It’s a foolhardy thing to tell other people how they ought to lead their lives. I’m conscious that heading off on adventures is far easier for me than it is for many other people. It’s why in my new book Grand Adventures I include a section where people very different from me (female, young, old, disabled, beginners) offer their encouragement to others thinking about setting out on big trips of their own.
Similarly, the individual relationships and commitments in our lives are hard for other people to understand or unravel.
It’s certain, however, that these ties that bind often impede the adventures we dream of. So how can we think about these commitments and relationships and consider whether there may be a way of fulfilling those duties but also making plans for the adventure of a lifetime.
This much is true: expeditions have cost me time, money, relationships and messed with sensible life plans, pensions and promotion prospects. They do not make my life easy. They are selfish. But I do not regret any of them. Indeed, I regret a few that I have not done. For adventures have enhanced my life and – this is important – they have ultimately enhanced most of those things I just mentioned, too, despite the initial pain, suffering, worry, compromise and hassle. In other words, my journeys have been worth it in the long run.
When I set off to cycle round the world I did not have a job or a mortgage. I had no monthly bills to pay. So long as I did not spend all the money I had saved, I was free to do whatever I wanted, wherever I wanted, for however long I wanted. My life was incredibly simple. I look back now at that younger me with enormous envy!
If you are young, free and single then now is the time to head for the hills and go do something extraordinary. : Life will never be so simple again! For you are not yet entangled in the mesh of commitments that grows over the years. Save up a tiny bit of cash, whatever you can manage, then go do something crazy. It will enhance your CV and teach you more than most expensive tuition fees will ever do. If a future employer isn’t more likely to give you a job because of your experiences then they’re not the type you want to be working for anyway. Skip this blog post and go! You have no excuse.
Money and time constraints make life complicated, but with planning you can free yourself from some of the muddle. Far more binding are our relationships: husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends , partners and families.
If the person you love is also itching for adventure, then things should be simple and exciting. You need to start saving and start planning today. If you both save £1000 and are happy to share a tent then you’ve got double the money and fewer outgoings. Skip this blog post and get planning!
If you’re in a relationship and you both wish to travel but you have children, then adventure planning becomes more complicated. But if your brood are young enough to not have an opinion, or they are able to express an opinion but are still young enough for you to get away with saying ‘because I told you so’, then adventures are still quite achievable. There are challenges and potential difficulties in taking your family down an unconventional route like this. But what an education for the children! What an achievement! What a glorious shared adventure for the whole family to remember and savour for the rest of their lives.
Perhaps the most complicated and potentially difficult scenario is if you desperately wish to travel the world but your other half does not, and cannot be persuaded to join you. If you’re lucky you’ll be given their blessing and the freedom to head out and do your own thing, reuniting afterwards in a lovely cocktail of happiness, rainbows and fluffy kittens.
But you may have a partner who – wonderful though they may be – does not want to join you on a trip, and does not want you to go, either… This is where things get tricky. I’m not sure my dubious Agony Aunt skills will be much help, but I will try my best!
You’ll need to mull over a few questions to help everything proceed as amicably and smoothly as possible. This is a kind, decent thing to do, of course. But it’s also your best option for being able to wangle another leave pass to go on an adventure again in the future!
Why does your other half not want you to go?
Is it is the time away, the money, the risk, the person you’ll be going away with, or the inconvenience of being left to juggle everything back home by themselves?
If it’s the length of time you will be away that is the problem, can you negotiate an amount of time that is acceptable for you both? Make the best of the time you’re granted and hatch a plan that is suitably short and sharp. This will rule out cycling round the world, but won’t it need not eliminate everything.
After cycling round the world for four years, it took me a while to learn that duration is not the key measuring stick for a ‘good adventure’. There are many other ingredients to a great trip, and time is not critical to the recipe. It took me 45 days to row across the Atlantic, and a week to walk round the M25. Both were memorable experiences. Ultimately, it’s better to do something short than nothing at all.
If it’s not so much the absence of your lovely personality that is the problem, but the absence of your useful role in sharing life’s daily chores, then can you think of ways to equal up your balance sheet before or after the trip? Bear in mind, however, that you will be perceived to be in debt on this account for the rest of your life, even long after you feel the debt has been settled!
If money is the stumbling block, work out between you how much money you can justify spending, and then set that as your limit for the trip. You’ll still be able to do something great: doing stuff on a daft budget often makes it more fun anyway. Try pointing out how rich Bear Grylls has become from his adventures. Do not mention that almost nobody else has achieved the same amount of fame or wealth, though!
If it’s the risk of the adventure that’s causing friction, focus on an idea where the risk (or the perceived risk, at least) is lower. Perceived risk is an interesting concept. People often suggest to me that rowing across the Atlantic in a little boat was very dangerous. In fact, so long as you don’t fall off the boat, it’s really not very dangerous at all, for you are in control of most of the risks. If you keep the hatches closed and keep yourself tied to the boat, chances are that you’ll be fine.
You might know that what you are planning is pretty safe. But the person who loves you may not. A little thoughtful compromise in this department need not dampen the adventure. There is an element of risk in every adventure, of course, just as there is some risk in driving to work each day and massive risk in sitting in front of the TV for years until your heart packs in. The most epic adventures do entail danger. The most prolific adventurers are selfish. It’s up to you to decide where you and your trip are going to lie on that spectrum.
Your choice of expedition partner can be a cause of friction. This is usually for one of two reasons.
One: – your beloved thinks your expedition buddy is a Grade A lunatic who will get you into all sorts of scrapes.
Two: – your partner is jealous of your expedition partner, either because you spend waaaaay too much time chatting to each other about your impending adventure and which multi-fuel stove you should buy, or because your expedition partner is worryingly attractive.
Do your best to point out that on an expedition people are smelly, don’t change their pants for weeks, and are too tired to want to do anything except sleep when you squeeze into that too-snug tent in an evening after watching the beautiful sunset slip behind the mountains, just the two of you out there, away from the world, nobody within a thousand miles of you… Be aware that whatever you say will be construed as protesting too much. Of course, you can always suggest to your partner that they can solve this whole particular problem by coming along with you instead…
Finally, failing that, then you’re going to have to split up. You won’t have to endure Pizza Express couples’ evenings on Valentine’s Day ever again. You can do all the adventures that you dream of.
But don’t blame me when you’re out in the wild, freezing cold, deeply uncomfortable, starving, scared, stinking, lonely and you find yourself questioning the wisdom of your dramatic decision…
My new book, Grand Adventures, answers many questions such as this. It’s designed to help you dream big, plan quick, then go explore. There are also interviews and expertise from around 100 adventurers, plus masses of great photos to get you excited.
I would be extremely grateful if you bought a copy here today!
I would also be really thankful if you could share this link on social media with all your friends – http://amzn.to/20IMYDt. It honestly would help me far more than you realise.
Thank you so much!