I’m fascinated by people’s reasons for travelling and undertaking the adventures they do. Here’s the story behind my reasons for my love of adventure and travel.
In the beginning
I was mad about faraway places and loved adventure as a kid. We learnt about the Brazilian rainforest at primary school and I still have a poster that I was fascinated with from back then. Geography was my favourite lesson at secondary school too, and I remember pouring over a book (and, ahem, winning a gold star) for writing about Lima in Peru (still on the list to visit)!
The first inkling I had of being an adventure affectionado was discovering a gapyear brochure (or back then in 1997 it was just a photocopied coloured sheet of paper with a description of where you could go and what you could do) which featured a hike across the Great Rift Valley and volunteer work in an elephant orphanage. I daydreamed about going, but I didn’t have the money or the confidence.
As a child we never had the money either to go jetsetting around the world, so I’m not sure where my love of travel and adventure has come from. I flew to a few places on week long boozy holidays but finally bit the bullet and left an ex-boyfriend, a ton of debts and no idea what to do with my life behind me in 2001 and went travelling for the first time.
Travelling for the first time
I flew to Australia, where I smoked too much, drank too much and partied too much, then onto Thailand where I fell in love again – with the country. Escaping the Khao San Road madness, gawping at stupendous temples, adoring the Buddhist culture, drinking all the buckets, loving all the beaches. The people, food, culture, history. Everything. I had never been anywhere like it. On through southeast Asia on the well-work backpacker trail through Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Bali. Finishing in New Zealand.
Fast forward six years to 2007 where I had scrimped and saved enough for another year away. More boyfriend troubles, still in debt but a little happier with life at work, I chucked it all in for my true love. Travel. This time I wanted it to be a little more immersive. I’d spent time working with a gap year publisher and was really interested in learning more about the volunteer sector so I spent time building houses in Honduras with Save the Children and i-2-i, looking after turtles and creating awareness campaigns for the local media in Kenya, tracking elephants in Namibia and helping with reforestation projects in western Australia. I spent four months in Africa volunteering and travelling through eastern and southern Africa, four months working and volunteering in Perth, Australia and four months travelling and trying to take decent photographs in Asia.
On my return I wanted my career to involve travel and conservation in some form or another and was lucky enough to secure a job with an NGO, where I spent 10 happy (ish) years. I spent time working on conservation and ecotourism projects in Vietnam, Uganda and Cambodia and travelled with work to Brazil for Rio+20 sustainable development conference. I went back over to one of my favourite countries, Kenya, to complete my masters in tourism, environment and development on marine community ecotourism.
Adventure wise, it’s not that I like (or would) take risks. I’m not into skydiving (though I have done that in Taupo, New Zealand and it was awesome) or base jumping (just no) but love the idea of setting up a challenge that is hard but achievable. It gives me a real sense of satisfaction, plus I get to explore the great outdoors. In 2003 I cycled across the UK. Sounds amazing though it was the shortest distance, and I worked out it would have taken Paula Radcliffe a shorter time to run it!, built a raft and raced Iban tribes down the Kintabantan River in Borneo in 2008 (just happened to be in the right place at the right time), and run 150 miles across the Sahara desert in the Marathon des Sables in 2012 (with planning and lots and lots of day hikes anyone can do this. I promise). I love what Adventure Uncovered is doing – their strapline is Adventure with Purpose, and I love that. It says in three words what my aim in getting out there and exploring is. It’s a bit tricky at the moment but I’d love to do something like run around the Capital Ring picking up plastic along the way. Maybe soon….
I love visiting new countries. I love finding out about the must do things, the hidden gems, the history and culture, all the people, the religions, the landscapes and environment. Travelling opened my eyes up to the inequality in the world. I’m particularly passionate about wildlife conservation and using tourism for good. Now I’ve got two young children, my focus has shifted slightly to nearer attractions, though if the money and time is there, I’m quite happy to go anywhere with them! I hope they love exploring as much as I do, but it’s up to them of course.
And then there were three (and four)
After having my first son I had a full blown identity crisis (along with some major pnd). Although I loved my son I really really missed my freedom and being able to do adventurous things and go travelling. When I began to feel a bit better, I thought I’d start finding fun things around my local area to do that I would enjoy, as well as my son. I came away from baby groups feeling worse than before, so I canned that, and started going up to London to Hockney exhibitions, and printing off hiking routes and going for an hour walk with F in the sling instead.
We travelled with him for the first time when he was eight months old when we went to a friend’s wedding, and I realised that I could still be me and like adventure and travel. It just needed a bit of a shift in mindset and a lot of a shift in logistics! Since then, we’ve been back to France, Italy, UAE and Mauritius. My second son came along in 2016, and this time I made sure I carried on doing the things that made me me!
I’m an avid runner so wanted to get back to that quite quickly after F was born. Running again really helped fight my depression too. I managed a marathon 14 months after F was born. I then ran London marathon a year after my second son B was born to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation. Again I found that I needed a challenge for myself. Maybe a marathon wasn’t then best idea, but it really helped me feel more like me again and I loved feeling like a runner again.
This blog evolved from all that. I wanted to talk about everyday adventures and activities that families could do with kids, great places to travel to and what to do there, tips on how to be adventurous, and tell stories about other parents that had done really cool things since having children. I also discovered the amazing Family on a Bike in the process, plus loads of other family travel bloggers like Tin Box Traveller, My Travel Monkey, GlobalMouse, Suitcases and Sandcastles and Mama Earth Travels, and realised there were lots of other people out there like me who had kids but still wanted to enjoy exploring the world.
I now feel really excited about this change in focus. I’ve got two young children who are so up for exploring (in between some whinging of course) and give me a different outlook. I go to places I wouldn’t have gone before (hello Dubai) and am finding joy in the slow and everyday adventure instead.
What a long post! Well done if you got this far. I’d love to know why you love travel and adventure? x