I had the same problem a lot of people have. Adrenaline running through my soul, a constant yearning for adventure, the desperate need to get out at the weekend and break the monotonous bore of my 9 to 5... but no one to play with!
Phone calls to my friends would always be the same. ‘sorry we can’t, we’re saving for our wedding’; ‘we would but we’re getting ready for the new baby’; ‘I’d love to but I’ve got so much work on at the minute’. Blah blah blah!
There was no way I was going to settle for my friend’s life choices and live a ‘normal’ life, grow up, settle down , or any of the other ways you can phrase it, and so I plodded on, alone.
I travelled to Thailand to become PADI certified. I took a trip to Spain to learn to surf. I did many things over the years in an attempt to satisfy my hunger for danger and excitement but still it wasn’t enough. These trips weren’t adventures, they were holidays. The people I met were great but they didn’t inspire me in any way: they were tourists, not travellers. Every trip I took I kept being hit by the dreaded ‘single supplement’.
I was sure this couldn’t be the only option for solo adventurers, I was sure I couldn’t be the only one out there that was craving for more, so I kept searching, I kept hoping. I can’t remember exactly how Explorers Connect came to be in my life, I just know that it came in with a bang, like a solid lump of concrete, fixed in my life forever.
Searching through the ‘Find Team Mates’ section, I couldn’t read fast enough. Excitement began building in my stomach: it seemed too good to be true. Groups of quest seekers with the same problem as me, the same needs as me, listings upon listings of expeditions, festivals, jobs, challenges. I had found the Holy Grail of Adventure. I didn’t waste any time. I picked my first expedition, a 3000 mile road trip through Africa delivering new shoes to school kids. I called out to my mum with the news. ‘Mum, I’m going to Africa!’ I said with great determination. 'Yeah, OK darling’ she replied, not taking much notice.
I couldn’t wait to leave. I was packing my bag when my Mum enquired with a confused look on her face. She asked me where I was going. 'To Africa!', I said. She asked me when I was going. 'Saturday!', I said. Today was Thursday.
Realising I wasn’t messing around she suddenly began flapping. I understood her concern: I had nothing to go on but the ad I’d seen on Explorers Connect and a few emails from the host. I didn’t know these people, but I had faith in others. I followed my heart and I flew to Cape Town.
Before I knew it, I was in a VW camper touring five new countries. I was up close and personal with hippos. I was off the beaten track taking detours through forests. I was bungee jumping over Victoria Falls. Monkeys were in my tent stealing my Yorkshire Tea. Finally, I was on a real adventure, having the time of my life. I wasn't alone anymore, but with a group of travelling strangers who were now my friends.
I left Malawi three weeks later with my thrill flames fanned and a new sense of wanderlust in my eyes. It was fuel for my inner experience junkie and I was addicted, I wanted more. But that was OK. It was going to be easy now that I had the community of Explorers Connect to call on.
Soon after, I organised my own crazy charity team, driving 16,000 miles through 18 countries to Mongolia and back in Mum’s 15 year old matchbox (she gave me the car, finally accepting my fate as a Bond Girl). I used Explorers Connect to find some team mates and the response was unbelievable. Wanderers from all over the world, up for the challenge and ready to join in. The trip was a huge success. We made it to Mongolia in one piece and came back with a tale or two to tell about the kind of things that happen to you when you’re constantly on the road for three months.
That was back in 2015. Nowadays, I travel full time. I couldn’t even hazard a guess at the amount of the escapades I’ve been on, the miles I’ve covered or the number of amazing heroes and heroines I’ve met since then.
There is now no 9-5, no more disheartening phone calls, no more single supplements and Mum doesn’t worry as much. (Seriously, she doesn’t. When I was once detained for three days by the Police in Georgia, she just laughed!). It took many steps for me to get here, but if I trace it back, it all began with Explorers Connect. It reinstated my believe that for some of us this is a normal way of life and you don’t have to gun it alone.
If you’re an aspiring adventurer, no matter your age or your background, no matter what level of challenge your looking for, make sure Explorers Connect is high on your agenda. For me, it was the stepping stone to the life I’ve always wanted, the door to a lifetime of adventure and travel stories. And it can be for you too: there’s really no limits to where it might take you.