After a rather depressing day, I kept my appointment with the Royal Geographical Society for a evening of networking with adventurers, expedition leaders and sponsors. Venko and Russell also joined for what became an invigorating evening of discussion, story telling and socialising. It’s just what I needed after feeling a great deal of wanderlust over the last few weeks. I had the opportunity to meet Al Humphreys; a man who I admire for his get-up-and-go attitude to life. He circumnavigated the world several years ago on a bicycle with only £7,000 in his bank. It took him 4 years to complete. He’s an inspiration and also the brains behind ‘micro-adventures’ to which I’ll speak more about later.
As the bell rang signalling guests to find a new partner to speak with, I become conscious of my story evolving each time I tell it. It becomes clearer and more forward thinking. At first I really had no idea why I had decided to join an Evening with Adventurers at the Royal Geographic Society other than to feel connected to people who, like me over a year ago, were about to embark on incredible an journey. Listening to their plans I felt the same rush of adrenaline I felt when I poured over a world map placing pins into each country I wanted to visit on my world tour. One man had recently recovered from cancer for the second time and decided to take 2 years to travel the world. Another couple were planning to cycle to New Zealand as part of their honeymoon. Several others were trying to launch their own adventure/sporting businesses. While my 2011 adventure seemed pale in comparison, these adventurers were still interested in hearing what I had to say. “Where would you recommend I visit in South East Asia?”, “Should I travel through China or India?”, “How did you finance your trip?”, “Why did you leave your job?”. I guess even the most hardened travellers still haven’t figured everything out and it felt great to share some of my experience and offer advice. One recurring question however was: ‘Why are you hear and what do you hope to take away from this meeting?’.
Travelling the world changes you. It is also incredibly addictive and I know I will not be able to spend more than a year without packing my backpack and going somewhere I’ve never been before. But the reality is we all have to come home one day. We all have to earn enough money so that we can continue to have these adventures. And not everyone has the time to aimlessly wonder ‘finding’ themselves. Like any drug however I need the fix; its now a part of me. I quickly come to the realisation that Al Humphreys has already coined a term that enables the ordinary city worker to have adventures every day. **’Micro-adventures’**. Be it a simple days trek or a weekend filled with kayaking, bouldering or zip-lining. It isn’t necessary to spend thousands of pounds on an expensive world trip. Europe is on our doorstep. Hostels and Guest Houses are cheap and you meet awesome people along the way. Bicycles are a brilliant mode of transport. Its all so accessible and satisfies the thirst until that day when you can happily leave on another long term expedition to a far flung corner of the world.
The bell rings once more and I meet a man planning a polar expedition. He kindly asks me whether I’d been on any expeditions myself and I launch into my story, but this time without any anxiety:
“I’m hear because I went travelling for over a year and had the time of my life. I’d very much like that to continue having adventures while holding down a steady a job. You are my inspiration”