The Scrubba Blog

Q&A With the Global Convoy

by Sam Stephens |

The Mongol Rally is an approximately 13,000-16,000km adventure that takes participants from the Gothic architecture of Western Europe, across the sparse landscapes of Russia and Central Asia, and finally to the remote capital of Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Participating teams choose their own route to Mongolia, and indeed the aim of the rally is not simply to make it to Ulan Bator, but to do so in a rather dilapidated, obsolete car that seems hardly sufficient to make it across one country on well-paved roads, let alone the sometimes 30-40 nations with their often rough, unsurfaced terrain, that must be traversed during the typically 4-week event.

For most people, the Mongol Rally would well and truly whet the appetite for adventure. Not so for Maximillian and Richard! Having completed the Rally as part of separate teams in 2015, the UK-based pair, together with their friend, Joel, began to nurture the concept of the Global Convoy. A mutation of the Mongol rally, the Convoy, like the event from which it has drawn its inspiration, sees its participants travel across rough, yet beautiful landscapes in a worn out, scrapyard of a car that threatens to break down at the most inopportune of moments. The ultimate goal of Global Convoy participants is to circumnavigate the globe with minimal research, on an impractically small budget.

 


The Convoy enjoys a private, beach-side campsite in Montenegro (Photo by Convoy photographer, Andre Correia)

 

Crossing more than simply international borders, Rich, Max, Joel, and their team, by completing the greatest of journeys on the smallest of budgets, hope to also thwart some of the typical boundaries that hold young, would-be travellers back. Their aim is to highlight the accessibility of travel when potential restrictions are viewed through an opportunistic lens. It is for this reason that they seek to inspire creativity, critical thinking, resourcefulness, and a positive, team-driven attitude: the attributes that have enabled them to work so successfully within their limitations. In addition to spreading the gift of travel, the Global Convoy also takes every opportunity to give back to charity and get involved in local community projects.

This passion for travel both inspires and excites us here at the Scrubba wash bag, so we were thrilled when we had the opportunity to interrupt the Global Convoy’s whirlwind adventures for just long enough to chat about the team’s vision, inspiration, and plans for the future! 

 


The Italian Alps (Photo by Convoy photographer, Andre Correia)

 

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and the Global Convoy.
Me and some friends had previously travelled overland in seriously cheap cars, without access to proper equipment, as part of the Mongol Rally – just for the adventure and to see what happened! It was the best trip of our lives, and once it was over we couldn't wait for our next chance to do something similar. We then thought up the idea of the Global Convoy – a round the world trip by any means necessary, with the cheapest cars we could find … minimal money, minimal planning, figuring out equipment as we went!

To help save money, we invited any other avid travellers to join us and chip in for gas. This means we’ve been able to travel with different groups as they have heard about our journey! We've had 10 different vehicles come and go throughout this trip, with 70+ different people joining us from across the globe for various stretches, from anything as short as a day, right up to half a year!

 

2. Where have you gone and what have you seen?
In the space of 6 months we've been across 3 continents and 37 countries in the same 2 terrible cars, and have seen some truly awe-inspiring sights! So far we’ve covered most of Europe, Russia, and a few of the 'Stans' in Central Asia. We’ve also hitchhiked Japan and South Korea, and have recently moved across to Canada to make our way down to Guatemala, our current location.

We've stopped off at any interesting sights we've come across along the way, visiting anywhere that’s been recommended by the people we've met!
We plan to cross another 2 continents and 30 or more countries on our route back to where we started, and can't wait to see what sights and experiences the remainder of the trip brings.

 
Tulum, Mexico (Photo by Convoy photographer, Andre Correia)

 

3. What do you think the value of travel is, and what inspires you when you travel?
We all share the same feeling that the world is becoming more and more fearful of 'the unknown'. It's easy to sit back, listen to the news, and think the world is slowly tearing itself apart and that your best bet is to never leave the house!
We want to prove that not only is travel fun and interesting, but that the act of experiencing other cultures helps you to appreciate humanity and other countries so much more. It's almost impossible to brand an entire group/culture as 'bad' or 'dangerous' once you've broken bread with them and seen that they are really just like you!

We LOVE travelling and just can't get enough, so it's important for us to let as many people as possible know that the world is an amazing place with incredible people!

 

4. Tell us about your charity work/community projects, or any projects that you're hoping to undertake.
We've just finished our work on a Belizean orphanage, and as with most of our projects, there wasn't much organising happening ahead of time. We simply start making arrangements to get involved when we come across a suitable project. We’re currently looking to help build a playground for a school in the Nicaraguan jungle while we wait for our cars to be shipped to Colombia - past the impenetrable Darién Gap!
We're super open to ideas, so if anyone knows of any charity/community projects in Central and South America or Western Africa, please message our Facebook group!



The night sky in Georgeville, Belize, while volunteering to build an orphanage (Photo by Convoy photographer, Andre Correia)

 

5. What has been the hardest part of your trip or the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Our biggest challenge by far was a road in Kazakhstan that we've dubbed 'Fury Road'! Google maps estimated 14 hours to cover the stretch of road to reach the Uzbekistan border... It took us 3 days! We had to seek refuge in an oil refinery at one point because there was literally nothing around! We were fortunate, as the crew who lived and worked there seemed to like our journey and offered to patch up some damage the cars had taken for free. It was a really lucky break for us!


Kazakhstan, on the way to Uzbekistan via 'Fury Road' (Photo by Convoy photographer, Andre Correia)

 

6. We gave you a Scrubba wash bag to test throughout your journey. How did it hold up and what are your lasting impressions of it?
First and foremost, it has saved us a ton of money, as we haven't had to fork out for laundry over the 6 months we've been on the road! As we're trying to look towards the long term, it's also awesome to know we use no electricity and much less water when washing our clothes! You can check out a video we made documenting our use of the Scrubba in Uzbekistan, here.



The Scrubba wash bag gets a thermal bath near El Estor, Guatemala (Photo by Convoy photographer, Andre Correia)

 

7. What are your travel goals for the future?
Our immediate goal is to make it back to London having completed our loop of the world! After that, we're hoping the public support and connections we've made will allow us to turn our travel documenting into a full time job so that we can see more amazing places in crazy manners! If you're interested to see our plans or support us, check out our Patreon.

 

8. Do you have any awesome travel tips that will help people to explore the world?
I guess the main thing we've learnt is that the best travel experiences are found when you end up off the beaten path. It's just amazing to see how generous people can be when you're the first tourist they've seen in a long time - or even the first ever! You get a much more authentic taste of the place you're staying and a more genuine interaction with the local people!

 


Having arrived at the Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan border after closing time, the team shelters in a Yurt usually reserved for the border guards (Photo by Convoy photographer, Andre Correia)

 

9. Do you have any advice for others hoping to embark on these kind of challenging trips in the future?
Without trying to simplify, we think that just heading out there and throwing yourself into unusual places is one of the best ways to see the world! Learning by doing is one of the most underrated ways to travel, although you should always have a backup plan or some way to get to somewhere safe and secure in case anything unfortunate happens.

 


Scrubba action on the active Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala (Photo by Convoy photographer, Andre Correia)

 

10. Where can people go to follow your future journeys and learn about your past ones?
We're mostly active on Facebook and document our currents adventures at: https://www.facebook.com/globalconvoy/. Older, Rally-related videos are covered by Youtube.com/c/ConquerEarthTravel. We hope you enjoy them!

 

A huge thanks to Max, Rich, and Joel for taking the time to share their unique travelling experiences, and to Andre for passing along some beautiful photos! Remember to head over to the Global Convoy’s Facebook page to keep up to date with their once-in-a-lifetime journey. Who knows? You may even find a little inspiration yourself!

Tags: Around the World, backpacking, pack light, packing, Q&A, Scrubba wash bag, The Global Convoy, The Mongol Rally, travel, Travel Interview, travel laundry, wash bag, washing on the go

5 Reasons to Start (or Keep) Travelling

by Sam Stephens |

People travel for vastly different reasons including work, leisure, and education, but despite the different locations and purposes behind these journeys, most will agree that travel is singularly unique and beneficial. Indeed, many who have sampled a small piece of the world map will admit to becoming afflicted with a sort of insatiable wanderlust that somehow manages to perpetually overcome financial and other barriers. Why is this? What is it about travel that crosses age and cultural divides and links us through the shared identity of ‘the traveller?’ Why is it that so many people are scrambling to organise their next trip despite, at times, encountering hefty travel expenses or difficulties navigating through remote or even dangerous regions that are exacerbated by challenging terrains and climates?

The reasons for travel are unique and often reflect the personalities and aspirations of individuals, making it difficult to generalise to the travelling population as a whole. Nevertheless, we here at the Scrubba have pooled our travelling experience to compile a top 5 list that we’ve all managed to agree on, so we thought it only fitting to share it with you here! If you’ve ever wondered what's so great about travel, or have struggled to explain your love of globetrotting to friends or family who are content to stay at home, we recommend you memorise the following list! Who knows, it might even give you or your non-travelling friends the infamous ‘travel fever’.

Expand your horizons:

Who doesn’t love to change things up a bit by adding new notches of experience to the belt of life? Visiting places that look a little different, that are governed by different laws and filled with unfamiliar people who have different cultural traditions, practice different beliefs, wear unfamiliar clothes, eat new foods, and look after plants and animals you’ve never before heard of, is a great way to expand your horizons and perhaps evaluate your own life from new, enlightening perspectives. Learn a little about humanity and the threads that connect us, whilst simultaneously gaining some knowledge about yourself through association with that which is vastly different. There’s nothing quite like it.

 Meet people and make new friends:

One of the greatest benefits of travel is meeting people from all over the globe and connecting with them through the unique experience of travel. Travel fosters friendship precisely because there’s no better bonding experience than attempting to conquer a foreign landscape whilst drinking in new, awe-inspiring sites, especially if you’re travelling solo and are just jumping at any opportunity to speak to strangers in order to fulfil your daily ‘human contact’ quota. Global friends will expand your horizons, will almost certainly teach you something new about both yourself and the world, and will ultimately provide the invaluable comfort of a familiar face and possibly even a cosy home in an alien environment. It’s the sort of unique connection that everyone should experience, and it’s just one of the reasons why we’ll never stop travelling.

Learn something new:

Not only a new language, but a little geography, a touch of history, a sprinkle of politics, a dash of architecture, and just a drizzle of global culture and international relations. Oh, and did we mention the art of cooking and testing out new culinary styles? In short, travel teaches you an abundance of things, from previously unknown facts to more abstract qualities within yourself. Once obtained, these qualities can be further practised and developed anywhere in the world, giving you the practical skills to conquer any imaginable scenario. We keep travelling precisely because the knowledge to be gained from it is infinite, and even if you’re convinced you have no interest in gaining any more knowledge, it pays to remember that travel is a great way to discover a passion or hobby you never knew you had. After all, it only takes one unique animal or building or culinary dish to redirect your approach to a certain topic, enabling you to find beauty where you couldn't before.

 Meet new flora and fauna:

No single country can boast all the world’s diverse landscapes and ecosystems, so we have to go looking for them! Lush rainforests, dense woodland, rolling deserts, sweeping tundras, vast icefields, infinite mountain ranges, raging oceans, colourful reefs, plunging cliffs, and docile lakes, all teeming with the unique vibrancy of life, make up just a handful of the earth’s beautiful, constantly changing surface. Travellers don’t just want to visit these regions – they have a burning desire to explore and experience them. After all, there’s nothing quite like seeing the sparkling ocean, the glistening snow, or the twisted peaks of rocky mountains for the first time. The traveller’s passion is to constantly recapture this sensation by visiting new and totally unfamiliar places that promise not only to change their perspective of the world, but to add even more fuel to an ever-increasing desire to scour every inch of it without delay.

Try new experiences and challenge yourself:

Why not hike up a mountain, swim with dolphins or sharks, skydive, bungee jump, take a cooking or language class, dog-sled, or rent an apartment and try living abroad for a few months? Travel not only gives you the opportunity to try things you might not be able to try at home, but also gives you the drive and confidence to experience them. From conquering a fear to checking something off your bucket list, travel can take you from one corner of the globe to the other, creating unforgettable memories in the process. It also provides a little time to disengage from this fast-paced, media-driven world, enabling you to spend some quality time reconnecting with the earth and, most importantly, with yourself and the relationships that add a little colour to your life.

And there you have it, the reasons behind the traveller’s rapidly dwindling funds, ridiculously large collection of novelty souvenirs, and rather haggard, jet-lagged countenance. We know it’s not always easy, but in exchange for new friends, new knowledge, new experiences, and unforgettable memories, it’s totally worth it!

Tags: Around the World, backpacking, globetrotting, Scrubba wash bag, top tips, travel, travel resolutions, travel tips

Beat the Cold without the Bulk: 5 Top Tips for Lightweight Winter Travel

by Sam Stephens |

Winter is one of my absolute favourite times to travel. It’s crisp, clean, comes with a whole range of adventurous sports and activities for thrill-seekers, is less crowded than its warmer counterparts, and is capable of transforming entire landscapes into shimmering fields that burst blindingly into full colour every time the sun’s rays ricochet off the fresh snow and fracture into a thousand glistening, rainbow shards. 

The Alps near Grenoble, France

 

Yes, when it comes to beautiful, unique scenery at its least crowded, winter leaps enthusiastically to mind. However, with the beauty of winter comes the spectacularly frustrating ordeal of packing warm woollens sufficient for outdoor winter sports and activities, without compromising your usual ‘carry on only’ policy. I’ve been asked many questions about my winter packing list – often in tones of incredulity and disbelief – from people who have convinced themselves that lightweight winter travel is impossible and that their only option is to avoid winter holidays altogether. However, I’ve had plenty of experience travelling from the Alps to the Arctic, undertaking a whole host of winter activities from dog-sledding, skiing, and snow-shoeing, to snowmobiling, ice caving, and winter hiking, so I’m well placed to assure you that once the difficulty of minimalist packing itself has been overcome, it’s exceptionally easy to have a sufficient, albeit small and light winter pack that is fit to see you through even the wildest weather. Here are my top tips for enjoying the thrill of winter without breaking your back:

  Botanical Garden, Copenhagen, Denmark

 

Limit your options:

The first step is to buy a lightweight, comfortable pack and to stick to your plan to take it along on your travels. Forcing yourself to fit all your gear inside your chosen pack will greatly limit your options, ensuring that you take only the necessities by prioritising multi-functional fundamentals over that extra jumper that nicely matches your boots, but doesn’t contribute much else. A small, comfortable pack will also prove to be the best option when it comes to slightly harsher conditions. After all, it’s a great feeling to be able to confidently strap on your gear and breeze past everyone attempting to haul their suitcases through shin-deep snow.

 

Review your toiletries:

Toiletries are some of the easiest things to over-pack despite the fact that, in most areas, they’re readily accessible and relatively inexpensive. Limit yourself to the necessities and remember that winter trips don’t require any special toiletries. I would, however, advise you to pack a small bottle of high quality moisturiser and lip balm, as the lack of humidity in cold air tends to rapidly leech moisture from the skin. Also be sure to take sunscreen to prevent snow sunburn. Snow is highly reflective of UV radiation, so applying sunscreen, covering exposed skin, and wearing sunglasses is recommended to prevent yourself from unwittingly shivering through the coldest of days only to end up with the hottest of burns.   

 

Layer up to cut down:

You’ve probably heard this before, but that’s only because it’s a good piece of advice. Layering your clothes allows for better insulation and gives you more flexibility, enabling you not only to move comfortably between warmer and cooler, or indoor and outdoor, environments, but to also obtain variety by shuffling your layers rather than attempting to pack three or four different outfits. Base layers are an absolute necessity for staying warm when the big chill hits, and if you’re astute you’ll find they go a long way to keeping your pack size at a minimum. I strongly recommend opting for merino wool or silk base layers, as these materials are highly lightweight, wick moisture, dry quickly, and remain largely odour-free, enabling them to be worn for a few days between washes. Upper layers that are exposed neither to skin nor to harsh weather will likely require even fewer washes, especially if woven from materials like wool, which naturally repel dirt and other irritants. I usually pack a couple of base layers so I can wear one whilst washing and drying the other, in addition to a couple of extra lightweight middle layers that enable me to switch out any items needing to be washed. Be sure to pack your Scrubba wash bag to simplify your laundry days and, if possible, bring only one outer shell and one pair of winter boots. You’ll wear these whenever you’re in transit to minimise the size of your pack.  

 

Invest in a neck gaiter:

Versatility is the key to packing light and it’s difficult to get more versatile than a neck gaiter. These are small, lightweight, and come in a variety of materials and patterns to suit all styles. Best of all, they can be folded in almost innumerable ways to provide varying levels of protection for both hot and cold weather. Wear them as scarves, beanies, or balaclavas to beat the cold, and as sun hats, bandanas, or sweat bands for head and wrist, to keep cool in the heat. Otherwise, use them as an eye mask for sleeping in bright conditions, as a hair tie or headband to pull back your locks in windy conditions, or simply as a colourful accessory to spruce up your outfit. By switching out your usual heavy bundle of items for one adaptable, highly convenient product that will see you through all possible conditions, you'll immediately shed some kilos off your pack.

 

Fill all empty space:

If you’re unable to wear your heavier gear while in transit, be sure to compensate for the added bulk by utilising the pockets of space these items often create in your pack. For instance, fill your boots and your coat hood/pockets with small items like socks, gloves, and underwear. This not only helps to effectively utilise space inside your bag, but also organises your smaller, easier to lose items, keeping you from having to endure the mind-numbing frustration of ending up with an odd sock in the middle of your travels. Additionally, if carrying a rucksack or backpack, don't be afraid to utilise the bag's exterior, especially if it comes equipped with straps that support the attachment of your gear via cable ties. A light, waterproof shell and snow gloves are just two options that can be easily attached to the outside of your pack without risk of perishing in extreme winter conditions. 

 Korouoma Canyon, Rovaniemi, Finland

 

When it comes to winter travel, quality far outranks quantity, and a few decent items should see you through most of the weather you’ll encounter on ordinary winter holidays. It may seem impossible at first, but persevere and you’ll soon be travelling unburdened in winter, no longer forced to make that horrible decision between lightweight but oppressively crowded and expensive holidays, and cheaper, more accessible travel that’s restricted by the size of your bag. Instead, have it all! Beat the crowds, the exertion, and the unnecessary costs by layering up to cut down, and ensure that your next winter trip is a clean, light and free one.

Tags: holidays, luggage, packing, Scrubba, top tips, travel, winter

The Top Eco-Friendly Gadgets for a Greener Getaway

by Sam Stephens |

If you fancy a greener holiday in 2017, you're not alone! After all, as more of us start to gain a deeper appreciation for the importance of environmental conservation, more of us are also recognising the various difficulties of upholding this commitment to the environment when it comes to travel, and are searching for cleaner, greener options as a result. If you've run into difficulties in your search, don't worry, because we're here to help! In fact, as we at the Scrubba know a thing or two about green products, we've taken it upon ourselves to compile a list of our favourite practical and effortlessly green travel accessories, guaranteed to help make your next holiday your greenest one yet! Our 2016 eco-friendly gift guide is full of affordable products that will help prevent you from ever again compromising your environmental values, so check it out and start planting the seeds to greener travel today. 

 

The Scrubba Weightless wallet: 

Weighing only 7g (0.25oz), this ultra-light, slim, and tear- and water-resistant wallet is the perfect companion for travel and active lifestyles. Fully upcycled from excess Scrubba wash bag material, it allows both people and the planet to reap the positive effects of exercise and activity.

RRP: 14.95USD

See more and buy now

Eco Vessel:

A light, durable and eco-friendly solution for all those travellers who just can’t go without their morning coffee or evening herbal tea, these BPA free vessels promise to keep liquids hot for 8 hours and cool for 36 thanks to their Trimax Triple Insulation.

RRP: Varies by product, typically 15.00-60.00USD

                                                     See more and buy now

LifeStraw:

From filtration straws to filtration bottles, LifeStraw promises to put the health and vitality into your trip. Its award-winning 2-stage filtration technology removes bacteria and protozoa from water while reducing organic chemical matter and chlorine, helping you to access safe water all while supporting the environment by cutting down on plastic bottles. 

RRP: 39.95-89.95USD

See more and buy now

 

The Solio Bolt Charger: 

Weighing only 5.3oz (~150g) this battery pack and solar charger is the perfect green camping companion for the tech-obsessed. Powered by the sun, the device holds its charge for up to a year, charges at the same rate as a typical wall charger, and even comes equipped with rotating solar panels and sundial capabilities that allow for maximum sun exposure.  

RRP: 70.00USD

                                             See more and buy now

Rareform Bags: 

These durable, waterproof, lightweight and stylish bags come in all shapes and sizes, encompassing backpacks, duffle bags, bike bags, tech sleeves, and even phone cases. All products have been repurposed from vinyl billboards, meaning that each bag, aside from supporting the environment through the reduction of waste, is also highly unique, with no two models sporting the same design.  

RRP: Varies by product

See more and buy now

These gifts are clean, practical, and guaranteed to make everyone else go green with envy. Pick one up today!

Tags: gift guide, holidays, Scrubba, top tips, travel

The Great Camping Gadget Guide 2016

by Sam Stephens |

Fancy a spot of camping over the holiday season? With 2017 rapidly approaching, there's no better time to review your gear and drop a few cheeky gift hints for friends and family! To help you out we've collected some of our favourite camping products that are perfect for both families and individuals, and that cater to all budgets and camping ideals. Bring a little comfort and class to your tent this season with these portable and innovative gadgets designed for the great outdoors. 

 

 

TribeOne Pack Net:

A sturdy, 85 litre net constructed of high-strength, UV resistant shock cord, the PackNet enables gear to be easily attached to the outside of 45-110 litre packs, eliminating the need for individual bungees. Its 6-point utilisiation of TribeOne PackTacks also allows for the damage-free creation of draw points on any fabric.

RRP: 34.95USD

See more and buy here!

 

Wacaco Minipresso:

Small, light, and manually operated, the Minipresso requires no electricity, making it perfect for on-the-go coffee lovers. Easy to use and 100% BPA free, it requires only minimal maintenance and promises to deliver a quality espresso for chilly early mornings around the campfire.

RRP: 59.00USD 

See more and buy here!

 

Scrubba wash & dry kit: 

It’s easy to work up a sweat and then get clean again with this essential laundry kit. The Scrubba wash bag enables you to wash your clothes with no electricity and only minimal water, while the absorbent microfiber towel, twin set of inflatable coat hangers, and sturdy pegless clothesline make the drying process easy, leaving you clean, dry, and odourless at the end of each day.

RRP: 99.95USD

See more and buy here!

BioLite CampStove 

This nifty camp stove burns wood to create a smokeless campfire capable of cooking meals and boiling water within minutes, all while generating electricity that is sufficient for charging your electronic devices. With easy setup, free fuel, and performance on par with white gas stoves, it’s an essential device for all campers.

RRP: 129.95USD

          See more and buy here!

 

Cinch! Tents: 

These spacious tents are loaded with features for maximum comfort and convenience, and even come equipped with solar panels that can be paired with Cinch! solar power packs, making it easy to enjoy your electronic devices from the heart of the wilderness.

Choose from the 2, 3 or 4 man varieties to suit your camping style. 

RRP: 269.00 - 309.00USD

See more and buy here!

Whatever your style, these great gifts will help you flaunt it to achieve all the camping cheer with none the fear. 

Tags: gift guide, holidays, Scrubba, top tips, travel