Friday, April 29, 2016

A leap of faith. Destination Unknown.

Image Copyright Yoram Hen.

With this years Tour Divide attempt on the rocks I'm finding myself at a bit of a loose end and wondering what to do about it.
Of course I always have a long list of adventures simmering in the back of my mind and new ones get added all the time, so what to do?
It's also possible that I have reached a cross-roads in my life and there's no time like the present (is there?). I have some big decisions to make, or not. Do I maintain the status-quo and continue as is? I like my current lifestyle very much. Or do I begin a whole new adventure? I'm a little excited at the prospect of a new direction. I'm also quite scared by it.
Firstly I have the time consuming process of moving house to get through over the next few months so I'm fairly restricted by that, and my working life will be pretty chaotic until September. The compulsion to rush off on something big has to be temporarily tempered; something I'm not very good at. (I am, however, very good at procrastinating).
I have a few ideas swirling around in the back of my head for later in the year, maybe, and I'll just have to decide which one is most practical (or more likely which one is most fanciful).
My long-list contains such frivolous things as a bicycle tour through Central America, an exploration of The Azores (now that the budget airlines are flying there), a (bicycle) road trip through Holland, Denmark, and Sweden, and a particularly ambitious adventure taking in Ascension Island, St Helena, and Cape Town, involving a military flight from RAF Brize Norton and a short voyage on a Royal Mail ship; these however are unlikely to come in under budget.

Instead I'm going to try and spend a little spare time doing something I find equally as rewarding; and that is to try and inspire others to travel a little differently. Something akin to Alistair Humphreys' "Microadventures" project (but perhaps not quite as successfully).

I know of a few short trips and adventures already that I can write about and I'm going to research a few others too. I have quite a large American readership and so I apologise to you first because it will, for the time being at least, have a largely British and European slant to it.
I also want to strip away some misconceptions that many people have about adventurous travel and allay a few fears (like staying in hostels for example... heaven forbid). And also try and take away a few of the obstacles and barriers that people involuntarily put in the way and that prevent them from taking the plunge. 
I occasionally hear comments like "It's alright for you...", you know, ", kids, time, work, responsibility" etc etc. I actually have just the same issues as everyone else, it's all about managing those things and being prepared to make a few simple sacrifices. Anyone can do it. Anyone.

So what do I call this project? Should I go for something all encompassing and snappy? Alistair has already laid claim to the splendidly self-explanatory #Microadventures. 
#ChaseTheRainbow doesn't quite fit. Answers on a postcard please. 

I'm not suggesting that everyone becomes an habitual traveller either; it's just that I'd like to open up little bits of the world and encourage you to take the plunge, make it seem what it is - accessible. Travel - real travel - opens up your eyes, it changes you in a subtle but profound way, it makes you more open as a person and strips away your natural wariness. It has the most remarkable effect.
You know, one thing is certain, If we want to live in a better and more peaceful world then we need to understand it. Sending your children to university will give them an education (of sorts). Sending them on a gap-year to a culture the polar opposite of their own will give them insight, compassion, and understanding, that will change them, and the world we live in, forever. That is real education.

And here comes the real crux of the matter: Time & Money.

Cultural change and comfort zones. I'm not saying that you have to jump in all-guns-a-blazin' and take a big step, but to embark on an organic process all of your own to suit your circumstances. Step away from the idea of the big annual two weeks holiday, if you can, and break it up in to usable chunks or consider just one short and different trip each year. Use the time that you have more efficiently. I want to encourage you to do something different. I want to take you away from your annual binge on the Costa del Sol and show you that you can go away on a trip and come back with tangible memories, more than just an alcohol infused haze and a few Instagram snaps of your bright red tan lines. Now don't get me wrong, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, I've done it myself, but there is so much more to this glorious world and I want to share it; you can do an awful lot with three or four days. You don't need to stay in the comfort zone of all-inclusive resorts and prearranged entertainment packages. It is often so much more rewarding to do it yourself and in these days of internet wizardry it also very easy. 

The internet has revolutionised modern travel in the way that Thomas Cook did for the Victorians over a hundred years ago.
The emergence of budget airlines over the last decade or so has opened up almost infinite possibilities for short-haul/short-stay travel and lots of people have embraced it, me included. Couple this with easy access to budget accommodation and wide spread availability of local travel information and we have a platform to explore like never before.

Sage advice No1: Don't spend money on shit that you don't really need.

This is particularly empowering and perhaps the most difficult realignment. It is also a very powerful one because not only is it good for you it is good for our planet. I'm not suggesting radical austerity here, you don't need to survive on bowls of rice or wear second-hand underpants, nor do you need to raise crops and a pig; just decide what is really important and try not to be wasteful.

If we could go back to living the lifestyle of our Grandparents we could have an awful lot more for an awful lot less (with a modern slant though obviously, I'm not suggesting disconnecting the internet. I'm not a Luddite!)
Do just a little of this and you will have more than enough money for my little flights of fancy. I guarantee it.
Every time you think about making that compulsive purchase ask yourself "Do I really need this?" "Do I really need to spend £25 on this lovely garden ornament?" Then put it back on the shelf and look for a £25 flight on the internet instead. Step-One towards a memory. You might also be surprised how quickly your meagre bank balance can grow when you start putting things back.

One day, many years from now, you will be lying on your death-bed (it's true you know, even if we all think that we are going to be the only that never dies), and you won't be lying there thinking to yourself "I'm pleased I bought that garden ornament with all the overtime that I worked", You will lay there looking back upon your life and wondering about all the "what ifs". I guarantee that too.
But you can change it... Let's go on a journey together. 
Stick around and look out for upcoming posts.
Consume less, live more. And plant more trees.

#NewHorizons ?

You can read Part 1 here
Part 2 two here
Part 3 here

You can also follow Chase The Rainbow here:

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Consume less, live more. Plant more trees.

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