Matt Prior — How Adventure Had An Impact On My Life

This is the tenth 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 feel free to contact me via www.mattprior.co.uk

It has put a massive smile on my face reading about other people’s adventures and how pushing themselves out of their comfort zone has affected them in such a positive way. Over the past few months I’ve been asked by various people to do one of these from my own point of view and although it is slightly unconventional, it’s only answering the same questions so I thought I’d give it a bash. There are many more of these to come from some really interesting people so stay tuned!

I won’t introduce myself here as that would be weird, but if this is the first time you’ve come across me, you can go to www.mattprior.co.uk for more info!


“Commit to something, put your balls on the line and then figure it out.”

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

Nomadic. The factories my dad worked at kept closing down so we moved around a lot. With that came the obvious: no long term friends, no real stability, always the new kid wherever I went etc. Apart from that it was fairly conventional, though we did live in a caravan at one point!

From a very young age I was always curious about interesting people and what makes us happy. Up to the age of about 17, I largely followed what society dictated was the “path to success and happiness” and tried to excel as much as possible in whatever I did. All the while I focused on my dream of being a Pilot in the RAF. I was always sporty and loved the outdoors but I still felt that the life I was living was conventional and predictable.


“From a very young age I was always curious about interesting people and what makes us happy.”

Exploring South America by motorbike

I kept returning to this “happy people” idea and trying to work out why certain people were happy and why others were not. I knew that even though I was doing everything I was “supposed to do” there was still something more. After a lot of talking, reading and research, I decided that having as many experiences as possible was the key! So I kept pushing myself and creating all the opportunities I could — at school, through university and into the military. I started to enjoy being out of my comfort zone and the benefits that brought.


“I knew that even though I was doing everything I was “supposed to do” there was more to life.”

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

I was drawn to the idea of adventure after various hardships (failure, death of friend/family, redundancy etc.) or when I felt I was stuck in a rut and knew things needed to change. Being a RAF Pilot was my goal since the age of 12, so when I failed to get in on the first attempt I didn’t know where to turn. I decided to get away and do something different and challenging, with the hope that I’d come back refreshed and refocussed. I worked hard and saved for over a year. Eventually I had enough to set off for Africa where I climbed mountains, slept under the stars, saw wild animals, met people who had never seen foreigners before and generally pushed myself out of my comfort zone as much as possible.


“I decided to get away and do something different and challenging, with the hope that I’d come back refreshed and refocussed.”

It worked a treat and I often go away for those reasons now. They show you what you’re actually capable of, not what you think you’re capable of. I realised I could go on these trips and not only have a great time and meet amazing people but also gain a lot in terms of personal development. The more I did, the more I pushed myself, the more I learned and the happier I became. It’s a cycle I haven’t been able to stop. That’s meant I have sacrificed other parts of my life to allow for adventures, but it’s all about choices at the end of the day!


“I realised I could go on these trips and not only have a great time and meet amazing people but also gain a lot in terms of personal development.”


“It’s all about choices at the end of the day!”

How has adventure impacted your life?

It’s had a HUGE impact and I’ve met some truly inspirational people. Everything I have experienced has largely formed how I live my life today.

Adventures constantly put things into perspective and show what’s really important in life (and what isn’t). They’ve allowed me to see how the world really works, not how we’re told it works and once you see this with your own eyes, you start to approach life in a different way. I’ve just come back from Botswana, and the local people we spent time with there have very simple, happy lives. Seeing that reminds me to keep this as a priority. Always simplify, cut the BS.


“Always simplify, cut the BS.”

India and the Himalayas in a rickshaw with a weeks notice

“They show you what you’re actually capable of, not what you think you’re capable of .”

As you see and do more around the world, you start to see possibilities and opportunities that others don’t. They’ve also shown me that what may initially seem impossible is doable and the more you do these things, the more you realise how this applies to everything in life.


“It has allowed me to lead a balanced, fulfilled life where I can travel the world, follow my dreams, push myself and meet all sorts of amazing people.”

What benefits has adventure brought specifically?

I recently did a presentation where I wanted to show the main benefits of adventure, it was only then did I realise how many there actually were!

The main thing to take away is that you can condense adversity and learning into a short amount of time whilst still having a laugh! It will affect all areas of your life, from your thought process, to how you approach things to how you interact with people to decision making etc — it is then that you realise the true power of these experiences.


“The main thing to take away is that you can condense adversity and learning into a short amount of time whilst still having a laugh!”

If you ask people about their life, what they really remember most are the experiences — not things. Even if someone’s experience is nothing special in your opinion, you can see in people’s eyes and the way they tell the story the effect it had on them. Imagine the cumulative effect if they did more and more.

Wild Elephant in Sri Lanka seen from inside a rickshaw on an adventure earlier this year.

“If you ask people about their life, what they really remember the most are the experiences — not things.”

Why would you suggest others should get involved?

I genuinely think it will change your life for the better. You can see that theme throughout the other interviews in this series. I believe in this to such an extent that I set up the Adventure Academy after several sleepless nights thinking about it. Since then I have been approached by all sorts of people who have been positively affected by adventure including professors who have connections with NASA through their research on this subject. At the highest level there is a huge interest in how and why these sorts of experiences impact people.

Matt actually met his fiance on an adventure driving a London Taxi around the world.

“I genuinely think it will change your life for the better.”

Do you think anyone could do what you do?

Put simply, yes (as long as they’re able to pass a Pilot medical, that’s the one uncontrollable factor). I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily easy and a lot of what I do involves a lot of behind the scenes work but ultimately, I think it’s available to almost everyone. You just have to believe in yourself and take the first step — which is usually the hardest. Once you go for these dreams, slowly and step by step, momentum takes over. You’ll be amazed how many people will help you along the way with whatever it is you’re trying to achieve.

A lot of us reading this are lucky to be born into a relatively affluent part of the world — you should use that opportunity as there’s millions out there who would literally die for the opportunities we have freely available, regardless of your background. (I went to public schools which weren’t the best and had very few opportunities in comparison to many others, but you can create them, you just need to look elsewhere!) It’s a shame it’s not explained more in our education system. It’s only when you see what the developing world is like that you realise how lucky we are to have been born in the countries we were.


“You’ll be amazed how many people will help you along the way with whatever it is you’re trying to achieve.”


“You just have to have some self belief and take the first step — which is usually the hardest.”

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

I’d say that most of this is in people’s heads and if you REALLY want to do something, there’s nearly always a way. The main excuses I hear are: time, money and family commitments. We all have to juggle these and in most cases, I think it depends where your priorities lie. (I do realise that there are cases where it is extremely hard, if not impossible eg. 24hr care for someone else, so this is more of a general comment.) I’m not saying adventures should be at the top of the list, because they shouldn’t but having a balance rather than the never-ending focus on money and excuses of why it’s “not possible” would be a good start.

One of the big things I have noticed is that making a change in your spending habits and lifestyle can make these opportunities far more likely. Even having one adventure for a short amount of time can make a world of difference in how you live your life. (And the shift in perspective it creates may save you money and time in the future, so look at it as an investment!) For a small risk in the grand scheme of things, there’s potentially a life changing reward.


One of the big things I have noticed is that making a change in your spending habits and lifestyle can make these opportunities far more likely.

Landslide in Laos while circumnavigating the world in a London Taxi

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.”

You have to take risks, otherwise you will remain stagnant. You know what’s going to happen if you don’t take risks, but if you did; doors can open, you meet new people, have new experiences, create new opportunities, it may even change yours and even other people’s lives for the better!

A lot of people take several decades or longer to learn big life lessons. I often refer to this list made by a nurse who for several years counselled thousands of dying people in their last days. It makes me commit to things and follow through when I have the doubts that we all naturally have. If all these people had these regrets, I’m fairly confident we’ll all have similar ones if we don’t do something about it.

There’s never a perfect time and if you wait for that, you’ll be waiting until the day you die. Even if you do absolutely nothing that raises an eyebrow with your life, you’ll still get criticised, so you may as well go for it!


“If all these people had these regrets, I’m fairly confident we’ll all have similar ones if we don’t do something about it.”

Attacking the “Ride-Ups” on Lake Baikal

“Even if you do absolutely nothing that raises an eyebrow with your life, you’ll still get criticised, so you may as well go for it!”

What’s next for you?

My main focus now is on the Adventure Academy which is designed to give people that opportunity to get into adventure and find out what they’re capable of in a challenging but safe environment. It’s ever evolving and I love being contacted by people with new suggestions and ideas. It’s actually turned out to be quite the adventure in itself! Because the courses are such small groups, I’m able to get to know everyone who comes along and so I’m really happy I’ve stuck to my guns on this!

Panoramic view of the volcanic landscape of Indonesia taken on the most recent Academy course

“Enjoy the benefits now rather than when it’s too late and all you can do is reflect on all those regrets you have.”

The bottom line for me is to use adventure to have a positive impact on people’s lives. This can only come from experience, which means you have to get out there and do it rather than just read about it, look at pictures or watch it on TV.

One of the hidden villages on the Matt Prior Adventure Academy

I have big plans for working with the top decision makers of the world and at the same time those who have had an unfortunate start in life or disadvantaged in some way. Ideally I’d like one to support the other so that everyone benefits.


“The bottom line for me is to use adventure to have a positive impact on people’s lives.”

Lauren smiling on one of the Matt Prior Adventure Academy courses

I know this was a little longer than some of the others but I’m so passionate about it, it’s hard to keep it all in!

To get in touch or follow my exploits online:
www.mattprior.co.uk

“For a small risk in the grand scheme of things, there’s potentially a life changing reward.”

Interested in your own adventure?

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

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Other Interviews:

Sean Conway
Sophie Radcliffe
Alastair Humphreys
Squash Falconer
Dave Cornthwaite
Anna McNuff
Chris Burkard
Lois Pryce
Chris Brisley
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