raffling off and giving away as prizes
HostelWorld is offering two free nights’ stay in each city beforehand and… more.
In order to keep up with the latest developments on new sponsors, prizes and other news, you can sign up for their free newsletter.
As an extra bonus, they'll be doing a drawing from all newsletter subscribers in February, and will be giving away a new Samsung Galaxy SIII to one lucky subscriber.
If you register by February 15th, the entry fee is $295 US (approx. £183 / €223).
If you register from February 16th to April 30th, the entry fee is $395 US (approx. £245 / €298).
And because you are entering from this post on Go Backpacking, you'll get $30 off your entry fee. You just need to enter the code DL13UTC on the “Referral” line on the entry page to get the $30 discount.
They've also partnered with Blue Dragon's Children Foundation in Vietnam to raise needed funds to help out their cause.
Each participant is asked to raise $500, and Intrepid Travel has been generous enough to agree to match each donation dollar for dollar, up to a $10,000 total. So not only are you doing this whole adventure to challenge yourself, the entire group is going to do its small part to make the world a better place.
On the Your World, No Rules website, they explain everything you need to know about the event. They've also put together resource pages for you to help decide on a route, as well as work through getting visas.
This is the kind of adventure that has the potential to change your life, or at the least, make a great story for your kids or grandkids one day.
And don’t forget… on that sign up page you input DL13UTC in the “Referral” box to get $30 off your entry fee and tell them that you found the UTC13 from here. Thanks!