Soft Tortilla Wraps
So this one isn’t really a food. Still, it’s a precious social lubricant that can found pretty much everywhere in the world.
So this one isn’t really a food. Still, it’s a precious social lubricant that can found pretty much everywhere in the world.
I come across countless posts and articles giving the advice to quit your job and head off on epic adventures. This can be brilliant advice for some. If you are not happy with your job and the life you live, a change of environment and a new career direction could be just what you need. We can give countless reasons to not to quit our jobs. Things like:
To be fair, these are all reasonable reasons to not quit your job.
If something makes you unhappy, you should take positive steps to change it. The advice to quit your job usually comes from the desire to live a rewarding, exciting and eventful existence. Quitting your job could be your first step to finding that lifestyle. But it shouldn’t be the first step. It shouldn’t even be the second step. More like a third step at the very least, after considering why you took on the job in the first place and what you could do to make things more enjoyable at work.
Before quitting, ask yourself what about your job is making you unhappy? Is quitting your job the only thing that would change how you feel?
If you are quitting your job to escape for a short period of time (even a couple of years) then return to the same old grey town in middle England, what will quitting your job achieve?
This is just escaping from reality temporarily. Once you return, the same old problems will be there. You will just be a bit older with some mega tales from your travels that nobody in your old local pub will be interested in hearing as they will be too wrapped up in their own life.
I’m all for quitting your job to take a break from the 9-5 existence, but consider if you are actually going to fix the problem that is making you want to quit your job.
Ask yourself the question “If I won £30 million tomorrow, what would I want to do as a job?”. Once you have the answer to this simple question, go out and do that. This is what will make you the happiest. Most of the things we actually want to do don’t require £30 million. Many rich people are still unhappy and lots of poor people are some of the happiest in the world.
Most people seek adventure in their spare time. Be it holidays, weekends or even after work. Most of us have more spare time than we think. If you work a 9-5 job, that is 8 hours spent at work. That gives you 16 hours spare in the other time in the day. You could message your friends and organise a wild camp near to where you all live. You can do this anywhere, even in London. If you need inspiration check out my recent midweek wild camp in London.
If you are planning a bigger, longer adventure, your holiday time is precious. It is amazing what you can do in just 10 days. Last December I set myself the challenge of walking 220miles to get home for Christmas. Most of my adventures have been during my holiday time. That is why they usually fall in the summer or at winter.
Protect this time
Let people that are important to you know your plans and try to get their support. It is likely they will think you are mad but use this as motivation. Once you have an idea, book or pay for the single most expensive thing you need. This is usually the flight if you are adventuring overseas. That way you will have made that first step towards heading off on your adventure.
Most workers in the UK are entitled to almost 6 weeks holiday entitlement. You are likely to want to spend this time with family/friends/partner. Why not try to convince them to join you on an adventure? That way you get your adventure fix and will likely be much closer to the person you adventure with by the end of the trip. If you have nobody to go with, that’s also fine. I often prefer a solo adventure.
Planning is a vital part of the adventure. If you are heading overseas it is likely that you will need some money. It goes without saying that having a job makes earning money much easier. If you live in the dream world of owning a business that you can run from your computer, you won’t need to quit your job. You will be able to go on an adventure and still be able to work. As long as you have a computer and an internet connection. I would advise against this and try to disconnect if you can but everybody has their own way of adventuring.
If you have dreams of being a professional adventurer, travelling the world with corporate sponsorship and bags of free kit, you might want to take a moment to think if that is actually how you want to go on an adventure. Sure, getting paid to go on adventures sounds great but there is usually a catch. The catch being that your freedom to do what you want is usually lost. Even when I go away on adventures with the Army, the freedom to do my own thing is lost. The appetite for risk understandably lowers and there will be certain objectives that need to be completed that may not always be that fun.
You don’t want to be in debt whilst on an adventure. Save up money for an adventure and don’t expect to receive handouts. Anybody can get a credit card and travel the world. You will regret it when you return.
Easy for me to say hey. But seriously, why not?
Money does not = happiness.
Happiness is a combination of lots of things. Social interactions, safety, purpose and health. Happiness is not a final destination. We are all striving to find it in our own way.
Some bankers may be truly happy with their lives. If they are, it is unlikely that the money is what makes them happy. It’s more likely to be the experiences and things that money can buy that make them happy as opposed to some numbers on a computer system or pieces of laminated paper with the Queens’ head on it.
Think about your interests and passions. Can you turn them into a job that will give you real purpose and motivation (within reason. I too would love to be a professional footballer but I don’t think it’s going to happen now. Still, I’m holding out for that England call-up).
If your job involves adventures, you’ve hit the jackpot. Do what you think will make you happy and the rest is sure to follow. Not sure what makes you happy? Try new stuff out and one day something will click.
Aim to produce something worthwhile. It doesn’t have to be a hard product but could also mean giving others knowledge. My scuba diving instructor in Egypt was one of the happiest people I’ve come across in recent years. He does what he loves every day and produces another qualified scuba diver through his instruction.
I am very lucky to be in a job that I thoroughly enjoy. As an Officer in the British Army, I get to travel the world, go on epic expeditions during work time and get to change posts every two years. Being in the military also gives me a deep sense of pride and service. Last winter, my unit were called up to assist the emergency services with the flood disaster in Yorkshire. To be in my home county helping vulnerable people who had lost everything due to the floods was an extremely rewarding experience.
But you don’t have to sign up to the forces to live a life of adventure or to feel that you are doing something worthwhile. There are countless examples of people from many different professions doing some epic stuff.
It is completely normal to have some fears and questions before heading out to go wild camping. We get used to sleeping in a cosy bed, surrounded by walls in a warm and safe environment. Why would anybody in their right mind want to head out into the wild and sleep there? You may ask:
Is it legal? Will I be safe? Will I get a good nights sleep? Do I take a tent or sleep with just a bivvy bag? What is a bivvy bag?
These are all very reasonable questions that I also asked before I first wild camped.
I have spent many nights under the stars with the Army in an organised Platoon harbour area. This is when a group of 30 soldiers go into a defensive position so they can conduct administration (cleaning weapons, resupplying ammunition, eating and sleeping). We would normally sleep under a military poncho (basically a tarp) to protect ourselves from the wind and rain. In hot countries, the tarp would be usually used to provide some decent shade.
Wild camping alone feels much different to spending your nights in the wild with the Army. At first, when I was wild camping alone, I felt much more nervous and worried. Worried that I would be disturbed during the night. Worried I would be found by somebody. The safety of sleeping alongside 30 soldiers, with your protection provided by machine guns and assault rifles was no longer there. Looking back now, those initial fears were understandable but unnecessary.
Wild camping is liberating, cheap and lots of fun. You will naturally feel safer in a tent than you would out in a bivvy bag in the open. But once you have slept without a tent, that feeling of freedom is addictive. You will even look forward to escaping the confines of your synthetic box and will start to embrace those slightly drizzly, British nights. It is no safer in a tent than it is in a bivy bag. You will be harder to spot in a bivvy which means you are more likely to be left alone.
Wild camping will have different meanings to different people. For some, a night in a campsite, in a tent or caravan could be wild camping. For others, it can mean going to some remote corner of a national park, away from all civilisation and sleeping on the side of a mountain. Wild camping is what you make of it. It can be all of the above. As long as it's outside and you are camping, in my book, it's wild camping. The perfect campsite would be flat, dry, have a running water source nearby and have an epic view. So that other people can also enjoy the wild, you should always aim to leave the least trace that you possibly can.
This is slightly more complicated than it should be. In Scotland, it is legal pretty much everywhere. It's also legal in Dartmoor. In rest of the UK, it is technically illegal unless you have the landowners permission. This being said, I have wild camped all over the UK and have never encountered any problems. I have slept in abandoned barns, by rivers and in woods and even on a golf course. As long you treat the space you are staying in with respect, leave no trace and don't stay for more than one night you are highly unlikely to encounter any problems. My advice - it's often better to beg for forgiveness than it is to ask permission. For me, this is part of the adventure. For others, you may want less risk, which is understandable. Check out this website for a risk-free way to wild camp: https://nearlywildcamping.org/
Many external factors will assist you to decide on the most suitable way to wild camp. The way you are travelling will be one of the biggest factors, be it walking, cycling, paddling in a canoe, hitch-hiking or any other wonderful and crazy form of transport you can think of. If you are travelling on foot you will want to pack light. A bivvy bag and a light sleeping bag will be best. If you are cycling, you will be able to take a tent for more comfort.
Other factors that will affect the manner in which you camp will be weather conditions and length of the adventure. For a weekend trip to the hills or in the woods, you could get away with sleeping in a sleeping bag and a bivvy bag. If you are going to be spending time in some horrible weather, it is advisable to take a tent and a sleeping bag.
With this kit, you are pretty much set to go and wild camp anywhere in the UK. It may not be the most comfortable but it allows you to have the freedom to camp with a minimal footprint.
One of my favourite things about wild camping is the fact it is usually free or at the least very cheap. Once you have some very basic equipment, you are set to head off to your first wild camp.
Picking an epic wild camping spot depends on a multitude of different circumstances. Here are some of the key things to bear in mind:
Books have the ability to transport us to another land. One of the world's greatest feelings is to be so engrossed in a book that we forget who we are and become enthralled in somebody else's story.
Recently I have started listening to audio books. This allows me to consume the stories whilst I'm on the road on a long car journey or I even listen to them whilst I'm at the gym. Audio books may be great but nothing will ever quite replace a hard copy of a paper book.
Reading a good book is an investment. A book can plant an idea or trigger a creative spark that can lead your life into a totally new direction. No other medium has quite the same power and influence as a really good book. Some of these books have certainly altered the way I view the world and the way I live my life.
This post is slightly stray from my usual theme of adventure. Even though some of the books would definitely fit the adventure/travel category, I enjoy reading a wide breadth of books on different subjects. Here are some of my favourites.
by Daniel Keys.
Quite possibly one of my favourite books to start the list. Flowers for Algernon takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. It follows the story of a mentally disabled man called Charlie who undergoes an experimental programme to improve his intelligence. The programme was previously successful with a highly intelligent lab mouse called Algernon. It follows their progression through this experiment. The book is different as it is written in a first-person narrative from the viewpoint of Charlie as his intelligence improves. I would not have previously considered myself a science fiction fan, but this book made me reconsider my previous judgement of the genre.
With the rapid development of artificial intelligence and scientific breakthroughs in our current reality, this book is a reminder of some of the ethical questions that we may or may not get wrong when experimenting with human life. I would recommend this book to absolutely everybody. This story is heartbreaking and beautiful.
By Alistair Humphreys.
The first of the two Alistair Humphrey books. This autobiographical account of Alistar's around the world cycle ride is what really triggered my decision to take up cycle touring and go out on my first real adventure. I read this book whilst I was stuck in the largest British base in Afghanistan, Camp Bastion. At the time I was working in a staff role in a large headquarters which was as boring as it sounds. Once I had downloaded it to my kindle I could hardly put it down. As soon as I returned from Afghanistan, I decided to go on my own cycle trip. Not quite as exotic or hardcore as Alistair's but we all have to start somewhere. This book is in two parts. Once you have read this go and read Thunder and Sunshine, the second part. Both books stand alone as great adventure stories told with Alistair's eloquent and humorous manner.
By Ranulph Fiennes.
Ranulph Fiennes has written more books than the number of adventures I have been on! A true warrior. He has grit, determination and a resilience that is unparalleled by anybody I can think off that is living today.
This book is a must read for any budding adventurers. Ranulph can, at times be pretty abrupt and get straight to the point. It's probably one of the main reasons I enjoy reading his books. He is honest and open throughout. Especially poignant is how he writes about the death of his wife. Ranulph is possibly the greatest ever adventure to have ever lived. Pioneering, brave and stubborn. They don't make them like him anymore.
by Erich Maria Remarque
This novel was originally written in German and was released in 1929 under the original title: 'Im Westen nichts Neues'. When translated this means 'In the West Nothing New'. Remarque was a German veteran of World War I. The account of the Great War from the viewpoint of a German soldier is often overlooked in the UK and the US. The story describes the basic training (in which there are still clear parallels) and his deployment to the Western front. It addresses the gritty reality of death in war: what it feels like to take another life. Highly recommended for anybody that is serving in the Armed Forces or for anybody with a keen interest in the human element of war.
by Enid Blyton
My favourite childhood book. A genuine classic. This series of books is probably what really triggered my sense of adventure. I would read all of the Enid Blyton Faraway stories and would feel like I was actually meeting Saucepan Man and Moonface and his friends in the tree. I should go back and read them again. I'll probably enjoy them even more now.
by Alistair Humphreys
A fantastic book of inspiration for anybody that's unsure about where to go for their first adventure. Micro-adventures are just that. Short, accessible adventures that everybody can make time for at some point in their life. The book is full of beautiful pictures and detailed accounts of the micro-adventures that you can easily go on. It is a perfect book for somebody that wishes to change their life for a world of adventure. Pick one of the micro-adventures in the book and go and put your own swing on it. It contains the details of numerous microadventures that Alistair has tried and describes. You can walk, cycle, paddle, swim, or use any other type of human powered transport to get out into the wild. Climb a mountain. Sleep outdoors. You will feel much better for it.
by Yuval Noah Harari
This book blew my mind. Well written and actually understandable. As Homo Sapiens, we should do our most to learn as much as we can about where we came from. This book has given my life a completely new perspective. Out of all of these books, this is the one I would probably recommend first. It answers many questions and raises much more. By looking at our past, we can better understand our future. After reading this book, you will suddenly feel like you have gained an inordinate amount of intelligence.
by Rolf Potts
I only read this for the first time recently. Highly recommended by Tim Ferriss, I thought I would give it a look. I was not disappointed. Great book! Short and easy to read but full of useful advice and tips. Another book that has given me a new perspective on my future and how I travel. Now it's time to implement some of the lessons in this book for my next travels and adventures.
Please leave some recommendations in the comments of your must read books and what makes them special.
Interrailing is one of the most popular methods of travelling through Europe during a summer holiday or extended break. It is considered to be cheap, provide freedom and due to the excellent rail network in Europe, you can pretty much travel to any European country via train.
I have used the InterRail pass on a couple of occasions. My first InterRail trip was in the summer of 2010, just before I went to Sandhurst to start my Officer training. During my first trip, I spent some of the time training in preparation for my upcoming start of my military career. I spent the rest of the time nursing sunburn and hangovers.
My friend James and I travelled from Albufeira in Portugal to Split in Croatia with a 4-week pass. We spent a total of 6 weeks away on what felt like a dash through Europe. Our itinerary from memory was:
I went on my first InterRail experience immediately after graduating from University. James and I had talked about travelling around Europe for a few years beforehand and we decided to book the tickets and make it happen. We certainly made the most of our spare time that summer. We partied hard and spent most of the time on the train recovering. By the end of the 6 weeks, I was ready for a rest from interrailing. Going to Sandhurst felt like a step down in pace in comparison to the way we travelled for those 6 weeks. I'm glad I did that at 21 as there is not a chance my liver could now cope with the abuse it received during that journey.
My second InterRailing trip was in 2014. This time I used the ticket to visit some Eastern European countries but this time I bought a 10-day pass. My itinerary for this trip was:
This was a much more relaxed adventure. Spending time in the mountains in Romania was the highlight of the trip. I travelled at a much slower pace when compared to the first InterRail journey. The 10-day train ticket was used over a period of 15 days. I had time to experience what the local communities did during a normal week.
The InterRail pass is a rail pass that is available for European residents. The website seat 61 is a great resource for anybody that want to know more about the eligibility and cost comparisons. Seat 61 gives so much useful detail, it would be unnecessary for me to write about it as this site does a much better job than I could.
For the most up to date information and prices for InterRail passes, you can visit their official website at http://www.interrail.eu/
For the first time adventurer, interrailing is a great way to visit a large number of countries in Europe for a relatively cheap price. The youth pass (under 28 years old) costs €419 for a month. If you used it every day, it would cost you a total of €13.96 a day. That is amazing value!
For most trains, you can just jump on and be off to your next destination. Some faster and overnight trains require a reservation. One great resource is a European rail timetable. This nifty little book is updated every month and has all the information you will need for planning your journey. If you decide to change your plans halfway through your journey, it is simple to do. If you meet a new group or make new friends you can alter your plans to travel with them.
An InterRail global pass also gives free travel on Superfast Ferries, Minoan Lines & Blue Star Ferries between Italy (Bari, Brindisi, Ancona or Trieste) and Greece (Corfu, Igoumenitsa or Patras for the train to Athens).
Rather than paying for a room in a hostel or Air BnB, you can travel through the night on the sleeper train and wake up at your destination. It won't be the most comfortable night sleep you will ever have. If you are crossing an international border, there is a chance you have to get up to show your passport to the customs officials. But still, waking up in a new European city is an experience not to be missed.
Here is one for the future. If you buy a family ticket, your children under the age of 12 travel for free. Not a bad way to travel Europe with your young family.
During my interrail trips I whizzed from one country to the next to get the most value from the ticket. It can be tempting to cram too much into a journey. After a few around Europe adventures, I now believe that spending more time in one place is more valuable. It's pretty difficult, if not impossible to get a real feel for a foreign location in less than 48 hours. Over time, I have come to realise that I prefer to spend more time in one location. This can still be achieved with an InterRail pass but consider if you require one at all.
When travelling on sleepers, fast trains or some border crossing trains, you often have to pay an extra fee. This price is usually around €10 but can sometimes be as high as €40. If not factored into a budget, these fees can be a nasty shock. Always check the supplement fee.
Train food in England is crap. The options are usually limited to pre-packaged sandwiches, fizzy drinks, salted nuts and sweets and chocolate bars. Things in mainland Europe are no different, if not slightly worse. Plan ahead and bring some food with you onto the train. My top tip for anybody travelling on a budget is to take a Tupperware box. Cook some pasta in your hostel the night before and there you go. Cheap and easy meal for the train ride.
It's official. I no longer fit into the 'youth' category for InterRail passes. According to InterRail, I am now officially an 'adult'. It's strange because I still feel the same as I did a few years ago when I was a 'youth'. A global, month-long pass would now cost me €537 as opposed to the glory days of the youth price of €419. Is this the sign that I am getting too old to stay in hostels? Am I slowly becoming that old person that spins tales of the good old days from my first InterRail trip in 2010 when most of the people in the hostel bars would have been 11 years old back then? Not yet surely, I've got some time yet before that happens, right?
Please share your experiences of InterRailing. Have you had a good or bad experience? Would you recommend InterRailing to others? Share your itineraries and top tips in the comments below.
Having an adventure is sometimes just a matter of going out and allowing things to happen in a strange and amazing new environment - not so much a physical challenge as a psychic one.
-Rolf Potts, Vagabonding
The term Adventure is overused. We live in a society where jumping out of planes, bungee jumping, ice climbing and wreck diving are becoming fairly common leisure activities. I've even put the word adventure it in the title of this blog with the hope that it makes what I have to say sound more interesting. I doubt many people would be interested in reading a blog called 'SlightlyUncomfortableTripsWithAdam.com' or 'OccasionalJauntUsingHuman PoweredTransportWithAdam.com'. Actually, on second thoughts I think they sound quite catchy....
In the modern, media-driven world we live in, adventures that do not break world records, make riveting television shows or are highly dangerous with a good chance of death, can be considered to not usually merit a mention. There are plenty of people that have climbed Mt Everest, rowed across oceans and cycled around the world. This is all impressive stuff but real adventure is not something can be sold by a tour operator or captured on television.
So far my adventures have been pretty small scale in comparison to the polar explorers and world leading mountain climbers. The most challenging physical test I have completed so far is to walk 220 miles in 10 days with about 30kg of kit. I can see why this would seem impressive to some people. Most people wouldn't dream of sleeping wild in the woods and in barns during December in the England. I also appreciate that the majority of people wouldn't want to walk 22 miles in one day, never mind doing it again, nine more times. Even more so when we have perfectly working cars and trains that can do the same journey in just a few hours.
My favourite adventure so far was definitely Busking to Belfast. It was physically fairly easy. I cycled around 300 miles, which is not personally a big achievement. Cycle touring is something that I'm fairly comfortable with now. But to busk in public was daunting, scary and exciting. People stopped and spoke to me constantly. I had so many more interesting human interactions through the busking adventure than I did walking on A roads through England.
Does this mean the busking trip was more of an adventure than the walking home for Christmas challenge? In my opinion, I think probably, yes.
The real adventure was doing something that put me out of my comfort zone. Putting yourself in a position where you feel like you did when you was 16 years old and asked that girl you liked out on a date, is to me, adventure.
Adventure is a decision after the fact - a way of deciphering an event or an experience that you can't quite explain.
-Rolf Potts, Vagabonding
I often wish I had cycled around the world when I was 21 instead of joining the Army straight from University. However, if I had, my life would have taken a completely different path. Rather than looking back at what I could have done, I have decided to look forward to what I can do for my next adventure.
If I really wanted to cycle around the world there is actually nothing stopping me. I can easily quit my job, leave my Mrs and start cycling.
If I was to do this, it is highly unlikely that I would be happy. I would feel extremely selfish, miss my home comforts and likely regret my decision within minutes.
Life is about balance. I enjoy spending time at home, going for food and drinks with friends and even going to work but I also want to experience as much as I possibly can in this short amount of time we have on this planet. To see as many different cultures, eat foods that I don't even know exist and attempt languages that to my ear, just sound like random noise.
It's natural to compare our achievements with the achievements of others.
But this does not lead to individual happiness and contentment. This often leads to bitterness and a confused sense of regret.
I plan to make a conscious effort to not look at other people that are out there, doing cool adventures and wish that it was me doing that. If I really wanted to do it, I would. Instead, I plan to adventure in my own way. If I want to cycle the world, I will probably do it in stages. Possibly with a ukulele.
When I spent 3 months in Kenya with the British Army, I saw elephants, hyenas, giraffes, scorpions, zebras and all manners of other exotic wildlife. To the local Kenyan's that live in the bush, seeing an elephant or a lion is not a strange experience. It is a completely normal event that will happen as often to them as often as we see ducks or goats in the UK.
Whilst I was living in Egypt last year, using a squat toilet, eating stuffed pigeon and watching Sufi dancers whirl in circles for hours are experiences that were completely alien to me. This is why travel is one of the greatest adventures you can partake in.
These new cultural experiences opened my mind to how other people in different cultures live.
To me, these new experiences were all part of the adventure of living in Cairo. In time, these new experiences would become familiar. As this happens, I keep pushing my cultural and social norms through further travel and more adventures.
Through experience, I have learnt that pushing myself physically is only part of the adventure. Doing something in a strange and wonderful environment can be equally adventurous.
The physically challenging part is often fun to look back at after the event. At the time, I usually regret even starting and wish I could be at home with my slippers on and be sat on my sofa watching something relaxing.
This is type II fun to a tee. ( For a great description check out here: https://kellycordes.com/2009/11/02/the-fun-scale/ ).
Horrible at the time but the sense of pride and strange contentment that comes with pushing what you thought where your boundaries. There is definitely a place for type II and even type III fun. But type II fun alone does not make an adventure. If that was the case every log race and stretcher run I have ever been on would be classed as an adventure. These were just beastings.
I think I have come up with a plan to maintain my balance.
I plan to spend some time away each year on a large scale adventure. The amount of time I spend away will depend on work, life and the amount of time I feel that is necessary to achieve the goal of the adventure. The big adventure this year will depend on my work schedule, but once I have some space and time, I will ensure I guard some of it for adventure and the rest of the time will be for the other good stuff like spending time with loved ones.
This way I get my adventure fix but also get to do all the other 'normal' things that people do in life.
Now it's time to plan the next adventure.