Travel journey for 30 location independent workers
Nomad Train is an incredible project that we created together with Daniel Heitz from Urban Challenger and Olga Isaeva from Lighthouse trips.
In its' essence, Nomad Train is a bucket list journey: crossing Transsiberian within 2 weeks from Moscow (Russia) to Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia), stopping in 4 cities and getting work done along the way. It seemed impossible until it was done! Here's how it actually looked like.
Did we get work done?
Train compartment invites to brainstorm, do some number crunching and focus on long-term vision.
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: Keeping up with work routines was not the goal of the trip. Most of us actually set a vacation responder and went into digital detox mode for the 2 weeks of the travel. Each one of us had 50 Gb of data of mobile internet to use any time, but the purpose of the trip was to focus on the experience, learn from each other, collaborate and enjoy the journey. During the train trip we got good connection on train stations every several hours. The trip was designed the way that we had a max of one business day on a train in one stretch, followed by 2-3 day stop in a city. In every city there was a coworking space where we could stay for as long as we needed, catch up with calls and emails. Most of the work done was strategic: use the train to disconnect in all senses and work on something more important than social media, emails and browsing. Train compartment for 4 people invites to brainstorm, do some number crunching and focus on long-term vision.
Coworking Spaces were a great base to have for a productive work session in the cities. Home office away from home. This one is Yeltsin Coworking in Ekaterinburg, the capital of Ural region of Russia.
Transsiberian is one of the special routes that's on everyone's to-do list. And so we thought that if we can come up with a way to make Transsiberian railway compatible with remote work, more people can explore it! That's exactly what happened. This trip was much more than exploring Russia, it's workations as a gateway to Asia. Nomad Train had 4 key stops on the way: Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk and the finish in Ulaanbaatar. That gave a brilliant overview of all Russia, from European to Siberian part, and plenty of time to bond, socialize and have fun within the group.
We didn't only watch landscapes from the window of the train, we also did some hardcore exploration, including a trip to Baikal Lake and a sleepover in a country house there. We did go out to see plenty of Russian nightlife and ate out enough to appreciate local food. Bottom line: we lived through the whole bunch of team experiences together, with 30 people. That made us a team from a bunch of strangers. An epic experience of wild Russia helped, because we didn't really have much expectations and were naturally curious about the whole thing. Nomad Train was like a summer camp for remote workers.
Travelling by train is really great. It's a great experience. If you want to make a big change in your life, then you should do it.
Nicolas, social entrepreneur (France)
Accommodation and food
On a trip like this it's important to have less surprises related to the basics. All team members had single rooms at all stops (doubles for couples and friends that preferred sharing). We had quite a variety of accommodation: from artsy in Yekaterinburg to 3-star hotel in Novosibirsk and a true soviet era heritage accommodation in Irkutsk. It was nice to have breakfast included as a surprise at a couple of locations. Food on train was also provided, and it was hot and freshly cooked in a restaurant car. We mostly had vegetarian meals: rice with vegetables, soups and salads, a good example of what Russian food is like. There's hot water boilers in every train car, which comes quite handy for coffee and tea any time of the day. During the city stay it was really relaxed and those who felt like it, had food together. Pretty much every dinner there was a meetup at a new pub or restaurant and it was pretty cool to see familiar faces and share stories!
Who is this trip for
It's The Thing to do for teams who want to run an annual strategic session in an unconventional environment.
In this specific case, the audience of the group was a mix of 13+ nationalities and we definitely didn't have a specific age limit. We all came from different companies: some of us were 100% remote or freelancers, others took vacations to join the trip. Overall, the group was fairly nomadic: many were continuing their journey from Mongolia to China, and then to Southeast Asia, but... it doesn't have to be this way.
In fact, we were planning the trip so that it's easy to do for anyone who can take 10-14 days to work remotely. It's great for startup teams who want to run a hackathone with power breaks in between. It's the thing to do for teams who are used to doing strategy sessions annually and want to do one in an unconventional environment; and it's definitely a great way to organize a team reunion if you're all remote.
I was very impressed, so it was a lot more modern and very clean than I expected it to be. People are really friendly, everyone wants to help even though they don't speak English from time to time. So I really positively impressed.
How much does it cost
The basic cost of the travel package, including train tickets, accommodation and food on the train came to about 990 EUR for plazkart tickets (open train wagon, assuming less privacy) and to about 1270 EUR for kupe tickets, where each group of 4 shared its' own compartment with 4 beds. This also included sim cards with internet data, coworking access and breakfasts at stopover cities. In addition to this, here's what you need to budget for: - Visa to Russia - 25 EUR for invitation letter - Russian visa fees - about 30 EUR if you're making the visa yourself without an agency, - Flight to Moscow - from 100 EUR assuming you're flying from an EU capital, - Flight/train from Mongolia - could be really tricky! - depends on where you need to go and how much in a rush you are - budget in 300-500 EUR. The easiest way is to get a train to Beijing (it's about another 24 h) and fly from there - Food in Russia - plan about 20-30 EUR per day if you're planning to eat out every day without bothering about cooking or buying food from supermarkets - Additional trips - a trip to Lake Baikal can cost up to 150 EUR for a multi-day experience, but it totally worth it! You need private transportation and accommodation there, and maybe a guide as well. Overall, it rounds up to extra 700-800 EUR per person for other expenses, but again, it's totally worth it. If you're looking at doing Transsiberian as a team experience, all of the extras can be included and pre-arranged for you, so that there's literally nothing to worry about.
Check out the highlights of the trip!
Starting the trip in Moscow with a kick-off session.
The fun park of the trip in Novosibirsk, some train yoga and Siberian summer landscapes.
Train conversations Digital detox Yoga on the train Lake Baikal trip Learning Russian basics International team Crossing the whole continent in 10 days Lunches in restaurant car
30 participants 13 days 5 cities 3 coworking spaces 5 days 6 nights of travel
Planning a team retreat?
Get in touch. We'll help you shape it in a piece of cake. With a cherry on top!