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Believe in Yourself and the Choices You Make

Trepidation, excitement, nervousness – far better to be feeling these than none at all.

Last Friday was a momentous occasion for me (writes my friend John Summerton). I was down in Bristol seeing the front cover of the very first printed edition of Sidetracked roll off the print press. On the drive home, with a huge grin on my face, I thought back to how it all began:

I grew up being slightly outdoorsy – but certainly no more than the average child growing up in the 70s – and it wasn’t until my early 20s that I started traveling a bit, both on and off the well trodden backpacker trails. I quickly became engrossed in learning about new places, the geography and the people. Time moved on and I trained as a graphic designer, got married, had kids and became settled and very happy in our way of life. However this passion remained and became the fuel for the concept of Sidetracked.  

Three years ago, after a few years of being a freelance designer, comfortable in my own bubble of work and life, I decided it was time to combine my design training with this interest in sharing personal accounts of adventure and exploration – I did a few design mockups, sent out a few emails and roped in a good friend of mine to help build the first incarnation of the website. It took a few months and in June 2011 the first edition of the website went live featuring stories from AlTom Allen and Mark Kalch. Hours and hours of work to create a brand and a new website from scratch, and in that first week I had just 300 visits. Perhaps I’d set my expectations too high or had been completely unrealistic but I’d hoped for more. 

The following six months was spent developing the concept and the website, and discovering very quickly that becoming an online publisher was not going to be easy! The research, production, social media etc was all new to me and, to be honest the whole idea of it was pretty overwhelming. To be honest, I was scared of failure – and once you have fear in your mind, you start doubting yourself. Was this just a crazy waste of time?

But I pushed on, sought help and expanded the team with Jamie and Andrew and Sidetracked began to get noticed. I’d like to think that we’re now becoming established as a great source of inspiration for all things travel and adventure. This year is going to be a big one for us, with improvements to the website, some live events and even Sidetracked TV. 

The move into print has been a long term ambition for me. There’s definitely a renaissance in premium, well made publications and I think holding a book in hand, the feel of the paper and the smell of the inks is something that far outweighs any digital counterpart.  With the help of the editorial team and Martin Hartley, our new Director of Photography, we have created a journal featuring a broad range of stories that encapsulate and aspire adventure. And the most exciting thing to see is the orders and coming in from all around the world. Love it!

It’s hard to explain the feelings throughout all of this. Trepidation, excitement, nervousness come to mind. But, in a way, these are all good sensations – far better to be feeling these than none at all. These are the results of pushing your own personal boundaries. I’m no motivational speaker (far from it!) but I’d simply say that if you have something in your life you want to do, or want to change, then find a way to make it happen. Believe in yourself and the choices you make. 

  • Get hold of your own copy of the first edition here.
  • And follow Sidetracked on Twitter too.


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  1. I’m always full of admiration for people who follow a challenging course, especially when there is risk involved. These stories always help me through my own challenges, however small they may be.

  2. Richard Posted

    I have been following Sidetracked on-line for some time and love the site. I can’t wait till the Sidetracked One – the first in-print magazine arrives on the door step!

  3. I also really like Sidetracked and their approach of “appealing adventure” and stumbled across the first print edition a few times ago on different sites and always was wondering if I should order or not. This “essay” makes the idea and maybe even more important the dedication behind Sidetracked kind of more approachable or let’ say visible.
    So yeah, the bigcartel link is sitting in my “Pocket” quite a while now. Probably time to release it finally…
    Cheers and best of luck!!

  4. Louise Posted

    I’m a huge fan of Sidetracked but I will not be purchasing a printed copy because I am following Alastair’s very good advice to cut out extraneous spending in order to explore the world – but it is killing me not to get my hands on what I’m sure will be a beautiful publication. Good luck and thanks for all the online content! I’m sure that in the future (when my financial situation improves) I will have a stack of Sidetracked printed copies on my bedside table 🙂



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