Over recent weeks and months I have listed all my favourite places for getting adventure ideas, described how to raise funds for an expedition or do one on the cheap, detailed how you plan the logistics of an expedition and explained why it might all be easier than you think.
But none of that matters a jot if your adventure never actually happens. The internet is littered with blogs for trips that never occurred and bars the world over are filled with stories of dreams unfulfilled.
This article aims to change that.
Below are a series of simple steps you can take to make sure that your adventure definitely happens. They won’t all be appropriate for everyone but make sure you at least read number eight.
How To Have An Adventure
This article is part of the ‘How To Have An Adventure’ series:
- Why having an adventure might be easier than you think
- How to have an adventure without any money
- Where to get ideas and inspiration for an adventure
- How to actually start planning the logistics of an expedition
- How to get sponsorship for your expedition
- The secret to making sure your expedition definitely happens
8 Ways to Guarantee Your Expedition Actually Happens
1. Tell somebody
Telling other people about your idea is a great way to commit yourself.
It used to be my favourite method. I would announce an idea to friends in the hope that they’d ridicule me if I never pulled them off, knowing that my own pride and stubborness would stop that from happening.
Equally, saying your idea out loud can be quite powerful and people’s reactions may spur you on. You might even get teammates or offers of support out of it.
I’d recommend telling people face to face rather than doing it on Facebook or similar. It’ll be much harder to get away with it that way.
2. Book the time off work
Don’t say “I’d love to do that one day” or “I’ll do it in the summer”, put it in your diary and book the time off work.
If you’re self employed stop taking on work for that period, tell people that you’re away on those dates (see #1 above) or make arrangements for someone to cover.
Your adventure will never happen if you don’t make the time for it and you won’t make the time for it if you don’t plan it in advance.
Putting it in your calendar and booking the time off are such simple, administrative tasks but they really work. They say the first step’s the hardest but this couldn’t be easier. You’ll keep seeing it pop up in your diary too, plus other people might ask where you’re off to and then you might just have to tell them…
3. Order a guide book
This one is so easy that I’d almost be offended if you didn’t do it before finishing this article: buy a guide book to the country you want to visit.
Getting a copy of Lonely Planet South America isn’t going to guarantee that you climb Aconcagua but it’s a step in the right direction and a pretty good place to start. You’ll no longer have the excuse of ‘I don’t know where to start’ or ‘I’m not sure if it’s possible to get to…’.
If nothing else, the cognitive dissonance might kick in: what kind of idiot buys a guide book for a country they’re never going to visit?
(And if you buy one from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com then I’ll get a few pence out of it too. Or, even better, buy one of my guidebooks then I might have enough to go on holiday too. Win win).
4. Set up a standing order
I love how boring this piece of advice is but it works: set up a standing order to take money out of your account every month/week/day so you build a war chest before you have a chance to fritter it away.
To fund our around-the-world trip, Laura and I each set up a standing order to remove £200 from our bank accounts the day after we got paid. If the money hadn’t come out straight after our salaries came in then we’d just have spent it on other stuff instead of living a little more frugally. We managed that for a year and it was enough to fund seven months of cycle touring each.
The numbers may be different for you but the principle will remain. We can all afford to put aside a little bit of money but we’re also all human and won’t do it unless there’s a system in place.
Alastair Humphreys advocates putting aside £20 a week so you’ve got a grand by the end of the year. I’m doing this and you should too. Change the currency and change the quantity if you want but DO IT NOW.
(Or combine two tips and order Al’s book Grand Adventures which has far more ideas than this short article)
5. (Don’t) set up a website
A bit like bragging about your idea down the pub so you’re publicly committed, you could also set up a website and tell the whole world.
It’s a good idea, in theory, and it might have some added bonuses like people being able to follow your progress and encourage you.
But websites take time to set up and you could be using that time to plan your trip and do all the other stuff on this list. Writing blog posts and putting stuff on Instagram can be very appealing but that’s partly because they’re so much easier than actually getting an expedition off the ground.
Don’t kid yourself into thinking that building a Twitter following is the same as planning an expedition.
When getting to the start line is the priority, skip the blog.
6. Book a flight
This step really is a sure fire way to guarantee your expedition sees the light of day: buy a plane ticket.
But I’ve not worked out the route yet! I’m not even sure it’s possible!
No one ever does and no one ever is.
You can spend months researching something and not find all of the answers. At some point you just need to bite the bullet. No one ever got anything important done without a deadline. Open your wallet and set yourself one.
Money is a great motivator and no one likes to lose it. If you commit a chunk of cash to booking a flight then you can be pretty sure that you’ll commit your time and yourself to the trip too.
(N.B. You can substitute buying a flight with a train fare / ferry ticket / tent / bike as appropriate)
7. The secret to really making sure it happens
It’s the title of the blog post and we’re almost done here but I’ve not even got to the secret yet. I’ve alluded to it above but not spelled it out. The big secret to making sure that your adventure actually happens is to do something.
There is no complicated process or insider trick. You just need to make a start.
It’s a statement of the obvious but it needs saying nonetheless: your adventure will not happen unless you make it.
It won’t happen by chance. The planets will never align and the perfect time will never arrive. YOU NEED TO DO SOMETHING.
Take a first step. Do something from this list or do something else. It doesn’t matter what as as long as it helps you get towards the start line and isn’t just procrastination: don’t spend ages setting up a blog if all you need to do is book a flight. Don’t just Google stuff if you already know what you need to know (see point #5 above).
If you’re serious about this then show it.
DO SOMETHING NOW.
8. And saving the best idea for last…
My final idea is the easiest one of all.
It will take you less than 30 seconds and you don’t even need to leave this website.
At the bottom of this article in capital letters are the words: ‘WHAT DO YOU THINK?’
Underneath them is a box with the words: ‘Enter your comment here…’
If you’ve got an idea that you want to make happen then put it in the comment box now. Share your idea here and let us cheer you on.
I dare you to be the first.
As someone who has just finished cycling across Europe for charity, I couldn’t agree more with the steps given here. It’s too easy to back down, too easy to be scared (understandably) and never set your foot out the door.
Tell someone and keep badgering on about it to them. The more people you tell, the more pressure you have to go and get on with. If you can, find a friend who may find it interesting as well. Tell them and keep on at them until they get on-board with the idea, then there’s half the organisation to do, someone to share the experience with, and someone to help you put your foot out the door (while you do the same for them!).
My wife and I plan to ride around North America for a year with our three young children.
Wow, that was fast! Thanks for sharing Dan. Sounds like quite the undertaking.
You might like The Database of Long Distance Cycle Journeys
Let me know if I can help with anything. If not, good luck and let us know how you get on!
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Me and my husband Peter are planning to cycle to China , starting in January. We have told our friends and set a date but whenever I tell anyone I think it sounds crazy and also impossible. They react with awe and a amazement and then I feel slightly embarrassed and say things like -we’ll we haven’t done it yet. I have nightmares that we,ll get as far as Vienna and feel so cold, miserable and tired that we will want to come home but can’t because people will think we are so amazing and we can’t let them down!!
There, I have confessed to my fears but I also want to say that I am very excited and would like to thank you Tim and Laura for all your inspiration, particularly at the cycle festival this year.
PS. We are calling our trip The Wall to Wall as we live near Hadrians Wall and will set off from there, and will try and reach the Great Wall of China.
Hey Christine, thanks for sharing your plan. I love the name!
I can definitely relate to the embarrassed feeling after telling people our plans. Once we’d set off, we usually just said we were cycling to whatever the next country was. (I wrote an article about it here).
Best of luck with the rest of your planning. It sounds like you’ve committed and that’s the hardest part!
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I am an expedition leader, but up until now have worked for other expedition companies – I now have a burning desire to set up my own company, and provide expeditions for women, particularly mothers who do not often give themselves the permission to go off on an adventure. I have a great idea, but find I’m stalling at the whole business venture side (possibly why I’ve always chosen to work for other people up until now!) I realise this may not be your forte, but if you know of anyone…. Any help gratefully received.
Thanks for the message. Sounds like a great idea.
What exactly is it that you’re stalling with? Finding customers and drumming up business, or the practicalities of setting up and running a business?
I’d be happy to help if I can. Perhaps easier to email me?
I love your idea and am really passionate at the moment about getting women inspired for the outdoors! You should join our female adventure group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/404494083232320/
I run a website called Love Her Wild and would really love to interview you and tell your story if you are interested. If you have set up the company I’d be happy to spread the word amongst our community :)
A friend and I want to ride from South East Asia back to Europe on horseback. As we are living in Cambodia we don’t need to buy a flight ticket to keep us going – but we bought the horses, which is an almost bigger engagement to the project. We are now contacting the different embassies in order to get more information about crossing borders with horses.
Buying horses is one hell of a commitment. Good effort!
Let me know if you have any problems getting information on the border crossings. If I rack my brains I’ll remember some people who have done similar things…
I’m planning a road trip up to the Arctic Circle from Kansas City. Because I’m driving I guess it isn’t much of an adventure, but it is about 3900 miles. I can hop on a plane and fly anywhere in the world, and I have, but it is a little bit like the curtain lowering and a quick scene change. There is no real sense of movement. Driving across land gives you a real sense of how big the world truly is. 800 Kilometers will be on unpaved road and it should be a good trip. Not the level of an expedition, but I’ll get to see Tundra and some animals the aren’t found elsewhere in the world.
Thanks for sharing your plans. A 4,000 mile drive to the Arctic sounds like one hell of an adventure to me!
I can relate to the ‘quick scene change’ of flying. It feels like teleporting and doesn’t give you time to appreciate the transition.
Best of luck with the journey.
I’m planning my Trans-Patagonia expedition which will be packrafting the whole geographic limits of Patagonia; from northern Nequén in Argentina via just east of Puerto Montt in Chile and Puerto Williams in the south below Ushuaia. A “cool” 8,000km, I will in the next few months be making contact with the National Parks authorities of both Chile and Argentina as well as their tourism and immigration authorities.
Writing proposals for charities to support and possible support/sponsorship is my next big ‘work’ – the route is as sorted as it will ever be haha
Thanks for having the resources here that I can always come back to and get some more fire and motivation again for the list of chores.
That’s quite an expedition Marcell! Thanks for sharing it. Best of luck and do let me know if I can help with anything.
I’m planning an around the world by Unicycle adventure starting in 2019. I had to learn to ride the bloody thing first. I still have a few skills to master (freemounting, gutters) but at least I’m up and riding now :)
Ed Pratt beat me to the start line, as he is currently on that journey, but after chatting with Sarah Outen recently, she suggested I pick some countries I’m interested in visiting, which might make the route different to Ed’s trip. I’m thinking a bit of free range riding through Mongolia over the Eastern side of my trip, but not locked into any route as yet.
I bought your cycle touring book and it’s been helpful, thanks :)
Thanks for sharing your plans. That’s a big idea!
Congratulations on getting started: I am sure that learning to ride one will have been the hard part. As anyone who has done a long bike trip will know, it’s not that hard once you’ve started.
Best of luck with your plans and do let me know if I can help with anything.
All the best,
My brother and I are planing on going to climb to the south of Chile for a month or more on december 2018, opening lots of new routes in a place called Cochamo ( also called the 2nd yosemite).
Thank you for all your tips and advices, a
Specially the ones about sponsorships.
Thanks Rodrigo. Climbing in southern Chile sounds ace. Have fun!
I have been wanting to see the National Parks for a long time. I am 69 years young. I have written out a progressively better route more than 8 times. I have a page on facebook and have done some free advertising on meetups. I have over 100 people that have expressed some level of interest. This is a budget adventure. We will camp for free most nights. I want 9 other participants to go with me. This is for safety and for more fun. Along the way we will cycle, camp, cook, eat, hike, and canoe. I have decided what specific camping areas we will stay each night. We will drive no more than 4 hours on driving days. That way even on the driving days we have about 4 hours for fun activities. Thanks for what you are doing.
Great plan Lee. I hope it goes well.
Totally agree with the advice above; I’m 54, 135kg but physically active. I’ve been mulling an idea for a life changing challenge for some time and this summer I told my wife of the desire. I have since come up with a proposal and have announced it to friends on a sports car forum, one has committed to join me for the whole adventure and others want to join for parts plus a commitment for a support vehicle. The more I talked about it the more real it very quickly became!
The idea is to train and work on weight and fitness to enable a sea kayak trip from Purfleet/Dartford, down the Thames, an assisted crossing of the Channel and to take the Somme canal into France, via the river and canal network to the Mediterranean and finish in St Tropez. A little over 1,000 miles of canoeing! It is planned for September 2020 and I have been amazed how quickly the planning has taken place, I haven’t canoed for around 25 years and my colleague has very little experience. First step is to get in some boats at a local club level and pool work and this (2019) summer to do some Scottish Island touring with an organised outfit. Plenty to do and massive hurdles to get over but life is for living not a practice!
Buy some cheap poster board and create a goal poster with pictures of what you want. Define as many details as you can, break it down into steps and post it where you will see it all the time. Start taking action because time is ticking and no one is going to do it for you.