Jamie and I have been in Santiago for the last two weeks, slowly getting things in order for our journey north, by Whike, to the Atacama Desert.
With our departure time set for 3am on Wednesday April 2nd we settled up on the minor factors of prep, then headed to the airport late last night to pick up Ned, the CEO of Whike UK and, critically, the man equipped to build the Whikes.
That is, he would have been equipped had his bag not been lost somewhere between London and South America. An exhausted Ned appeared through the Arrivals gate, half happy to be here, half glum that some essential kit had been misplaced.
So, writing this at noon on April 1st (so you know I’m not joking), here’s the situation. They still don’t know where the bag is.
In it are tools essential to complete the assembly of our three Whikes, and although we could probably forage around the city to get round this problem, the spokes that ensure the integrity of the wheels will be harder to replace. Plus, our camping gear and other bits and bobs are also in the sack.
So, we may well have a delay. With only 20 days to ride on this journey each one is important, so we can only hope that the airline gods are kind to us.
For now, we’re going to do as much as we can to ensure we’re ready. Ned is starting to piece together the bits of the Whike puzzle. We’ve just wrestled the frames and spare pieces (total weight just under 100kg) down six floors and then a few hundred metres to a wider yard (as opposed to a snug box room).
We’ll call the airport every hour to see if the bag has materialised, but until it does, we’re staying in Santiago!
The Whike Atacama expedition begins on April 2nd (we hope)
And if you want to see what I’ve been up to before, this website is the best place to spend some time.
For a little while now I’ve been laying the groundwork for a project called 50 ways to make £50 and next week promises to properly kick the idea into action.
The concept was born from a desire to show that with a bit of open-mindedness one person can earn money in a variety of different ways.
In the event that you’re held back from changing jobs because of financial responsibilities, this project might give you some ideas, hope, and perhaps even a chuckle.
I plan on creating a short book from the project, and am still on the lookout for more £50 opportunities, so if you have any ideas or would even be willing to create a one-off job for me, I’ll do anything!
Having already ticked off Magazine Stacking, Fundraising Consulting, Giving a Talk in a Hurricane and Designing a Logo, next week I have a couple of new jobs lined up.
I’m going to be a Bootcamp Instructor near Bristol, with the abuse-ridden remit of getting everyone up to B.O.R.G Level 10. Which basically means, vomit.
And then I’ll be heading down to Plymouth to work as a Zoo Keeper for a day at Dartmoor Zoo, with the carnivores! Watch this space for a picture of me feeding a tiger (not with myself).
This is shaping up to be quite a fun summer. Here’s my Yes List for July through to September, featuring little adventures just waiting to be taken on, events I’m speaking at or attending, and other’s people journeys that I’m following and might just pop along to support at some stage.
Also, I’d like YOU to be involved in some of the below! There are options to take part in, attend or even have a big hand in some of the things in this list:
- Now until the 31st July: Special Delivery! To finalise my back rehabilitation and to train for a 72 hour football match in early August I’ll be riding a Boris Bike all over London delivering any London-based orders of my books / Say Yes More merchandise made through this link. Bike Helmet at the ready…!
- 22nd - Paperback launch for my third book, Life in the Slow Lane. Just a couple of days ago I received the proof for my third book, such a special moment to hold a solid paperback in hand for the first time. If you read it I really hope you enjoy, and I’d always appreciate some feedback on Amazon if you can spare the time.
- 24th - Speaking for Explorers Connect in Plymouth with Emily Penn. Em and I sailed across the Pacific together last year and have since done a few journeys independently. We’ll be mixing up the traditional speaking format by interviewing each other on stage. Tickets are £4.
- 25th - Following our event in Plymouth, it’s straight back to London where Emily Penn will be discussing her recent journey to the mid Pacific in London at one of the capital’s coolest venues - Bathtub 2 Boardroom. Details here.
- 27th - With a few friends including another Dave, who is responsible for BAMboo Clothing, we’re going to build an Old School Bamboo Raft and float down the Thames, with no prior boat-building experience whatsoever.
- 29th - I’ll be speaking at the Octopus Clinic this evening, to say thanks to the Osteopaths who’ve helped me get my back in working order following a damaged disc which caused me to pull out of my last journey. Come along for some tales of adventure!
- 1st - 4th - I’m taking part in a World Record Breaking Football Match, 72 hours of 5 aside in West London’s Westway Sports Centre. Having stayed awake for 72 hours non-stop in 2010 I know how much of a challenge this will be! Come along and support us, we’ll need every bit of encouragement we can get. The event is raising money for the Inspiring Futures: Uganda charity and I’m aiming to raise at least £350 through this page before the event starts, legs feel wobbly already!
- 5th - Explorers Connect London: This should be a great night. I’m speaking alongside the incredible Felicity Aston, who is one of only three people to ever walk across Antarctica. She’s the only one of those three who isn’t a Norwegian male, which gives you an idea of her calibre. Details here.
- 16-18 - Adventure Travel Film Festival: Can’t wait for this. I’ll be speaking and introducing a short film about my Missouri River swim, as well as hanging out with a cool group of people and camping in my hammock all weekend. Visit the website for tickets and details.
- 16th - The Night of Adventure Series for Hope & Homes for Children has been running for a few years now, since its inception by Alastair Humphreys. Featuring a sweat-inducing format involving each speakers 20 slides move on automatically after just 20 seconds, it’s an inspiring event worthy of its venue in Leicester Square’s VUE cinema. I’m honoured to be hosting the night, too.
- 19th - I’m speaking in Bristol for lifecycle.org.uk, come along!
Other projects, adventures and opportunities
- For the duration of the Summer I’m continuing a project I briefly flirted with last year. It’s called 50-50, or more specifically, 50 ways to make £50. I’ll be writing a book about the project and am on the lookout for weird, wonderful and downright horrible ways to make 50 quid. If you have a job for me, let me know!
- My friend Sean Conway is currently moving his way up the coast in an attempt to be the first person to swim the length of Britain. I’ll be chasing him down at some point to join the team for a few days of coastal shenanigans.
- Building a team: for a few years I’ve run an Internship for anyone who wants to dip their fingers into a world of adventure. Many of my interns have gone on to do their own adventures, write their own books and generally take life by the horns. I’m starting to build a new team and am on the lookout for anyone who wants to get involved with all kinds of projects, from expedition organisation to website development and growing Say Yes More into a globe-conquering inspiration machine. Whatever your personal skills are, if you’re open-minded and on the lookout for a new challenge, this could be for you.
Last weekend I was invited to be a guest on the CBBC Saturday morning wildlife programme, aptly named WILD.
Much like it’s predecessor Live n’Deadly - which I guested on in late 2011 and ended up having a crazy Coracle race with Steve Backshall (see below) - any guest on WILD has to demonstrate one of their skills, or expertise. And so it was that out of a dusty cupboard came the Aquaskipper, something I haven’t ridden for four years.
Steve is no longer involved with show but much of the crew is the same. Two days of prep is necessary before the show airs live for an hour on Saturday morning. It’s an incredible atmosphere, with everyone running about with cameras and clipboards and radio mics and…in the case of last weekend’s show in Hunstanton, a giant sea eagle, a windsurfer, and an Aquaskipper.
There are three presenters on WILD. Naomi Wilkinson is the sole survivor from Live n’Deadly, then there’s the lively former pro snowboarder Tim Warwood, and another face I’m sure you’ll be seeing on the telly a lot more in years to come, Radzi!
I was keen to both get back on an Aquaskipper in order to make sure I could still do it before I faceplanted during a live show, and also to do some exercise, period! I’ve been resting and restless since injuring a disc in my back in early June, during my last expedition - crossing Europe on an ElliptiGO, so it was great to get active again.
The Aquaskipper is one of the hardest contraptions in the world to master, it sure took me a long time. I’ve taught a few people to do it in the past but almost certain hilarity is the by-product of a TV presenter during a live show trying the Skipper for the first time. Tim Warwood doesn’t mind a challenge, though, and did pretty well considering! Check out the clip from my appearance, below. Getting the timing right on a live show is super important so thankfully it all came out well!
Big thanks to everyone on WILD, the other guest, pro windsurfer Andy ‘Bubble’ Chambers, and to Nick Meads at Aquaskipper UK, for loaning two Skippers for the show.
> Find out about my other adventures on my website…
If you are planning an expedition for nothing but soul food and have no care about sharing on social media, fundraising for a charity or offering some realtime return for any sponsors you might have, there’s no need to read this!
We live in a wonderful age where communication possibilities are instant, and story sharing from an adventure can happen in so many forms. Video, images, text and/ or a combination of all three can enable the painting of a vivid picture across the globe.
There are no definitive ways to properly promote and share an expedition, so instead below are some ideas for you to pick and choose from.
- Website: your website is an online brochure for your project, the first go-to for anyone interested in your project
- Facebook: whether you’re using interactive capabilities with external apps or adding content straight onto Facebook, the spread of potential followers is undeniable. Note: if you have a personal Facebook page and another expedition/ adventure/ event page try not to double-up on content
- Twitter: it’s great practice tightening up your story telling into 140 characters or less. A quick, easy way to spread the word and develop a follow. If you still can’t get your mind around Twitter, try using a social media desktop like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite.
- Blog: If writing is more your thing you might want to take a more bloggy approach. Wordpress is a popular option (and can also double up as your full website). Tumblr is a less complicated option for the casual blogger.
- Instagram: a lovely way to make your photos look better than a simple press of the button can.
- Punkt: a new, interactive social media mapping app designed with adventures in mind. Share video, images and text and have a GPS-marked content button display your position as well as what happened where. If you’re travelling in an area with good data connectivity then Punkt can replace the location aspects of other GPS trackers, like SPOT.
eg. Here’s the Punkt for my upcoming adventure with Squash Falconer.
eg2. And here’s one from a full expedition, where Leon McCarron and Rob Lilwall walked across Asia.
As effective as social media is nothing is quite as good as meeting people face to face. Ensure that your meeting plants some roots and carry something to give to everyone you meet, so they can follow up on your internet links, go to your charity donation page, and get in touch with you.
If you’re trying to keep things light, I recommend Moo Minicards. Half the size of normal business cards they allow a different image on every single card, giving a great first impression. Get 10% off your first order with Moo by clicking here
If you are able to construct a sweet PR machine around your expedition, the results could be unbeatable. This isn’t easy. A well-timed and well-written tweet could reach more people than a feature in the Times, but if you work on a trickle-up effect media coverage could boost your following.
Start on locals. Newspapers, radio and TV. As soon as you start appearing in ‘little’ publications, bigger ones might take notice especially if you have a good, positive message alongside a unique venture.
Specialist media is worth focusing on. For example, on my upcoming ElliptiGO trek magazines like Outdoor Fitness and Runners World are perfect fits for the story. Remember though, these publications often compile content up to 8 months ahead of release. Make sure you get in early.
Media releases: a short, concise press release with a well-taken illustrative image attached can make the difference. Make a good first impression, edge out waffle, add contact details.
Find a contact: Writing to a real life person rather than the generic news gathering address on a website will get you brownie points. Show you care about being featured and you’ll be given more time.
This largely depends on the location of your expedition. If remote, you may need a Sat Phone unit with a laptop link-up and perhaps a SPOT tracker to show your progress and position, both for sharing and emergency purposes.
If you’ll have cell signal regularly and deem this to be sufficient for your communication needs, then a smartphone for mobile updates should be enough. A small laptop will give you more scope for content creation and video editing. (I use an Apple MacBook Pro 13”, a good balance of light weight and function.)
Ultimately, your first port of call should be to understand your strengths and how you want to use them to promote your expedition. If you’re lacking a vital skillset like copywriting or video editing consider seeking help from someone who can do what you can’t.
Always do what you feel is right and works works for you, rather than just doing what others do because you think that’s the norm. There is NO norm!
Apologies for the unexpected two-day delay for this post, the fourth in this ‘making an expedition happen’ series. It’s been a busy week, my next journey begins in just three days so last-minute tweaks and admin naturally fills the time. Then throw in the launch of my 3rd book and it adds to the to do list!
It’s all part of the process, though. When you’re planning an expedition you have to be prepared to be flexible. Delays are okay, as long as you know your priorities. The key is to make sure everything is done well, then you can’t ask for much more.
Expeditions are just like icebergs; it might seem like the hard work is done on the move but in actual fact about 80% of the work is below the surface and happens before the official start line.
Planning an expedition requires patience, dedication, the ability to deal with rejection and disappointment and the grit to carry right on through until it’s done. Sounds like an expedition already, doesn’t it?!
However hard the planning phase is, let’s try to make it as easy as possible and break it down into manageable chunks. Here’s a step by step process:
1) The idea: this is the golden nugget, the eureka moment. You usually know that you have the right idea because your heart starts beating very fast and suddenly you become filled with passion and a certainty that you’ve discovered a purpose. And you want to tell everyone.
2) Make a list: it sounds simple, but I’ve seen some brilliant projects fall apart because the protagonists don’t plan sensibly. You have your idea already, adding to it by making a list of everything you a) need & b) need to do gives the concept some tangibility. Then, start ticking off items from the list - once you’ve done them all you’re ready to go!
3) Pad out your project and build a website or blog: personally, as soon as I’ve had the original idea for an expedition I’ll grow that seed by slowly building a mini website. Suddenly you see the project coming together before you, it’s a marvellous way to clarify everything (with the extra added incentive of being able to add extra content to your pretty idea as soon as the journey starts.) If you’re devoid of web skills never fear - try www.moonfruit.com, a drag and drop website creator that my 4 year-old nephew could master with his eyes shut.
4) Manage your time: you’re not going to get anywhere special without focus. Commit to your project, don’t waste time faffing about on Facebook or Twitter unless it’s related to your project aims. Use your time wisely and do do do.
5) Be realistic with timescale and budget: don’t rush this, it’s important. You need time to get the money together. To prepare, develop skills and promote. Don’t be a cheapskate but don’t go overboard with your budget, either. Look at the list you made after No. 2) and research how much each item/ service will cost as accurately as possible.
6) Be creative: this bit is exciting. You have your own project and you can make it unique. Sure, take into account what other people have done but make your work your own. Be original.
7) Talk about your project: vocalising your aims is a surefire way to get constructive feedback, to find people who can help you out and, of course, as soon as you start telling people what you’re up to it’s extra incentive to make sure you actually do it!
8) Work hard and take responsibility: this is your moment to shine. Work hard and you’ll increase your chances of success. You’re the one responsible at all times because this is your project. Sometimes people will let you down but you’re the one who brought them onboard (in whatever capacity) in the first place. If you have to take a step backwards, step forwards quickly, stronger than before.
Finally, get the balance right between planning effectively and over-planning. It’s possible to prepare TOO much, leaving no life for your expedition to breathe. Remember, adventures are supposed to be uncertain times. Allow yourself to wake up not knowing where you’re going to sleep the next night. Allow yourself some freedom, but plan to ensure you meet your objectives and, importantly,so you can avoid danger as much as possible.
This is the fourth part of a series of blogs about making expeditions happen. Here are the previous ones.
Tomorrow’s blog will discuss how to successfully promote your expedition.
Unless you’re thinking about heading to the South Pole or rowing across an ocean there’s a good chance that your expedition isn’t going to cost as much as you originally think. This understood, whatever you choose to do it’s still going to cost something. So how do you pay for it?
1. Do your research, and get real
I earn a fraction of what I once earned when I had a ‘proper’ job, but in all other aspects I’m deemed to be a successful adventurer. You can spot a person who still assumes success occupies the same space as money a mile off, and you wouldn’t believe how many times strangers ask me for financial assistance so they can fund their expedition. I admire the pluck of someone not afraid to ask, but the lack of research and naivete is a sure fire way to separate adults from children (a non-gender specific way of saying ‘men from boys’.)
First of all, let’s work out what you want from this expedition. If you are hoping to build a career in adventure you’ll probably play things differently from someone who is organising a one-off expedition, so for the purposes of this guide I’m going to try and provide answers for both scenarios.
You can spot a person who still assumes success
occupies the same space as money a mile off
2: Avoid debt
Adventure is appealing because of the benefits it offers. It provides a combination of physical endurance and constant endorphins, with challenges you wouldn’t dream of facing at home, with the eventual competition of a project you had to work damn hard at creating, organising and executing.
However wonderful it feels to reach the finish line of your expedition, if you’ve put yourself in a position where you have to go and pay off your debts it will leave a slightly sour taste and that grizzly - back to work I go - feeling’.
Earn your experience - In addition, you will get the greatest benefit and reward from your adventure if you’ve earned your experience ahead of time. Hard as your venture might still be, anyone can take out a loan or borrow money from a friend then cycle, climb or paddle a long way - eating the cream without considering the cake isn’t quite as good for you as it feels at the time.
anyone can take out a loan or borrow money from
a friend then cycle, climb or paddle a long way
3. Budget sensibly, give yourself a chance
Several expeditions fail each year because they were too expensive from the offset. Whether this is because the project was chosen ambitiously or the budget was eagerly overcooked, as soon as an adventure becomes too expensive the pressure of covering costs can put off potential sponsors and override the excitement of pursuing a dream - especially if you can’t reach your budget and then have to pull the plug.
4. Take time to save
There are plenty of ways to cover expedition costs but the obvious one is with your own money. Do a bit of wax-on, wax-off; the plod of working hard and saving a pot of money teaches discipline, value and simplicity (you need to save money, you don’t buy unnecessary stuff), all lessons that will prove vital for your mindset once your adventure begins for real.
5. Don’t expect a charity to pay for your expedition
If you’ve chosen to support a charity through your endeavours it might be a little counter productive for you to expect them to commit time, resources and money towards your venture, when they clearly have better things to be doing.
Draw a thick line between the costs of your expedition and the funds you’re raising for charity, and do not cross that line. This will maintain the purity of both your charitable work and your expedition.
(In rare cases, a charity might offer support in return for you pledging that you’ll raise a certain amount for them - similar to a marathon agreement. But let the charity make this offer, rather than you pushing for it)
There can be an assumption that expeditions are all paid for by sponsors, but this is rarely the case. Unless you get lucky or already work for a company who can financially assist you it’s best to set your sights on getting your expedition set up via a mixture of guile, research, determination and passion.
If you see sponsorship as something to be earned rather than expected, your life will become a whole lot easier. Tomorrow, I’ll discuss the ins and outs of sponsorship, what to expect and how to go about finding support for your mission.