I am honoured to receive regular emails asking for advice on planning expeditions, while I endeavour to answer all of your questions, sometimes I can not. It is my pleasure to try and help you however I can, but before you ask, have a glance below as it might just have the answers you are looking for.
C H O O S I N G Y O U R A D V E N T U R E
Probably the hardest part of an adventure is deciding what to do in the first place. It can be your lifelong bucket list journey, or a spur of the moment whim, a multi-year epic or a half day escape, just find something that makes your heart skip, and commit.
And if all else fails throw a dart at a map.
Ask yourself, why do I want to do what I want to do? Is it for the challenge? for science? for a record? for charity? For novelty? The options are limitless.
Still need inspiration? There are literally loads of people out there doing cool things, here is a handful of wonderful humans, groups and events to spark some ideas…
S O L O O R N O T ?
Going alone can be daunting, but also rewarding. The perks of flying solo is the freedom to do what you want, when you want. You can travel silently sneaking amidst the wildlife or run about in your underwear scream-singing your favourite song, or as I like to do a healthy bit of both!
‘Going alone is too scary’….Honestly, the scary part is leaving, once you have left it is truly amazing how quickly you will settle into a new routine of a solo traveller and start to wonder how you ever doubted yourself. True, there is no one there to guide your hand, or pick you up when times are hard but you will quickly discover you are capable of so much more than you ever imagined.
Travelling around New Zealand alone at 18, I was surprised by how social solo travelling was. I assumed I would be a loner, an outcast but in reality I spoke to people most days, made friends for life and contacts all over the world. When you are alone you seek company you might not otherwise.
Then again….this can happen:
Going with a friend or partner can be the most fun ever, you have someone to make you laugh and to share those memories with forever. You can feed off each others energy, race each other, push and progress together and embed your relationship forever. What you sacrifice in independence is more than gained with a lot of belly laughs.
As a personal note, my average expedition mental health recordings of daily mood (based on a 1-10 scale) was around 7/10 on solo trips, in company it averages nearly 8.5/10.
Just make sure you can tolerate another set of stinky socks in your tent…and remember, you might end up like this…
A F F O R D I N G I T
There are three things we all wish we had more of in life, time, money and energy. For most of us we get to pick two at any given point.
I don’t have the time-
If you can afford to go on long far, flung expeditions around the world then good for you! But i’m willing to bet for most of us its not the case, so we need to plan our time well. If you don’t have time to get out for weeks then make the most of the micro-adventure. Need inspired – check Alistair Humphreys for ideas.
I find personally that if I set a goal- no matter how grand, small or silly then I will find it much, much easier to plan and make time for it. Simply saying to myself that i’ll do something tomorrow normally means I won’t do it. Even better, tell your friends you are doing something, friendly peer pressure is an amazing motivator.
I can’t afford it-
With travel you basically have three options:
- Go expensive and travel for a short time
- Be a dirt bag and travel for ages.
- Get Paid for it
If flights are what are stopping you then right here on our own backyard has more than enough adventures for a lifetime. If you camp rather than use hotels, it will be able to go for longer. If you eat budget food and cook yourself rather than expensive meals out you will be able to go for longer.
I’m not fit enough-
Then look at this guy: Fat Guy Across America
You don’t need to be an athlete to start your expedition, but by the end of it you just might be one. Push yourself to your limit, stretch it but don’t break it. If you are going for some ultra endurance athlete event, then yes you will need to train, but if you are going for a journey then all you need is time and a strong mind, the rest should follow.
If you do want to train, then understand the mechanics of your mission. If I am going to kayak, then I will focus on my upper body and core strength, If it is a run then i’ll go for legs and cardio. The best and most effective way to train is to do what you are going to do- turn your training sessions into related micro adventures.
For example: To train for crossing Iceland, I and my companion Remi would hike up the local hill (400m) with 20L of water on our backs. At the top we sold as much of it as possible as tea, made some funds for the trip, trained our legs and enjoyed a day on a hill.
A N D W H A T I F I F A I L ?
Don’t worry, there is no such thing.
Rather than thinking of adventures as just a challenge, think instead of it as a scientist does thier experiment, even an unexpected or negative result gives a platform to learn from. In science there is no failure, only a greater understanding and so too should be the same for adventure.
Two rules I live by are:
Never make a plan B, instead make a second Plan A. If the first one doesn’t go to plan, then you are simply moving to a different one and not choosing a ‘lower’ option.
Be like Shackleton and not Scott – i.e know when to admit the challenge is over, retreat it don’t regret it.
G E T T I N G S P O N S O R E D
There is no ‘secret trick’ to finding a sponsor.
There are many great things that a sponsor brings, far beyond ‘free’ gear. They bring support, a platform to spread your journey, friends in kind and a family to relate to. It is a genuine pleasure to work with a good sponsor, and to see your content shared can be hugely rewarding. But before you go for one, firstly, ask yourself do I need one? Going alone and unsupported can also have its benefits, you will have no obligations to succeed or promises to fulfil, instead your own motivation and plans.
But ok, you want to get sponsored so here goes. . .
- Be yourself, don’t sell yourself. In a world filled with thousands of adventurous photos, and an ever increasing pool of energetic, enthusiastic content creators there is nothing that substitutes genuineness. Stick to your own ethics and look to people who follow your vision.
- Offer your experience. Sponsorship is not ‘free gear’ it is your chance to share your content and adventures to some awesome companies, and if you are lucky they might support you back, it is a mutual relationship. Deliver high, and deliver lots.
- A website of your own is super useful. It gives you credibility, you are who you say you are and aren’t afraid to show the world.
- Write hand written letters- it really makes a difference. Nothing is more genuine than a real letter you can hold in your hand. For our Iceland expeditionI wrote over 200 letters.
G E A R
Fancy gear is expensive, so ask yourself what you really need to make your adventure happen. Decide what you will need for a trip then spit it into two categories.
- Essentials – i.e Stuff to keep you alive.
- Luxuries – Everything else.
You can’t escape needing the basics, things like a tent, a sleeping bag etc. These need to fit the environment you are going to, you don’t need a £500 Everest down jacket for the Dales and you will die in the Himalaya with a Glastonbury pop up tent. It took me longer than it should have to realise buying fancy gear cuts deep into a trips budget, while cheaper gear lets you travel longer. That said- look for tough stuff that will last its worth.
The list of essentials cover everything to sleep, eat, drink and keep warm as well as the basics to safely use your mode of transport. Good boots are cheaper than a hundred blister plasters, a bike is not worth riding without a helmet, nor a kayak without a buoyancy aid. – These all take the priority when choosing gear.
Everything else is optional: Cameras, books, games etc. If you have to carry these yourself, then you will soon discover what you really needed. For some, a book might be essential to keep happy, and thats awesome! But for others it might feel like extra weight. It’s your choice.
If all else fails . . . just remember Maslow’s Millennial Heiarchy of needs.