Seeing the world in a beater car is a good way to remind yourself that you're alive

For decades, mankind has explored the globe from behind the wheel in the name of adventure, discovery, or motorsports. Participating in a cross-continental rally requires spending a sizable chunk of cash — unless you sign up for the annual Mongol Rally.

The 10,000-mile long Mongol Rally came to life as a fun, travel-oriented road trip for adventurous souls on a tight budget. Don’t expect to see expensive Land Rover Defenders or Jeep Wranglers decked out with every piece of equipment in the catalog. Only vehicles with an engine displacement of under a liter are eligible to participate, which means the rally is off-limits to just about anything that’s not a tiny economy car.

The organizers prefer you select an older car, and they encourage participants to spend time making their set of wheels unique. If it’s too new, it’s boring and predictable; if it’s fully stock, it’s boring, too. Covering 10,000 miles in a beater is an adventure in and of itself, and we haven’t even told you about the route yet.

The Mongol Rally starts in London, England — so far, so good. It ends, as its name loosely suggest, about 400 miles north of Mongolia’s capital in a Russian town named Ulan Ude. How you get there is up to you and your co-driver. There is no set route to follow, and absolutely no support along the way. That’s when having an older car is beneficial. Have you ever tried finding an OBD2 code scanner in the Kazakhstan desert?

Finally, all participants must raise at least 1,000 British pounds (about $1,300) for charity before they’re allocated a spot on the starting line. Half of it must go to Cool Earth, a charity run by the event organizers that funds efforts to save rain forests around the globe. The other half can go to the charity of your choice, regardless of whether you’re into saving kittens or bankrolling research on Easter Island.

Tempted? There’s still time to sign up for this year’s edition. The launch party takes place on July 15, and the actual event kicks off the following day. The entry fee is 650 British pounds per car, and 225 British pounds per motorcycle. These figures convert to $835 and $289, respectively. If you follow the rules, that’s more than you’ll spend on the car.

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