About the author

Tim Moss

Tim Moss has supported over 100 expeditions across all seven continents. He has climbed new mountains, crossed a desert on foot and recently cycled 13,000 miles around the world. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society London and a Guinness World Record Holder. He aims to encourage more people to live adventurously. Read more...


  1. 1

    Tom Allen

    This is an interesting point, which raises a few more:

    I don’t think that the exaggeration is that prevalent. It does exist, usually in competitive/commercial areas where exaggeration is used to make the expedition more news-worthy than the next guy so the sponsors will keep on sending in the cheques. But to me it looks like the home-grown adventure-expeditions whose blogs are increasing in quantity these days are fairly honestly portrayed – at least when they get going.

    The elite-expedition paradigm is a hangover from a bygone age of the imperialist man-against-nature mindset, as I suppose is the kind of media channel that laps it up. I think the shift at the moment is away from what you describe and towards the ‘anyone could do this’ tone, which let’s face it much more accurately reflects reality.

    There are still expeditions that are unquestionably the domain of elite athletes. Even if the elite athlete himself/herself is a product of mental determination to put in the hours of training – which anyone could muster given a good enough reason – more than of born talent, it’s not everyone who could walk out of their front door and drag a sled 500 miles to the North Pole in a month.

    And then there are those who let an achievement of the little guy – rags to riches – get the better of them, and use the pedestal to wallow in self-proclaimed glory. Thankfully that seems to be the exception to the rule.

    You’re right to put down these sentiments, and it’s encouraging to see that most of those expeditions and adventures which do have media output are choosing to hurdle the institutional barriers we’ve grown used to – the idea of the hero – and say it how it is.

  2. 2

    Tim Moss

    Hey Tom, I actually think exaggeration is so prevalent that it’s now almost expected when describing such trips: extreme this, daring that, facing such and such danger. It’s become the language of expeditions.

    Sometimes it’s warranted and most times it’s probably not done with ill-intent but more often than not it’s born of ego and risks being counter-productive to the goal of inspiring and motivating (in my humble opinion!).

  3. 3

    Tom Allen

    OK – I guess you have your finger more firmly on the pulse than I do! Granted, most of the ‘expeditions’ I keep tabs on are cycling ones. Being such human-centric journeys I guess they have a more humbling effect than those fulfilling fantasies of dominion over nature.

    For what it’s worth I’m definitely guilty of talking up my ‘Ride Earth’ project before I actually embarked upon it. Took a while to see what a misinformed tit I’d been…

  4. 4

    Tim Moss

    Don’t worry Tom, I did the same with all of my trips and half the stuff of this website is probably still the same!

  5. 5

    Garry Mac

    Very fair and considered piece, I noticed you’ve said “the most common purpose GIVEN for undertaking expeditions”, does that mean you feel the real reason and the given reason are not necessarily the same? I would say they rarely are; surely the main reason any of us undertake races, challenges or expeditions is born out of a selfish drive to achieve, compete or overcome? To take part in anything like this IS fundamentally selfish as, in most cases, it means prolonged periods of training, travelling and usually some considerable risk to our health which means putting the needs of friends, family and employers (where relevant) into a distant second place. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not intending to sound negative, quite the opposite, I think we all derive great motivation and inspiration from others pushing the limits and society (more than ever) needs explorers and logic-defying expeditions, I just reckon we should all be honest about why we get involved and what our driving force is. Just a thought..

  6. 6

    Tim Moss

    Hi Garry

    I said it was the purpose given because that’s what the websites say and, of course, it’s not for me to second guess whether the real motives differ (at least, not in this blog post!).

    The real reasons for undertaking expeditions is a whole debate in itself but if people want to use them as a motivational tool then, in my opinion, that would be better done by avoiding hyperbole.

  7. 7


    Couldn’t agree more. Great Post. I was thinking along these lines recently while reading the bio of an “adventure enthusiast” turned prolific adventure blogger. The Bio was thin on experience yet still ran to 400 or so words.

    @Tom, ditto talking up the hardships before leaving. Ditto feeling like a tit when I realised how do-able my “extra-ordinary” adventure actually was. We were accused of glossing over the hardships and difficulties at the end of a recent talk. People love daring do and tales of endurance and are a little disapointed sometimes if they don’t get them. It helps them to justify not doing adventures themselves which is the whole point of this post I guess; that exageration has a demotivating effect.

    But then who, really wants to motivate? Make money out of motivational speaking, get column inches from stated motivational intentions or raise money for a charity with a sacharine “can do” message, perhaps. But actually motivate? If it was that easy everyone would be doing it, then there’d be nothing to fundraise/profit/ get publicity from. There’d be nothing special about adventure. It would just be something that everyone “can do”.

    I have to row in with @Garry; “to inspire” and “motivate” should be translated “to impress” and “set oneself apart”. Apologies in advance for a sweeping statement but I don’t think anyone has ever honestly been motivated to do an expedition to prove to others what they can do, its usually far more self indulgent than that. Its usually, sorry, always, a case of proving something to yourself, or something about yourself to everyone else, but never about proving something about everyone else to everyone else (is that too complex a sentence?) Inspiring and Motivating has just become handy rhetoric for explaining the inexplicable and inevitible why? A trite one liner that jounralists can understand.

    So why the given reason to motivate others? Why not more honest answers of personal indulgence and straight up selfishness?

    Surely to just do it -because you can, because its there and because you want to is a more inspiring “can do” message?

  8. 8

    Andy Welch

    Hi Tim, I think this is an extremely important point and you have made it very well focussing on exactly the problem that expeditions which are presented in a way that is too spectacular, extreme, or romanticised mystifies the actual act of the experience itself and therefore makes it more difficult for people to get their head round actually doing their own. Because obviously part of doing your own trip is getting ideas from other people and knowing how to actually ‘do’ and humans tend to mimick others at first before finding their own way.
    I have decided that my future long term lies in travel, adventure, filming, writing, and helping others to do trips, and therefore this is important to me.
    However, I still think there is space for the spectacular adventure as long as it’s not romanticised in the communications- I think this is where the problem lies. But then I get the reality of the adventure is perhaps not always what people want to read, or PR people want etc etc etc. Nice to see this stuff being thought about though. Tim are you around in London to catch up?

  9. 9

    Andy Welch

    I think that the solution to this mystifying of adventure, spectacular nature, forced will to enjoy ‘because you can’, is to communicate to readers that this is not what it is to be an adventurer- ‘I am not what you think I am’- eg. I’m not some kind of super-human extreme being but rather I’m an average human etc etc and to report more accurately the reality of the expedition, in all it’s gory details, without any romanticisation. If you have to romanticise your trip to make it sound good then again you are mystifying things to others and yourself. I suppose in a way this is probably a return to a more old-fashioned way of reporting from expeditions like you might find in some obscure expedition reports in the rgs or something- I don’t know as I’m yet to have time to spend in the rgs reading old reports, but I would like to.

    Anyway a few thoughts there.

  10. 10

    Tim Moss

    Fearghal, thanks for the comment. I like your example of people being disappointed when you didn’t detail the hardships.

    But then you said that if adventure was that easy then everyone could do it and there would be nothing special about it. I would disagree with this. First, I would say that adventure is absolutely that easy in the sense that we are talking (i.e. doesn’t necessarily require training, hardship, money or daring). However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a special thing.

    If you mean special in the sense of unique, elite and only available to few then I would oppose that idea (that’s the point of this post and website in general!!) but it is certainly special in being able to offer different opportunities, experiences and learning to that which you get in other aspects of life.

    Easy? Yes. Special? No, in the sense of requiring a certain attributes to accomplish but yes in the sense of being wonderful.

  11. 11

    Tim Moss

    Andy, I think you are absolutely right about there still being space for spectacular adventures. That’s why Dan Martin and Ben Saunders’ plans excite me. But, even more so than the rest of them, such projects really do not need hyperbole to be impressive.

    You’re also right that the simple truth may not be what people want to read or be good for PR, that’s another debate I guess. But, if you say that you want to motivate people (and that’s a big IF) then the simple truth is what you should be adhering to, not the beck and call of the media.

    Back in the UK next week and keen to put a face to the name.

  12. 12


    Hi Andy, I like the way you’re thinking : )

    Tim, sorry I forgot to use the sarcasm font. I agree with you on “special” and “easy”. I was typing with my tongue firmly in cheek, apologies for not expressing myself properly. I also echo your point about big adventures like; walking the amazon, the global triathlon and South, they don’t need any augmentation they’re just straight up impressive. I can’t imagine taking on any of the three. Or having the audacity to imagine them either(shame on me). Maybe that should be an unwritten rule, that the more hyperbole you use to describe yourself or adventure then the less impressive either actually are, in and of, themselves?

  13. 13

    Tim Moss

    Ha! I should’ve known better Fearghal! Glad we’re singing from the same hymn sheet.

  14. 14

    Thomas Laussermair

    I agree: To motivate and inspire, keep it simple, authentic:
    Better self-deprecating humor than self-aggrandizing hype.

    If you have to tell me how cool your adventure was, it probably wasn’t!

    Cool trips speak for themselves.

  15. 15

    Alex Hibbert

    I think, as ever, whether a trip is personal and cheap or widely reported and corporately funded, honesty solves almost every issue.

    If a trip can’t sound impressive enough to get funding without overhyping or lying, it probably shouldn’t get funding. If your trip is for you – then you probably don’t care.

    So, a brutally tough, novel or creative trip should be reported honestly and get the funding it deserves. The repetitive or boring or easy trips can either be funded privately for the satisfaction of those onboard (which is fine) or just not happen if those involved will only go if a large bank pays (equally fine).

    Essentially, there needs to be a mutual and gradual stand-down so that all promotion becomes more realistic, then no-one loses out. Problem is, someone is always prepared to lie to get what they want.

  16. 16

    Ruben Rome

    I am reminded of this point time and time again, the more people I meet, and the more walks of life I seek to pursue. I think the beauty of this article, which many could be forgiven for overlooking, is that despite the context in which it was written, it is applicable to life on an infinite number of levels.

    It seems cliched to say that, but what’s not cliched is the experience behind your words. One of my all time favourite pieces.

    1. 16.1

      Tim Moss

      Thanks for the kind words Ruben!

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