Alastair Humphreys — How Adventure Had An Impact On My Life

This is the third of a whole series of interviews with all sorts of different people to show what effect adventure can have on your life. Initially, I will start with well established Adventurers and then we will branch out into people from all walks of life.

The aim is to show how even the smallest amount of adventure can impact your life no matter who you are or where you come from.

If you’d like to take part and have a good story with pictures, please contact me via www.mattprior.co.uk

Next up is Mr Alastair Humphreys! He is an adventurer, blogger, author and motivational speaker.

As well as expeditions such as cycling round the world, walking across India and rowing the Atlantic, Alastair was named as a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year for his pioneering work on the concept of microadventures, trying to encourage people to get outside, get out of their comfort zone, go somewhere they’ve never been. A microadventure is an adventure that is close to home, cheap, simple, short, and yet very effective.

Alastair has written seven books about his adventures. He is also a very well-regarded motivational speaker!


Please could you give us a quick run down on your life before adventure played a part:

It was very ordinary! I went to school and was pretty lazy, mediocre and watched a lot of TV. Then I went to uni, drank a lot of beer, watched even more TV, did even less work.


“I went to school and was pretty lazy, mediocre and watched a lot of TV. Then I went to uni, drank a lot of beer, watched even more TV, did even less work.”

How and why did you get involved in all of this?

I started to get excited about travelling the world and also I got into pushing myself physically hard. I joined the Officer Training Corps (OTC) and began to meet people who taught me about pushing myself hard, setting high standards and began to be surprised by what I was capable of. This made me want to push myself harder and see what else I might be able to do. I considered joining the Army to pursue these goals, but I was too much of a sarcastic joker and not really able to tolerate the bullshit side of forces life. So instead I climbed on my bike and set off on my own to see if I could cycle round the world. I didn’t really think that I could, but I was interested to see how far I might get before I gave up.


“I began to meet people who taught me about pushing myself hard, setting high standards and began to be surprised by what I was capable of.”

How has adventure impacted your life?

It has taught me about the world and myself. It has made me treasure time and all the privileged opportunities that I have simply by having been born healthy in a rich country. I feel a huge pressure on myself to make the most of that. Adventure has given me self confidence and shown me alternative ways to live life from those deemed normal by society. It’s made me love to work hard and to try new things. It’s been a lot of fun and has brought wonderful people into my life.

Adventure has also made me struggle to settle back into normal life. It has made me intolerant of whinging mediocrity and dissatisfied with what I am doing as I forever feel that I could be doing something harder or better. So it feels at times a mixture of a blessing and a curse. But a lot more of a blessing!


“Adventure has given me self confidence and shown me alternative ways to live life from those deemed normal by society.”


“It’s been a lot of fun and has brought wonderful people into my life.”

Why would you suggest others should get involved?

I’d only urge people who like the idea to try it — there are masses of people who think adventure is dumb and who can do loads of other cool stuff with their life.

But if people are tempted I would suggest that they give it a go. If you hate it you can always quit and go do something else — at least you’ll have settled the uncertainty. And whether you intend to just do one big adventure or to make it your life, you will make memories that you can carry with you for ever. Memories that are happy, memories to make you proud, memories that will guide your path through many other challenges in life. The experience of something like rowing across an ocean will help you almost every day in the years to come.


“The experience of something like rowing across an ocean will help you almost every day in the years to come.”


“You will make memories that you can carry with you for ever. Memories that are happy, memories to make you proud, memories that will guide your path through many other challenges in life.”

Do you think anyone could do what you do?

Yes! By ‘yes’ I mean that all of us who are lucky enough to be born in the free world, to be rich enough to have the leisure time to read this. I am a normal person. I’m not an athlete. I’m not very tough. I’m not a hard-nosed haggler. I’m just a normal guy who has chosen to do stuff that is not very normal.


“I am a normal person. I’m not an athlete. I’m not very tough. I’m not a hard-nosed haggler. I’m just a normal guy who has chosen to do stuff that is not very normal.”

What would you say are the main excuses for not doing this sort of stuff and how would you suggest people overcome them?

A lack of time, money and expertise. I suggest that people acknowledge they will never have all the time, money and expertise they dream of and just get on with squeezing the best adventures they can into the constraints of their real life. Start small, but make sure you get started.


“I suggest that people acknowledge they will never have all the time, money and expertise they dream of and just get on with squeezing the best adventures they can into the constraints of their real life.”

What’s next for you?

I want to get better at making films. I have come to love that creative side of what I do. I’ll keep banging the microadventure drum and writing books too — I really enjoy both of those.

A great interview with Al showing you don’t have to be a superhero to achieve even your wildest dreams, the key is to get started!

To get in touch with Alastair or follow his exploits online: http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/

“I’ve never looked back at a trip and regretted how much it cost. I have often looked back and regretted not taking a trip. If you want to do something and it feels important, find a way to pay for it. Make it happen.”

Interested in your own adventure?

Click here to find out more:
www.mpadventureacademy.com

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Other Interviews:

Sean Conway
Sophie Radcliffe
Squash Falconer
Dave Cornthwaite
Anna McNuff
Chris Burkard
Lois Pryce
Chris Brisley
Matt Prior

Jimmy White
Ian Packham
Travis Crozier
Paul Everitt
Shirine Taylor
Charlie Frew
Annie Ross
Ash Dykes
Emily Bell
Levison Wood
Roz Savage
Milo Zanecchia
Emily Penn