The Long Way Home – trip statistics

Hitchhiking to Zanjan header

The Long Way Home was the trip of our lifetime during which we ventured further and stayed on the road for longer than ever before. We visited cultures dramatically different from our own and the main goal of the trip was to create a chain of learning, teaching and gift giving, which we had called the Cultural Relay. The aim was to learn from people along the way, teach others some interesting traditions which we got to know and swap symbolic gifts. Of course, we realise the Project hasn’t changed the world, but we also know that for a short period of time we showed people a different world and exposed them to a distinct culture, which they might never be able to visit for economic or political reasons. And if we managed to give them joy and open their minds and hearts to other cultures, or inspire their curiosity, we have reasons to be proud and happy.

Ania, Babur and his mum after making crema Catalana, Urgench,Uzbekistan

Teaching how to make Crema Catalana and learning Tuhum Barak in Uzbekistan

The Long Way Home – trip statistics

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Time

We started the trip on the 27th January 2015 and finished on the 22nd December 2015, which means we were on the road for 329 days!

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Distance

Travelled distanceWe travelled by land from Ankara (Turkey) to Katowice (Poland) via Iran, Central Asia, China, Mongolia, Russia and the Baltic States, which is in total 37,228 km.

We travelled mostly by hitchhiking (32,962 km) but we also used other forms of transport (4,266 km) such as Trans-Siberian Railway, boats or buses.

Here are the countries we visited and the hitchhiking distance we covered in each of them:

  • Turkey – 1,602 km
  • Iran – 3,420 km
  • Turkmenistan – 4 km
  • Uzbekistan – 1,582 km
  • Tajikistan – 1,833 km
  • Kyrgyzstan – 1,733 km
  • Kazakhstan – 3,014 km
  • China – 13,348 km
  • Mongolia – 1,008 km
  • Russia – 3,538 km
  • Estonia – 478 km
  • Latvia – 264 km
  • Lithuania – 466 km
  • Poland – 672 km

Murghab, Tajikistan (64)

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Hitchhiking

We hitched the distance of nearly 33K km but how many drivers helped us on the way? Here are the stats by country:

  • Turkey – 25 drivers (on average 64 km per driver)
  • Iran – 34 drivers (on average 101 km per driver)
  • Turkmenistan – 1
  • Uzbekistan – 25 drivers (on average 63 km per driver)
  • Tajikistan – 32 drivers (on average 57 km per driver)
  • Kyrgyzstan – 33 drivers (on average 52 km per driver)
  • Kazakhstan – 25 drivers (on average 131 km per driver)
  • China – 145 drivers (on average 92 km per driver)
  • Mongolia – 10 drivers (on average 101 km per driver)
  • Russia – 38 drivers (on average 93 km per driver)
  • Estonia – 7 drivers (on average 68 km per driver)
  • Latvia – 6 drivers (on average 44 km per driver)
  • Lithuania – 7 drivers (on average 78 km per driver)
  • Poland – 15 drivers (on average 45 km per driver)

So in total we met 403 drivers who were so kind and helped on the way! On average one driver took us for 93 km!

We had the longest rides in Kazakhstan and the shortest in Latvia. It’s not surprising given the size of the countries.

Hitchhiking with a friendly family on the way to Yazd

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Accommodation

One of the greatest joys of travelling for us is meeting local people and learning about their culture. Therefore, we always try to stay with locals as much as possible, using CouchSurfing or with random people who are willing to invite us into their homes.

Accommodation pie 2During our Long Way Home trip we Couchsurfed for 225 days, which is 69% of all our accommodation!

When we travelled to places where there were no CS hosts (due to the lack of internet, for example) and the weather was too cold or rainy to camp, we had to pay for accommodation. We used hostels or cheap Chinese binguans (motels) for 52 days, which is 16% of the times.

On top of that we stayed with random people we meet in the street for 10 days, camped wild for 13 days and stayed with friends for 24 days. It’s great to have friends all around the world, isn’t it? :) As ‘other’ we classified spending the night on a mode of transport (e.g. when we hitched a sleeper bus in China or a Trans-Siberian Train in Russia) or when free accommodation was offered to us in return for a mention on the blog.

The best countries for CouchSurfing turned out to be Iran, Turkey, Russia, Poland and the Baltic States.

We camped the most in China (because we had to) and in Kyrgyzstan (because it was too beautiful to stay indoors).

Wild camping in China

Wild camping in China

Hospitality

Asian countries are famous for their hospitality! Especially while hitchhiking you expose yourself to other people’s kindness and this time we were overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted to help us, gave us food and drink, and invited us to their house for the night.

It turns out that the highest number of invitations to somebody’s house (by random people, not including CS) we received in Tajikistan. As many as 16% of our drivers invited us for the night!

Many times we were also given snacks, water or packs of cigarettes by our drivers. That happened to us the most in Turkey, where one fifth of drivers gave us something, and in China – 15%.

Finally, Kazakhstan turned out to be the country where you are most likely to be invited for lunch. We were properly fed by every fourth driver!!

Visiting a dacha near Almaty, Kazakhstan

Being invited to a dacha near Almaty, Kazakhstan

Costs

Travelling on a budget is not difficult. Our trip is the best proof of that. You can reduce costs by hitchhiking, Couchsurfing/wild camping and eating street food, which in Asia is cheap, natural and delicious!

However, we are budget but not ultra-cheap travellers. We do drink beer and coffee a lot and splurge on souvenirs for our friends and family. We also never deny ourselves tickets to sights or museums (and be aware that in China you’d usually pay $40 per sight), as what else is money for if not for travelling? And of course, if you travel for that long there are certain unavoidable costs – you lose things, some equipment breaks and has to be replaced etc…

In total we spent on our trip 4420€ each, which is 13€/day.

This amount includes the very pricey visa costs. We spent on our visas 678€, which is 15% of our budget!

Tabriz Grand Bazaar (4)

Tabriz Grand Bazaar, Iran

Touristy stuff

People often ask us how we decide on the itinerary, what the key factor is. Since we both love culture, history and architecture, in each country we visit, we try to discover UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which form our basic itinerary. Of course, it often happens with hitchhiking that you visit places not recommended in guidebooks too, but the basic route is always determined by the most impressive and significant exploits of human civilisation.

During our Long Way Home trip we visited 43 UNESCO sites.

On our trip we visited 14 countries and stayed in 128 cities and villages (and visited loads more).

Khiva from above, Uzbekistan

Khiva, Uzbekistan

written by: Ania


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