Shouting from my shed

Get the latest news, updates and happenings via my shed-based newsletter.

land rover kayak

In Praise of Petrol Power Adventure


I have never done a proper motorised adventure. My personal preference for adventure involves human-powered, physical and masochistic means of transport. If I’mm having fun, I often say, then I’mm on holiday not an adventure. But that’s certainly not to everyone’s taste. In fact, I can completely see why someone might say that it’s a pretty dumb way to operate! The machines I’mve driven, whether it’s skidoos in Siberia and Nunavut or Land Rovers in Iceland and Africa, have always been really fun.

I can also absolutely see the appeal of the freedom and fun of being out in the world with your own motorised transport. I’mve ridden on the roofs of crowded buses in the Philippines, hitch-hiked in a pick-up full of beer from South Africa to Victoria Falls, risked life and limb at the hands of lunatic bus drivers in India, China and the Andes. And I have had wonderful times hitch-hiking, through southern Europe or driving through the night to reach Lake Malawi in time for sunrise.

But with your own motorbike or car you are no longer at the mercy of vague bus schedules, railway pickpockets, or lunatic, sleep-deprived bus drivers and their hideous blasting pop music. Indeed, a man with a motorbike could argue to me very strongly that cycling round the world is a mere fool’s exercise compared to the fun and the freedom of zooming along with the warm wind in your face and all the world within your reach.

Your adventure might be by big motorbike, tiny tuk-tuk, a pizza delivery bike or a London taxi. But a few common threads run throughout most tales of motorised adventure: you can do a big journey like this on a relative budget, you do not need to be an expert mechanic (though it helps), you have total freedom to maraud across the planet, and it is a lot of fun. If journeys like this appeal, then I’md urge you to consider a motorised adventure of your own.

I enjoyed interviewing people for my new book about their adventures with cars and motorbikes, not least of all because I have never done a trip in that style. It’s always interesting to get a fresh perspective on the adventure world. One thing in particular shone through all of these tales: motorised adventures are a lot of fun! That alone is reason enough to get involved.

There is quite a cavalier approach to many of these journeys: – ‘˜find a really crap car and head East’ is Matt Prior’s advice. Matt drove to Mongolia in a £150 car. The detours, the breakdowns, the unexpected things: these are part of the appeal and help lead to all sorts of spontaneous adventures. Indeed I get the sense at times of a mischievous desire for things to go wrong. It is the grit in the oyster that makes a pearl, and perhaps heading out into the world in a crap car with little mechanical knowledge or planning is just a technique for gritting life’s oyster. The thirst for uncertainty, surprise, and unusual interactions is strong. Matt points out, ‘˜you never quite know what is going to happen next, who you’re going to bump into and how it will all evolve.’

The important thing only, as always, is just to go. Ant Goddard made the decision to drive thousands of miles round North America with his pregnant wife and infant son. They left ‘˜on a whim’ to see more of the country they lived in, with scant regard for destinations or detailed plans. Ant says, “You may feel like there are a lot of ‘˜what if’s’ preventing you doing something adventurous, but the scariest one in my mind has always been ‘˜what if I never go? What if I stay here forever?”

And, as Liam pertinently reminds us, ‘˜compared to all of the other stuff we do in life, this is actually one of the easiest things to do in life.’

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 – It honestly would help me far more than you realise.

Thank you so much!

Grand Adventures Cover


Read Comments

You might also like

No image found On Sunday night I am excited to go back to work on Monday morning – Living Adventurously 11 Jon Barton is the founder of Vertebrate Publishing. It sits at the very heart of British adventure writing and outdoor sports. Jon says that “we publish books to inspire adventure. It’s our rule that the only books we publish are […]...
No image found Inviting you on a Winter Microadventure It’s cold. It’s dark. I’m tired. I’m busy. I’ll do it later. It’s exciting. It’s memorable. I need a break. I’m always busy so it might as well be now. We can always look at things in two ways. As […]...
No image found Putting Restrictions in Place Enforces Creativity – Living Adventurously #5 Tommy Banks was the youngest chef in the world to be awarded a Michelin star. The Black Swan at Oldstead was rated the best restaurant in the world by TripAdvisor in 2017. As a connoisseur of banana sandwiches and dehydrated […]...


  1. I once, while cycling last year here in Chile, got overtaken silently by another cyclist. I then noticed that we were going uphill, and he wasn’t pedalling, and he was going faster than me. He stopped and I caught him up and had a chat to him, he had some kind of battery-powered electric motor on his bike. However it seemed to only be able to do 10pmh or 20mph, but it could go up hills.

    I think an ideal vehicle for travelling would be something like a bicycle or lightweight motorbike with a green power source that was capable equally of going along at 10mph on a cycle path, being wheeled along a pavement and into a hotel room. But also capable of whooshing along at 50mph for when you have really have had enough of say a long slog through a samey desert. And it would go along perfectly silently so you still hear the bird song, street noise, or whatever else. Oh and did I mention it should be quite cheap and widely available so easy to buy another one if stolen.



Post a Comment

HTML tags you can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Shouting from my shed

Get the latest news, updates and happenings via my shed-based newsletter.

© Copyright 2012 – 2016 Alastair Humphreys. All rights reserved.

Site design by JSummertonBuilt by Steve Perry Creative