Silvercore Podcast Ep. 118: Micro Adventures and Inspiring Journeys with Alastair HumphreysJoin adventurer Alastair Humphreys on the Silvercore Podcast as he takes us on a thrilling exploration of micro adventures and inspiring journeys. From walking across Iceland to cycling around the world, Alastair shares his earliest memories of adventure and what drives him to push boundaries. Discover the transformative power of solo travel, the importance of teamwork in extreme challenges, and how to embark on your own micro adventure closer to home. Get ready to be inspired and embrace the magic of exploration. Tune in now!
Silvercore Podcast 118 Alastair Humphreys
[00:00:00] Travis Bader: I'm Travis Bader, and this is the Silvercore podcast. Silvercore has been providing its members with the skills and knowledge necessary to be confident and proficient in the outdoors for over 20 years. And we make it easier for people to deepen their connection to the natural world. If you enjoy the positive and educational content.
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[00:00:52] Travis Bader: Today, I'm joined by an adventurer, not just any adventurer, but someone who National Geographic has named adventurer of the year. He's walked across Iceland. He's walked across India. He rode across the Atlantic unsupported for 45 days from Spain to Barbados. And he spent four years cycling across the world.
[00:01:12] Travis Bader: He is the author of numerous books, including his most recent, Local. He is extremely passionate about encouraging people to search closer than ever before to their homes for nature and wilderness to embark on micro adventures. Welcome to the Silvercore podcast, Alistair Humphreys.
[00:01:31] Alastair Humphreys: Thank you very much for having me.
[00:01:32] Travis Bader: You have quite the list of accolades behind your name. Your books that you've written are inspiring. They get people outside and they do so in a really accessible way, but I really, really want to talk about micro adventures. I want to talk about your new book, but I think I would be absolutely remiss if we didn't touch on a little bit about you and kind of what got you into these grand adventures and what's been pushing you into the term that you coined micro adventures.
[00:02:02] Travis Bader: So if we're going to look back a little bit, what's your earliest memory of an adventure that you've been on?
[00:02:12] Alastair Humphreys: Oh, um, I grew up in, um, a lovely part of Northern England called the Yorkshire Dales. It's very beautiful little country sides of landscape. And I was quite lucky that the school I went to, say when I was about nine or ten years old, they forced the entire school, I'm sure this would be highly illegal these days, but they forced the whole school to go and walk this, um, 26 mile mountain challenge, the three peaks of Yorkshire.
[00:02:39] Alastair Humphreys: So that's what. About 40 miles walking around the countryside over some hills. Uh, it was, and you had to do it in under 12 hours to get a t shirt. And I was so proud of that t shirt. So that was my, that was my first adventure, but you know, everyone in my school was doing it. So it wasn't that I was some sort of crazy adventure guy.
[00:02:56] Alastair Humphreys: It was just that I was lucky to grow up in the countryside and my school made us do stuff like that, I guess. So, um, yeah, that's my first real adventure, I think.
[00:03:05] Travis Bader: Yorkshire, beautiful countryside, beautiful puddings, uh, what, James Cook. He's from your, he's one of your countrymen there from Yorkshire, isn't he?
[00:03:14] Travis Bader: Grand Explorer. Yep. Amy Johnson, Amy Johnson. You know about her?
[00:03:20] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah. Good, good Yorkshire knowledge. There
[00:03:23] Travis Bader: you go. I, I liked it over there is, uh, just a beautiful area that, uh, what did she do? She flew from England to Australia. She was the first person to
[00:03:33] Alastair Humphreys: do that. Yeah,
[00:03:36] Travis Bader: yeah, that's a pretty adventurous. So I, you know, what, what is it that drives you?
[00:03:44] Travis Bader: What was it that drove you to go out on these massive grand expeditions that took tons of planning and arguably put your life in, in harm's way. What, what was it that was inside you that was sparking that, that desire?
[00:04:03] Alastair Humphreys: So I, I didn't really do anything particularly adventurous as a kid, um, beyond school camping type trips.
[00:04:11] Alastair Humphreys: So it was only really when I got to university that a couple of things happened to me. Um, one, we have like the, the reserve army in Britain that's, um, basically a weekend army, essentially. And I joined that, uh, mostly because the beer was really cheap and you got paid money to run around the hills. And I had, I had no interest in the guns at all, but I really enjoyed running around the hills.
[00:04:34] Alastair Humphreys: And that was the first time in my life that I'd got quite a a buzz out of being pushed really hard and setting high standards and working hard to try and meet those high standards. So I got interested in that sort of physical side of challenging myself in a way that I'd never done before. And then simultaneously to that at university, when I should have been studying, uh, I was mostly reading or when I wasn't drinking beer, I was mostly reading books about travel and adventure and explorers.
[00:05:02] Alastair Humphreys: And I loved all of these things. And those two worlds collided really, uh, getting me just thinking. Wow, I really want to set myself a huge, physical, difficult challenge, um, and I really want to go see the world, all these amazing places that I've been reading about. There must be exciting places beyond the shores of Britain.
[00:05:21] Alastair Humphreys: Let's go have a look at it. Um, but Like a lot of young people, I didn't have a huge amount of money, uh, but I had plenty of time. And so I decided to go around the world by bicycle. It was a, it's cheap, it's simple, it's painful, it's slow, it's difficult. It's a brilliant way to see wild places and to talk and communicate with communities and families and individuals who meet along the way, and still after all the adventuring I've done, I haven't yet found a better way to travel than to put a tent on the back of a bicycle and see how far you can get.
[00:05:52] Alastair Humphreys: So yeah, it was a combination of curiosity and wanting to travel, like a lot of young people, plus a drive to try to prove something to myself in some sort of tough, challenging way.
[00:06:04] Travis Bader: No kidding. Well, when I look at it, so when you say I can't think of a better way than to throw a tent on the back of a bicycle and travel around, I got to imagine, uh, meeting people all over the world, different communities, uh, learning about cultures that are completely foreign to your own and just opening yourself up to an environment that, and situations and, and adventures that you might not normally see will just sit around.
[00:06:34] Travis Bader: Sitting on the couch at home for sure. But that's a very different adventure than getting into a rowboat with a couple of your mates and rowing across the Atlantic. So one, I would think there's a very, um, social side to it. And the other one's going to be correct me if I'm wrong, but dogged determination and your social network is now going to be those few people on that rowboat with you.
[00:07:03] Travis Bader: Does that sound about an accurate description?
[00:07:06] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah, very much so. And so after I'd, after I'd gone around the world, I started to start seeking out different kinds of adventurous experience. So hot places, cold places, desert, dry places, oceans, wet places. So trying to get a variety of, uh, environmental experiences, but also traveling in different ways.
[00:07:26] Alastair Humphreys: So by foot or, uh, on skis, pulling a sled or on a rowing boat. So getting different kinds of adventures. And then. The third thing is also trying to mix up doing journeys by yourself, um, versus doing them with other people. There are pros and cons to traveling alone and traveling with other people. And yeah, traveling around the world was very much, I was on my own, but it was a shared social experience of every day.
[00:07:52] Alastair Humphreys: I was. buying bread from the village shop or asking someone for directions or, um, and so on. So it was always a conversational type experience, um, interspersed with areas of remote wilderness. Rowing the Atlantic was just me and three other guys and nothing for 3, 000 miles, um, of empty ocean. So that really became an exercise, as you say, in dogged determination, but also it's very much a.
[00:08:19] Alastair Humphreys: human interaction of how do we work together to get the best out of each other? And frankly, to not want to kill each other. And how do I behave so that these guys don't want to kill me as well. So, um, I've really enjoyed, I mean, traveling by yourself is fantastic for your self self development, your self confidence for knowing yourself, the good sides and the bad sides, but you can also become a bit of a selfish.
[00:08:45] Alastair Humphreys: Idiot by just doing that. So traveling with other people is a really good way of remembering to be kind, to offer kindness and, and to accept kindness. If someone said to me on the rowing boat, Al, you're looking a bit tired today. My natural macho instinct is to say, I'm not tired. Look how tough I am. I'm going to row until I drop, which is just dumb and far more sensible.
[00:09:08] Alastair Humphreys: But I personally find much harder is to say, thank you. Thank you for your kindness. I am struggling right now and I'll accept your help and I'll pay that back to you at some point. So it's very, they're very different experiences traveling alone and with other people. And, but I think both of them teach you a lot about yourself and about the world.
[00:09:26] Travis Bader: Yeah, that was, that was a, uh, a lesson I learned. I wish I could say I learned it early in life, but I didn't, the, uh, the whole macho, I'm tough, I can move on. I can keep going really. If you've got a large objective that you're trying to meet. Being able to pace yourself properly and just give it your all every single day, as opposed to 110 percent or 120 percent and burning out in a couple of days.
[00:09:53] Travis Bader: Yeah, that was, um, I remember I was, uh, in hiking some hills over here with a good friend of mine, he's a ex British army and his approach. I'm looking at this guy, like he did SAS selection a couple of times, and he was about a day away from getting badged when he got, uh, injured. On, uh, on one of his attempts there, but, uh, he's like, okay, yeah, no, let's, let's get some food and that's okay.
[00:10:18] Travis Bader: Let's have a tea. Okay. Let's make sure we got our jackets on. I'm like, what is this guy? I thought we're supposed to be tough here. Right. But we were comfortable and where everybody else was, uh, knackered on the side, uh, fallen out, we just kept going and going, and we just had a. Pace that we can maintain day after day.
[00:10:37] Travis Bader: And so that, that little piece of, of a life lesson, life lesson, I learned very late in life, but what a crucial one, if you really want to achieve more.
[00:10:48] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah. And any idiots can be uncomfortable, right?
[00:10:51] Travis Bader: Mm hmm. Yeah, totally. So what advice would you give to somebody who, let's say, and I know I really want to talk about micro adventures, but I, I got to, I got to get some of the bigger adventures out of the way.
[00:11:02] Travis Bader: If somebody wanted to embark on one of these two very different types of adventures, let's say the, uh, rowing across the Atlantic. I, I think I read somewhere that you guys didn't bicker there. There wasn't any fights, which I find unfathomable spending 45 days with other people on a boat in these conditions.
[00:11:21] Travis Bader: But, uh, what advice would you give to someone who wanted to embark on an adventure like that?
[00:11:28] Alastair Humphreys: Well, probably my, my semi serious advice would be don't go do the ocean row. Um, it's, uh, It's an extremely expensive way to have an adventure, extremely logistically complicated and a bit of a hassle and you, and you could spend the money much more, um, much better I think by just getting on your bicycle and pedaling away from your front door or just putting your backpack on and walking out of your front door and just setting off Forrest Gump type style.
[00:12:00] Alastair Humphreys: I think, I think it's. Especially for younger people to consider how much money you have available and how you can best spread that into a long adventure. So I didn't have very much money for cycling around the world, but I just made it last a really long time by living an extremely basic life essentially eating just.
[00:12:21] Alastair Humphreys: instant noodles and banana sandwiches for four years. Um, which was, you know, sometimes it's tough, but, or I could have gone to Vegas for a week and, uh, drunk champagne for a week. So it's a kind of a choice of, of how to get the best bang for your buck. So I personally would hugely encourage you to go for the, the simple cheap.
[00:12:42] Alastair Humphreys: Adventure. And another aspect is that it then is all in your own hands. Trying to row an ocean, unless you're really rich, you're going to have to go out and find sponsors and companies. And then you're starting to put your hopes and dreams in other people's hands. And it takes ages and you might fail and all sorts.
[00:12:57] Alastair Humphreys: And so I'm a huge believer in just, just trying to take responsibility for your own. Save up as much money as you can work out how much time you have in your life and then don't complain because someone else has got more time and money. Just appreciate what you've got and do the best that you can with what you've got and do it as soon as you can because life will only get more complicated and uh, with more commitments and more tight.
[00:13:22] Alastair Humphreys: So do it, do it as soon as you can.
[00:13:27] Travis Bader: What is it that drives this passion for adventure that you have?
[00:13:33] Alastair Humphreys: I think there are various things driving my adventurous side and they have evolved a lot over the 20 years or so I've been doing big adventures. I mean, I guess that happens just, you just get old, don't you?
[00:13:46] Alastair Humphreys: So your motivations for life change. But so, so. If I just talk you quickly through them, I've, I've mentioned the early ones, which is a curiosity to see the world and a desire to push myself and challenge myself. And then that sort of moved on towards a, uh, a curiosity about. learning about different places in the world.
[00:14:07] Alastair Humphreys: Um, and then adventures for me moved on more to about the, the joy that I got from encouraging other people to go have adventures. So I do my own adventures and then through those try and encourage people to have adventures of their own. And then more recently, the more recent phases is that adventure for me is a way to spend time.
[00:14:27] Alastair Humphreys: out in nature, which is good for my, uh, body and my soul, physical and mental health, but also is a way to start getting me really connected and caring about nature and the environment and hopefully trying to help do something to, to fix the mess that we've got ourselves in. So yeah, my motivations for adventure have evolved a lot over the years.
[00:14:48] Travis Bader: You know, when I was, uh, I think it was grade three, I was diagnosed with ADHD. My family had no idea what to do with me. They were going to ship me off to a, uh, uh, wherever someplace I would take because I was a bit too much of a handful. And then the doctor says, well, maybe you should get this kid checked out.
[00:15:06] Travis Bader: Got diagnosed professionally with ADHD, was put on the highest dosage of Ritalin in the province on an experimental basis. Apparently I was told anyways on an experimental run to see how this worked. I absolutely hated it. But one thing that I found was being outdoors, being in nature had a, just a profound effect on me.
[00:15:28] Travis Bader: And it's something that I encourage obviously everybody else. And I see now they have, um, they talk about, I think it's like green therapy or. I forget what the term is that they use, but, um, ways to cope with ADHD without medication. And a big part of that is just being outside. So that's always been a huge part of me and, and my soul and what, what kind of drives me more out of necessity than anything else for my own sanity.
[00:15:58] Travis Bader: Um, would you say that that kind of, uh, speaks to you as well, when you grew up, were you one of, did you follow a similar path as myself that you needed the outdoors or did you discover the outdoors and, and what it could do for you?
[00:16:17] Alastair Humphreys: No, I don't think I, uh, particularly needed. the outdoors as a kid. I enjoyed it when I was doing it, but I generally quite happily spend as many hours watching TV as I could get away with before my mum threw me out of the house.
[00:16:30] Alastair Humphreys: So, so no, so, so that aspect didn't apply to me. Although actually just, just this weekend, I was talking to a friend of mine who's a teacher in an elementary school and they, there's an education program called forest schools where you do some of the teaching out in the woods. And, uh, and she was telling me about a child in the school who, really struggles in the normal classroom.
[00:16:51] Alastair Humphreys: They can't concentrate. They're naughty, all these sort of issues that may be familiar to you, Travis. And yet when they get to the outside part to the time in the forest and boom, this kid shines. They are the superstar. They're engaged. They know about the birds and insects and boom, boom, boom. And, uh, and there's, so there's different levels of what success at school.
[00:17:12] Alastair Humphreys: Could mean, I suppose, but I, I've come to that side of nature, uh, as an adult, really. So now as an adult, I need to get out and run around and burn off some energy. I need to get out in nature just to de stress myself and to calm down. Um, and, and increasingly so, I find that I turn towards just spending time outdoors to just try and slow my soul and get through the stresses of modern life.
[00:17:43] Travis Bader: It's interesting you bring up success. If I were to ask you, and we have success in many different ways, but what would success be to you? Because you're a guy who's got some pretty high ambitions. Clearly you're driven. You've got a number of different endeavors. Mind you, they seem to follow a similar theme and underlying theme.
[00:18:04] Travis Bader: What is success to you?
[00:18:07] Alastair Humphreys: Well, success is also a, something that is evolved a lot and I've realized that it is a foolish master and a foolish goal to chase because for example, cycling around the world, one of the re, I would come up with a challenge like that thinking I want to do something huge and enormous and if I can just cycle around the world then I'll Then people will tell me I'm amazing and I'll feel great about myself.
[00:18:30] Alastair Humphreys: And that will be real success. And I go off all the way around the world and I get all the way back home. And I then essentially think, huh, well, I made it around the world. So it can't actually have been that hard. So maybe I should have done something a bit harder. So then I start trying to think of another idea.
[00:18:45] Alastair Humphreys: So. So trying to chase, um, goal driven success is the route to madness in my experience. And much better is to try and chase the sort of success based on your, your values. So what, what's important to me to be someone who spends a lot of time in the outdoors, who encourages people to live adventurously, who tries to do a bit to try and fix some of the environmental issues and, and that sort of values within me that I'm trying to work towards.
[00:19:13] Alastair Humphreys: And if I spend a day doing those, then that feels like. Perhaps a successful day, but I'm really, I'm really bad at Competitive success. So for example, if I sell a thousand books, I don't think oh great. I just look on Amazon I see some dude who sold 2, 000 books and I'm just jealous and angry at that guy So yeah, I have to try to just keep it within myself rather than competing with others
[00:19:38] Travis Bader: Yeah.
[00:19:39] Travis Bader: So you've got a pretty strong competitive nature. Clearly you've, you're competitive with yourself in, in some of your endeavors that you've been on. Um, how do you, how do you handle that, that natural competition that you feel within yourself?
[00:19:55] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah, essentially, although I just said that about competing with other people on books, generally my competitive instincts are just within myself, just trying to push myself and prove stuff to myself.
[00:20:06] Alastair Humphreys: And I think. I think maybe I'm just getting old because, um, I'm not, I'm not nearly as ambitious and driven as I used to be. And I'm much more concerned now. We're trying to live a life that just feels like it's got some purpose to it. I'm trying to do some good, but generally also that I'm just. Enjoying my life.
[00:20:28] Alastair Humphreys: And that's a very new concept. Uh, until quite recently, I would have thought that someone trying to enjoy themselves was just a wimp. And that really what I should be doing is jumping in some ice cold lakes and having a truly miserable time in order to ensure that I was maximally alive. But these days I'm quite happy with a, uh, a good book and a cup of coffee.
[00:20:48] Alastair Humphreys: You
[00:20:48] Travis Bader: know, I've always liked that, uh, that outlook that, uh, success is to be able to enjoy your life and to ensure. To share that enjoyment with others and people who have reached a point where they know how to enjoy their life. They know what it is that brings them happiness and they're able to share it with others.
[00:21:09] Travis Bader: I, I think that's a pretty good measure of success for anybody.
[00:21:15] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah, absolutely. And I, I think I envy people that you sometimes meet people who just got that sorted and I definitely envy them and.
[00:21:25] Travis Bader: You know, I don't know if I'm ever going to have that sorted. I, I, I like the, and a friend of mine, you would probably, uh, uh, have some words about this.
[00:21:35] Travis Bader: He's like, I don't think life is a journey, but I like that journey. However, we want to express ourselves. Explain that or describe that the process being able to enjoy that process is, uh, so utterly crucial. Like when you say being goal oriented is, um, and always striving for those goals, well, you get there and then what, well, maybe I.
[00:21:57] Travis Bader: Maybe I need something harder. I liken it to cliff jumping. Okay. Kind of scares me. I'm pretty high up, man. Is the water deep enough? I think it was. I threw a rocket. It sounded like it was okay. Let's go. Okay. That was good. Let's do it a couple more times. Now, what, well, let's climb a little bit higher.
[00:22:15] Travis Bader: Right. And you keep doing that. And at what point do you stop when you suffer serious injury, because you don't want to give up, right? You don't want to let your fears get the, get ahold of you. So I liken that process of, uh, goal chasing to cliff jumping. And maybe we need some of that. Maybe we need those failures to keep pushing this up if they're, uh, controlled, but.
[00:22:39] Travis Bader: Man, there's something to be being able to be content with the process of being content with what you're doing. There's no question in there. It's just a big, long statement.
[00:22:49] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah, that was a long statement. I was about to try and think what to say, but I'll let you ask a question.
[00:22:54] Travis Bader: No problem. So you had a podcast for a while, which I thought was pretty cool.
[00:22:58] Travis Bader: Cause it's interesting listening to you at your first episode and then listening to you as you progress through and how you get more and more podcast develops. What was that? Just my own personal sort of, uh, uh, selfish question here, but what was that process like for you?
[00:23:20] Alastair Humphreys: First of all, I absolutely loved having a podcast and I continually trying to work out ways to get it back to life.
[00:23:27] Alastair Humphreys: Uh, essentially it seemed to me, it's just an excuse to find someone that I thought interesting and say, Hey. Please can we hang out together for an hour, um, in a way that if I didn't have a podcast and just ask people that it would seem a bit creepy and weird. So I love that aspect of it. Um, I mean, and interesting that you mentioned the technical change in it.
[00:23:48] Alastair Humphreys: I mean, the, literally the first time I took the microphone. out of the packet and press record was when I put it in front of my first guest, which is a terrible way to go about the technique. But hey, ho, I improved a bit. But what I really enjoyed about it was I, I just, I spent a whole month cycling around Yorkshire.
[00:24:07] Alastair Humphreys: This is the small County that I grew up in in England. And I did this because I'd been all the way around the world, but I realized I didn't know very much about home where I'd grown up at all. So I was interested just to go and explore where I lived and I was also very interested in what living adventurously meant to different people.
[00:24:26] Alastair Humphreys: I had my own ideas that living an adventurous life was uh, pursuit worth going for, but how did other people approach that same question? So I just went interviewing people who in their different ways were living adventurously and they were artists or photographers or all sorts of various different things, but it was just essentially a really nice chance to chat, but I found it deceptively hard.
[00:24:49] Alastair Humphreys: So I'd prepare my questions and then you ask the guy the first question and they answer and go off in a totally different direction. So then in my head, I'm trying, I'm trying to hold the microphone in front of the person. I'm trying to read what my second question is, but also in my head, I'm thinking, well, maybe I should go down this new direction.
[00:25:06] Alastair Humphreys: Cause this is really interesting. And by the end of the interview, I was absolutely exhausted. So, um, I found it really quite hard to do, but, but enjoyable as well.
[00:25:15] Travis Bader: I've always found the hardest part about recording any podcast is just my introduction. Cause I always look at it. Like if I'm going to have somebody into my house, I don't, I know some podcast hosts will do this and no judgment, but they'll say, go introduce yourself to the audience.
[00:25:31] Travis Bader: I wouldn't have somebody into my house and say, oh, go introduce yourself to everyone. I'm going to bring them on in and say, this is Alistair, here's a bit about his background. Introduce them to the rest of the group. And I, and I look at the podcast as the same way. Mind you, that sets a tone for the podcast where now the person is like, okay, now I've been introduced.
[00:25:48] Travis Bader: Here's what I got to live up to. And it becomes a, uh, sort of an interview question answers kind of format. And I've always loved the, the back and forth that we're often able to develop in a podcast where people throw things right back at me. They say the, well, that's a really stupid question. Let me ask you this.
[00:26:06] Travis Bader: Right. And, and that's the, the beauty of the podcast I find is, is how it can evolve. And, you know, I'm previously right before recording this, you were on an Instagram live and you're with the river trust and talking with them and talking about great joy you've had out in swimming in the different rivers and, uh, brings to mind a podcast that you did talking about, I think it was a Ted talk that you're going to go talk at, or, or some.
[00:26:37] Travis Bader: Talk in the, uh, in the Netherlands and a taxi driver picks you up and, um, you talk him into doing something a little bit crazy. Did you want to talk me through this one? If you remember this.
[00:26:49] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah, I do remember this episode. So I is, I, um, do quite a lot of talks in different places. And I, so I took the train from London to Amsterdam.
[00:26:58] Alastair Humphreys: to go speak at some boring corporate sort of event, um, but the taxi driver picked me up and he was driving me to the place and it was a hot summer's day and in the Netherlands there were a load of canals, of course they're famous for that, but what I noticed as we were driving there it was a hot summer's day.
[00:27:16] Alastair Humphreys: There are a load of kids and teenagers jumping off the bridges into the canals, and I love doing stuff like that, but I was on my way to an important corporate event, sensible guy, and I was with a taxi driver, so I said, oh, oh well, and then after a bit I was like, come on, I really want to go jump in a canal, not least of all because the topic that I We're speaking about it.
[00:27:36] Alastair Humphreys: These events was, Hey, just get on and live your life. Be adventurous, blah, blah, blah. And there was I just sitting in a taxi being lazy. So I said to this guy, can we stop at the next canal so I can jump into the canal? And he sort of laughed and thought I was a strange, but of course, you know, I'm the client, he's the taxi guy.
[00:27:53] Alastair Humphreys: So he kind of has to do whatever I want. He's like, yeah, sure. So as we drive towards the next one, then I say, Have you ever jumped in one of these canals? He said, no, no, I've never done that before. I thought, right, why don't you join me? So he's like, okay. And I was delighted that he was just willing to grasp it and say, okay.
[00:28:08] Alastair Humphreys: So we stopped the car and we both got out of the car and we just had to strip down to our boxer shorts. Jump off a fairly high bridge into the canal. It was fantastic. We laughed and I think we did it two or three times and then we just had to get dressed, get back in the car and drive on. And it was a lovely little experience, but you know, I, I do that sort of thing a lot, so I enjoyed it, but it wasn't that big a deal to me.
[00:28:30] Alastair Humphreys: This guy sent me. An email afterwards. This was amazing. And then he sent me an email a year later with a photo of us. Like, wow, do you remember when we did this together? And I just thought that was so fantastic that he'd also really appreciated that. And who knows, maybe he'd got some other clients to go jump in rivers at other points.
[00:28:46] Alastair Humphreys: So yeah, it was a lovely experience.
[00:28:48] Travis Bader: It's got to be one of the most memorable taxi rides I'm sure he's had. I got to wonder, was he still on the clock when he was jumping in, or did he turn the clock or the cab off when he was jumping?
[00:28:59] Alastair Humphreys: I hope he was on the clock. Also, when, uh, when we were about to jump in, this guy, uh, he's a tax driver.
[00:29:05] Alastair Humphreys: He had massive muscles and a huge six pack. He made me feel like a real scrawny little wimpy guy
[00:29:09] Travis Bader: next to him. Oh man. You know, that's what, it's amazing what we can accomplish in life and the adventures that we can have if we just open our mind up to being acceptable to them, um, to being open to them.
[00:29:28] Travis Bader: And that's really what you're pushing. If I gather correctly with micro adventures, changing the perspective of what an adventure is. And harnessing that same sort of thing that you would feel on one of your epic massive adventures without having to break the bank, without having to really travel too far from home and maybe even get it done before you go to work.
[00:29:53] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah, absolutely. So I think a lot of people, hopefully people listening to this podcast enjoy the idea of adventure, you know, they were talking about crossing oceans and cycling across continents. And it's quite fun to listen to these sort of stories like, Oh, that sounds great. But it's kind of also not really very helpful for real people in real lives with real jobs and real commitments and families and mortgages and all that sort of stuff.
[00:30:18] Alastair Humphreys: So it struck me that there was a bit of a disconnect here between the number of people who like the idea of adventures versus those who have the opportunities to do it. So I wondered if I could somehow try and bridge the gap between the two to take all this good stuff of adventure that we all love and somehow make it compatible with.
[00:30:36] Alastair Humphreys: busy real life to find short, simple, local, affordable alternatives to the big adventures I was doing. So what I've started to do is always was then was to just think what opportunities for adventure can you find in your day? Not what barriers are getting in the way. So don't complain about, Oh, I've got the nine to five job.
[00:30:56] Alastair Humphreys: I can't do it. Ask yourself, well, what about the five to nine? When I finished work in the evening, what can I do until? I have to go back to work the next morning. Maybe I can fit something in then. And don't think, oh, I haven't got enough money to row across the Atlantic, say. Instead think, oh, wow, I've got 50 bucks in my pocket.
[00:31:13] Alastair Humphreys: I wonder, maybe I could get a train to some place I've never been to a few hours away and walk home this weekend. What, what advent, what opportunities are there, not what obstacles stand in the way. So. Yeah, my adventures, um, over the last 10 years, it just got smaller and smaller and smaller. And then hopefully at the same time become more accessible and relatable to more people so that people not only enjoy hearing about adventures, but they now have more opportunities and fewer excuses not to go do them for themselves.
[00:31:44] Travis Bader: When you're doing your podcast and you were asking people what it was like to live adventurously, uh, what was a common thread? Was there a common thread that you'd found? What was the thing that would drive people to want to live a more adventurous life?
[00:32:03] Alastair Humphreys: I think the people that I was speaking to were quite willing to.
[00:32:09] Alastair Humphreys: go against the herd. So not just to do the stuff that society deemed was normal or expected. So perhaps a streak of individuality and eccentricity and a willingness to walk their own path and quite a strong awareness that time is very short and for all of us and yet Well, any of us who are listening to this podcast, we're on the privileged end of global society.
[00:32:35] Alastair Humphreys: And if we don't make the most of that incredible, um, lottery winning ticket of birth, then it'd be a bit of a shame, really. So I think it's about just not caring what other people think, being honest about what you personally feel is important and fulfilling and adventurous. And then Making it happen because time is ticking.
[00:32:56] Alastair Humphreys: So, um, yeah, time is ticking. That that's certainly something that has driven me to a lot of my projects is I have an idea and then I'm thinking, well, let's just get on with it because time is ticking.
[00:33:09] Travis Bader: Do you keep that sense of mortality in your, uh, your head at all times? The whole momentum Mori sort of concept.
[00:33:17] Alastair Humphreys: Um, as I was saying that then I realized that I haven't said that for a few years and it certainly used to be a really big driver for me, but I think as I'm a mellowing, I'm getting more accepting and I'm less driven and ambitious, I think, than, than I was a bunch of years ago, but there's a fantastic website called death clock.
[00:33:38] Alastair Humphreys: and you type into it, your, your age, your gender, your height, your weight, whether or not you smoke and it calculates for you the day that you will die. Um, which is sort of depressing, but I personally find it really inspiring and I actually have it in my calendar, my Google calendar of, uh, on this date, I am dead and all following dates.
[00:33:58] Alastair Humphreys: Um, and I put it in for a bit of a joke, but actually it's quite serious for me now. It's like anything that I want to get done. Has to get done before this date that's in my calendar because after that I'm, I'm busy being dead for the rest of the existing universe. So, uh, it is the deadline.
[00:34:15] Travis Bader: Do you remember what that date is off top of your head?
[00:34:18] Alastair Humphreys: It's alarmingly, it's alarmingly soon. It's, it's, I don't remember the date, but it's, it's much sooner than I would like it to be.
[00:34:28] Travis Bader: You know, my grandfather died when he was 56. I never met him, but I saw pictures of him and, Oh, look at that old man. Right. 56. It sounds like a good ripe old age to go. Now that I'm getting older, I'm like.
[00:34:41] Travis Bader: Man, that was pretty young in the scheme of things.
[00:34:44] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah. Yeah. That's scary, isn't
[00:34:47] Travis Bader: it? Totally. Yeah. Being able to, um, get things accomplished while there's still light of day is definitely, uh, a motivator for many. Um, it's funny that you'd say that that was something that really sort of drove you, but you're starting to mellow and, uh, it's not on your head as much.
[00:35:05] Travis Bader: Is that because you feel you've gotten those key pieces accomplished or is it because your perspective on. Death is changing.
[00:35:13] Alastair Humphreys: Um, just incidentally, while you're asking me that question, I quickly typed into my Google calendar, uh, death, and I've got it scheduled in for the 8th of September, 2055, and it says my death day one, uh, and then 9th of September, my death day two.
[00:35:30] Alastair Humphreys: So yeah, if you want to call me, you've got to do it for 8th of September, 2055, because I'm pretty busy after that being dead. Um, so I, I think, I think things have changed for me. Through a conscious. A conscious effort to try to make myself be less ambitious. So my ambition has to become less ambitious to accept more that what I've got is good enough and to appreciate what I've got and to be tried to be driven by some of those sort of internal values around the external goals and targets of, Oh, just one more adventure, one more book, blah, blah, blah.
[00:36:08] Alastair Humphreys: So it's been a conscious effort to just sort of slow down and accept what I have and that enough is enough.
[00:36:16] Travis Bader: So a lot of people listening to this, I'm sure would be intrigued by the adventures that you've been on and intrigued by the fact that micro adventures maybe isn't something that's even been on their radar in the past, but they also might come up with some.
[00:36:31] Travis Bader: You know, maybe you've seen it, some common barriers or misconceptions that might prevent them from embarking on a micro adventure. Have you seen many misconceptions or barriers that would prevent a person and how would you suggest they overcome that?
[00:36:48] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah. So I started to take micro adventures quite seriously, um, Geez, quite a long time ago, 10 years, more than 10 years ago.
[00:36:56] Alastair Humphreys: And I'd send out some questionnaires to people like what's stopping you having adventures? And I'd get hundreds and hundreds of replies to these. So essentially the two big ones are a lack of time or a lack of money. Generally in life, you either don't have enough time or you don't have enough money.
[00:37:12] Alastair Humphreys: There's generally a period for one of those two things. Um, then, Um, a perceived lack of expertise. Oh, it's okay for you to have an adventure. Uh, I can't do that because I'm too young, too old, too thin, too heavy, too old, too. What I'm not fit enough, all these sorts of perceived things. Um, whereas what I'm trying to emphasize with micro ventures is.
[00:37:35] Alastair Humphreys: Do what you can with what you've got. Sure, you might not be able to climb Mount Everest, but for you, maybe climbing that hill that you can see from your office window that you've never been to before, maybe that's your personal version of Everest. So that's one thing. And then the fourth is um, geographical.
[00:37:50] Alastair Humphreys: So people think Oh, I can't have an adventure cause I live in boring old Britain. If I only lived in Vancouver, then I'd have these wonderful adventures. Whereas of course there'll be loads of people in Vancouver thinking, Oh, boring old Canada been in all my life. If only I could go to England, that'd be a real adventure.
[00:38:08] Alastair Humphreys: So try to try to get the, into your mind. The idea that just try and seek wildness and nature close to where you live. Don't just wish that you lived in a log cabin in Patagonia. Just do what you can. So they're the four chief things that I come up against time and again. But the two biggest by far are lack of time or lack of money.
[00:38:31] Travis Bader: Isn't it funny, the, uh, the doctrine of distance. And we talk about that in the, so I, I run a training company as well. And we talk about that in training and people will bring in an instructor from another province or another state going into the, uh, The United States there, well, they must be good. Cause look at how far they're coming from.
[00:38:51] Travis Bader: Oh, but if you get one from the UK, well now we got, we got a heavy hitter now. Cause look at how far they've come. The doctrine of distance and the same thing applies to going on an adventure. It's like, Oh yeah, look at, look at all these beautiful places that we've got posters on the wall of that. And one day I'm going to get out and I'm going to check this out.
[00:39:10] Travis Bader: And the amount of absolutely beautiful places that are right here in our backyard, when you just kind of look around a little bit is, is pretty crazy. I think that's a really good distinction that people can make is having that passion and joy in their hearts for something that is accessible. It's right here, right in your backyard.
[00:39:30] Alastair Humphreys: I, I think you're exactly right. I was talking, um, to someone a while ago about how I've been exploring the local map that I live on and I found interesting little things close to where I live. And this person said to me, yeah, that's fine. But where I live, I live in Kansas. This is so boring. There's nothing to see here.
[00:39:48] Alastair Humphreys: And I just said, I've never been to Kansas. If you suddenly dropped me now in the middle of Kansas, I'd be so interested. Like, wow, look at this. There's a giant cornfields or I don't know, a cafe selling pancakes. I don't know what I'd find, but that would be so interesting. The very fact that he listened to me saying.
[00:40:08] Alastair Humphreys: There is interesting stuff where you live. And he'd said, yet, yet that's true, but not for me because where I live is boring, really, really struck me.
[00:40:17] Travis Bader: That's funny. You know, uh, haven't done it in a while and I probably should, but I used to go to the bookstore and I'd take a look at, um, uh, what were they like the lonely planet, or they had things like Europe on a shoestring or all these different kinds of travel books.
[00:40:33] Travis Bader: And I'd look at ones. For my area and I'd go through and I'd take notes of different things and then I'd go out and I'd check that out because, you know, growing up, I had no money. And that was, that was something that was fun. It was kind of neat, but you, it, if I'm having a difficult time looking at it from a An outsider's perspective, just going to those websites or going to those books.
[00:40:55] Travis Bader: Cause when I was doing it, we didn't have websites, but, uh, uh, was something that helped me get out there.
[00:41:01] Alastair Humphreys: I did exactly the same thing when I got home from cycling around the world, having just been in 60 countries. When I'm in a foreign country, I find everything interesting. Wow. Wow. Look, look how the supermarkets work.
[00:41:12] Alastair Humphreys: Oh, so interesting. The school buses are yellow in this country. I'm just, I find everything interesting in other countries. And when I get home, I'm home. So when I got home from cycle around the world, one of the first things I did was buy the lonely planet guide to Britain and the lonely planet guide to London for exactly the same reasons as you just said, to make myself remember, to be curious and have that curious traveller's eye.
[00:41:38] Alastair Humphreys: Right here at home,
[00:41:40] Travis Bader: one thing that I found, and maybe you found the same thing is when traveling, particularly traveling solo. I love to travel solo just because you learn a lot about yourself and you can learn a lot about things and be put into situations that you might not otherwise be put in if you're in a group, but the number of people that would reach out and say.
[00:42:01] Travis Bader: Oh, hey, um, you need a place to stay? I got a place you can come to, to my place to stay tonight. Oh, what are you doing for dinner tonight? My treat, come on out. I just want to practice. English, and I was always a little suspect and I tend to say, no, no, no, no. I'm fine. Even though again, broke, I would save money on accommodations by sleeping on trains or finding a little place where I could, uh, make a little camp.
[00:42:26] Travis Bader: And so that way I'd have some money to be able to pay for those trains or pay for the food. You wouldn't find that same sort of interaction in our own backyard. It's not like I walk around Vancouver and people are like, Oh, you look hungry. hungry or you want a place to stay and you get this idea that people where I'm at aren't friendly, people where I'm at just aren't as open, but maybe, maybe it's you.
[00:42:50] Travis Bader: Have you found this?
[00:42:52] Alastair Humphreys: So I've got a really good example of exactly this dilemma. Uh, so, um, one of my earliest micro adventures actually, although now I look back, it's actually quite big for a micro adventure, but I decided to walk. Right the way around London. There's a road, a big motorway, a big freeway that goes in a circle around London called the M 25.
[00:43:11] Alastair Humphreys: It's full of traffic. It goes through endless boring suburbia. Everyone hates it. And I decided to walk a lap of it to try and show that you can find adventure anywhere. And hey, maybe there's some beauty along the way. So, um, I did that in January It was snowy and cold, but I had quite a big rucksack, backpack on, with my tent, I was camping along the way.
[00:43:32] Alastair Humphreys: So, I'd get to these completely ordinary English towns, the sort of places that I've spent, I mean, all the time. But suddenly I'd be walking into the cafe or the pub with my huge backpack on and my tent and like Suddenly I look different. I was an interesting, exotic arrival. And suddenly people like, Hey stranger, tell us where you're from.
[00:43:52] Alastair Humphreys: Tell me your story here. Let me buy you breakfast. Uh, it's really cold outside tonight. Why don't you put your tent up in my garden? The sort of stuff that never happens to be normal in Britain. But because I was suddenly different, I was an adventurer. I was on a journey. People responded to that. Um, so yeah, that was an exact test of the theory you just, you just mentioned.
[00:44:13] Travis Bader: That's really cool for, for me, that's, uh, one of the coolest things about, about traveling is just meeting the people, seeing the cultures and being open to those sorts of experiences, being able to have that in your own backyard. That's pretty cool. So are you able to share? A personal micro adventure that was, uh, impactful for you, meaningful for you.
[00:44:40] Travis Bader: Was there one that really stands out? Well,
[00:44:44] Alastair Humphreys: that was certainly the walking around London was a really pivotal one for me because I, I, um, I did it to try and prove. One point. And the point I was trying to prove was that you don't need to go to the end of the world to have some sort of physical challenge and a bit of an adventure.
[00:45:00] Alastair Humphreys: And it was interesting in that regard. At the same time, I did kind of think it was going to be a pretty ugly, fairly boring sort of journey through boring suburban towns. And it's true. I mean, there are a lot of boring, ugly suburban towns. But what I realized on this walk was that between these towns are fields and little rivers and bits of woodland and stuff, which I'd never noticed before.
[00:45:25] Alastair Humphreys: Cause in the car, you just zoom from one town to the next and. I hadn't seen these things because I'd not been looking for them. And they, that made me realize that there was much more nature and wildness, even in a fairly built up place like Southeast of England than I'd ever realized before. And that then got me, uh, Into the idea of, wow, I can find rivers to swim in or hills to camp in or, or woods to go running.
[00:45:52] Alastair Humphreys: And I can find these everywhere. I really don't need to go all the way to, um, Alberta to, to find a bit of peace and wilderness.
[00:46:02] Travis Bader: Now there's always going to be those that are risk adverse, or those who don't want to go into the wild because they figure there's going to be a bear there. They don't want to swim in the ocean because they figured there'll be a shark in there.
[00:46:14] Travis Bader: Maybe they live in an area where sharks or bears are around, but even if they are, the odds are really in their favor that they're going to be just fine. Um, do you find that that is an obstacle for people? Like, and it's particularly in a micro adventure because all of a sudden they're unknown or that the scary thing might be, might be other people might be.
[00:46:36] Travis Bader: urban dangers. Is that something that you've encountered or an objection you've heard from people?
[00:46:42] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah, that's an absolutely enormous one. Um, and what, what I think people tend to neglect in their thinkings. They worry, Oh, if I go out and, uh, swim in this river, then a shark might eat me. And that would be really bad.
[00:46:58] Alastair Humphreys: And they, and they worry about that. But people don't pause to think that if I don't swim in that river, then I will miss out on that. joyful experience of having swum in the river and my life will be slightly diminished because of that. So people don't seem to, and to me that seems like a really big risk.
[00:47:16] Alastair Humphreys: That, I mean, that's really risking my life that it's, I'm making my life worse by not swimming in that river. And what a tragedy that is because I've got my death in my calendar, so I better get on and swim in that river. So I think, I think there is that aspect to it. Um, but I think though, also to be fair to, to be maybe kinder to people, there's um, there's an a nervousness about the unknown.
[00:47:38] Alastair Humphreys: And I think that I sometimes downplay that because I've been lucky enough to have spent many years actively pursuing the unknown and sort of choosing uncertainty. And I didn't find that easy at first. I was often very nervous and worried, but, uh, but then I felt great when I had. done that pushed myself to do that.
[00:48:00] Alastair Humphreys: And I think like any sort of exercise, you flex the muscle and it grows. So, so I do now have quite a lot of confidence that I quite happily land in any country in the world or wandering to any wood and I have an interesting time. So I've got the habit of that. So what I would encourage people who sort of like the idea, but have too many negative.
[00:48:18] Alastair Humphreys: worries is to just think of a smaller option. So you don't want to go sleep on that hill for the night because it's a bit scary. So, okay, don't just do nothing. Shrink it down. Maybe sleep in your backyard for the night, which sounds kind of silly. But I used to love doing that when I was a child, just sleeping outside.
[00:48:37] Alastair Humphreys: And you know, I've done it now as an adult and I feel a bit silly just taking my bedding out from my house and lying down in my, in my backyard. It feels a bit silly, but actually once you're there, you know, you see the stars, you can hear the birds in the trees and the wind blowing and things. And in many ways you're getting, let's say, 80 percent of the benefits of a wilderness camping experience, but only having you had to go two meters from your front door with the benefit that if it rains, you can just go inside and go back to bed.
[00:49:06] Alastair Humphreys: So the good, so then you do that. Someone does that. They'll think, Oh, that was good. I enjoyed that. It's worth me being a bit bolder to try something a bit braver next time. So I think if something seems too daunting and difficult rather than doing nothing, just try and find a smaller, shorter, simpler option until you can overcome your internal worries about it.
[00:49:26] Travis Bader: That's brilliant. You know, I got to imagine that I'm trying to put myself into your mental headspace prior to cycling around the world. I'm trying to put myself in your mental headspace prior to rowing across the Atlantic. I would think that the, uh, trepidation of rowing across the Atlantic would be higher than the trepidation of embarking on a cycling trip across the world.
[00:49:51] Travis Bader: Is that, is that fair? Or would you say that there's maybe equal, but different, uh, um. Thoughts going through your head.
[00:50:01] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah. I would say that very, very different feelings that really, so my, my worries about going around the world were really about getting murdered by horrible, scary foreigners, because I'd learned from reading, from reading the newspapers and watching the TV news.
[00:50:18] Alastair Humphreys: I knew that foreigners and all these other countries were horrible, scary people. So that was my, that was my worry, really. Before I started cycling. And then of course, once I actually started visiting these foreign countries, I realized that everyone was just nice and normal, like they were back home. And what on earth was all the fuss about?
[00:50:35] Alastair Humphreys: So my worries about, um, cycling around the world were very much premeditated. No, not what they were done before the, before the trip. And they were totally and utterly wrong. Um, my fears about rowing the Atlantic were more about, uh, falling off the boat in the night and drowning or getting capsizing in a huge storm and falling off the boat and drowning.
[00:50:59] Alastair Humphreys: And, and, and that then led onto the notion of perceived dangers versus actual dangers. Because the reality is when you're rowing across the Atlantic, as long as you keep your safety harness on and you keep clipped onto the safety line, you're pretty safe. You know, you're not going to fall off, off the boat and drown.
[00:51:19] Alastair Humphreys: And then if you just sat in the boat for a few months, you would drift across the ocean to the other side. So The perceived risks were high, but the actual dangers were quite low. And I think that's a sign of a good adventure. Something that gets you worried and nervous, but actually, if you plan it and do it properly, it's actually quite a safe thing.
[00:51:36] Alastair Humphreys: Because adventurous people love being alive, so you don't want to do something reckless and stupid and die. So, um, uh, yeah, they were very different things I was worried about.
[00:51:47] Travis Bader: See, I would find, and this is perfect segue into where I'm going with this. And you probably, uh, saw where I was going with that to begin with, but you know, I would find.
[00:51:56] Travis Bader: Like at a young age, I would look at these rivers and look at the white water. And man, that's kind of scary. And how can someone go through that? But, you know, maybe I'll just go on the real side of the water and I'll try swimming down beside the, the white water. And I did that and maybe I'll put a little inflatable boat in and I'll go down.
[00:52:15] Travis Bader: Hey, that wasn't too bad. Maybe I'll roll it out into the center. All of a sudden, I'm getting a little bit more comfortable, a little bit more comfortable. I ended up, uh, rafting most of the, uh, the major navigable rivers around here, uh, ended up purchasing a whitewater raft, a commercial one after almost drowning a couple of times.
[00:52:33] Travis Bader: Uh, prior to that, it was a 20 Canadian tire, which is an outdoor story all across chain store over here and, uh, no life jacket. Maybe I had a few beers in a backpack tied to it and, uh, Then it was a World War II inflatable that, uh, purchased at a, at a gun show that we ended up having to make, we called it a shower cap.
[00:52:54] Travis Bader: So that, uh, cause we ripped the bottom out of it. And so we had a bit of a bucket boat, but always progressing up and up. But there's this feeling prior to going in that I would have even going into the, uh, side of the water when I was, cause I was never a great swimmer, which I've learned to overcome.
[00:53:14] Travis Bader: When I just kind of swam or floated down the side, there's those nerves. Then when I started going out into the bigger white water or start swimming through that, there's those nerves and eventually you get more used to it. So I guess this whole roundabout question statement is, do you still get that on micro adventures?
[00:53:35] Alastair Humphreys: No, not really. So, micro, I love micro adventures, uh, but this, and they, they act as a substitute for a lot of adventurous type stuff in my life, but no, they don't, they, they don't do that. for me so that I don't get that side of the adventuring from doing the small local things. But when an interesting, um, well, maybe interesting, you can decide this is interesting.
[00:54:02] Alastair Humphreys: I realized that over, overdoing lots of expedition things, you start to become comfortable with it. You start to become competent. You realize you're probably going to see you. If you do things sensibly, you're going to get from A to B and you'll succeed. And I started to realize that perhaps in my own way, These adventures were actually not that adventurous.
[00:54:20] Alastair Humphreys: They were almost just me in my comfort zone, just sticking to what I'm good at and maybe to get back to that fear and adrenaline and the uncertainty I needed to really look differently at adventure. So I, um, I decided to retrace the, one of my favorite books, a book from the 1930s about this young British guy who walks through Spain playing his violin to earn money along the way.
[00:54:43] Alastair Humphreys: I can't play the violin at all, but I decided this is what I'm going to do. I had six months of violin lessons. I sounded like a strangled cat. It was horrible, but I spent a month walking through Spain with no money, no credit card and only the violin to earn me some money. And I personally found standing up in little village plazas, little squares to play the violin absolutely terrifying, at least as terrifying as rowing the Atlantic ocean.
[00:55:09] Alastair Humphreys: But, um, but it was a different way of trying to get that uncertainty and fear. And, and I think, I think a good. Example of how we can all address what adventurous living means in quite different ways.
[00:55:23] Travis Bader: I really like that example. You know, and you're right. I mean, you start setting these goals and these adventures and the, you find yourself in your comfort zone.
[00:55:32] Travis Bader: People would say, wow, you're rafting these big rivers. Isn't that an adrenaline exercise? No, no, it's actually really, really relaxing. And it's really, it's really the opposite of adrenaline. Every once in a while, you find yourself in a bit of a predicament and there might be a short stint of, uh, okay, we need some action quick here.
[00:55:52] Travis Bader: But no, it's extremely relaxing, but in that same breath, um, I also found I was getting complacent as I went out and kept pushing myself and I would push that whole risk reward envelope a bit more. Just so I could kind of get that feeling. Is that something that you've experienced?
[00:56:15] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah, absolutely, and it is actually one of the chief reasons why I decided to reconsider Adventure Adventure, to think about hey, perhaps playing the violin is an adventure, or perhaps encouraging people to sleep on a hill, that's adventure because The, the, uh, the line you're pursuing there just eventually is going to lead to disaster.
[00:56:37] Alastair Humphreys: If you keep just pushing and pushing and pushing, eventually you're going to go jump off a higher and higher cliff until eventually it goes wrong. So, uh, I didn't want to just be heading down that route and I prefer to just try and start trying to think a bit more laterally about the way I was going to go about things.
[00:56:53] Travis Bader: So one question I've asked myself is at what point am I being smart and at what point am I being kind of chicken and not living? That's always that little thing that I'm kind of, uh. Uh, juggling with like, I want to push, I want to live. You want to do these exciting things. No, I've got a family. I've got a couple of kids.
[00:57:14] Travis Bader: They depend on me. I got to make sure I do things in a smart way. So where is that balance in the same breath? I don't want to be living a life that's risk adverse and teaching my children to be risk adverse. Cause I think that's the worst thing that I could possibly do for them. Is that something that you juggle with?
[00:57:32] Alastair Humphreys: Absolutely. And there's a very fine line between recklessness. And bravery, very fine line. The trouble is that you don't know where the line is until you've gone across it. And, uh, yeah, increasingly, again, perhaps as I'm just becoming an old man, I just felt that that pushing that line eventually was just going to lead to something bad happening.
[00:57:56] Alastair Humphreys: And, and, and the rewards for pushing that line diminish as well. And, and, and also I've done it quite a few times, perhaps it might be more interesting to have a look at different ways of going about things, so yeah, step, consciously stepping away from that route was a, has been a conscious choice.
[00:58:18] Travis Bader: Have you had close calls?
[00:58:22] Alastair Humphreys: Uh, not, not really. And not many, to be honest. Um, so, um, I got mugged at gunpoint in Siberia, but then the guy, once I'd given him my wallet, uh, I was lost. So I then got out my map and he helped me navigate back to where I was wanting to go. So there's some, there's some good in good. Good sides in everyone.
[00:58:46] Alastair Humphreys: Um, and,
[00:58:47] Travis Bader: uh, sorry, can you say that? Can you say that one again? You were mugged at gunpoint and the same guy helped you?
[00:58:55] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah. So I was in, uh, Siberia in the, in the winter time on my bike. It was very cold. It was dark, minus 40 degrees and, uh, um, a car stopped. Um, a very, um, a couple of very drunk guys got out.
[00:59:09] Alastair Humphreys: One of them's waving his gun around. Give me your money, give me your money. So of course you give them some money. I had a little decoy wallet for exactly this circumstance with a little bit of money and just to appease them. And he's like, Oh, great. I've got your money. And then I'm like, Oh, excuse me.
[00:59:26] Alastair Humphreys: While, uh, while, while you're taking my wallet, can you, um. Give me some direction. So I got the map out and then the Russian people, when I cycled through Russia were so kind generally that he was like, Oh yeah. And he's helped with the navigation and they got into the car and drove off with my wallet. So, um, yeah, I found that a very interesting human experience.
[00:59:45] Travis Bader: That, yeah, that is funny. I think you're going to see, you're going to give another example there before I cut you off.
[00:59:54] Alastair Humphreys: Well, the other example is, is more, um, very much from your sort of world, really, when I was, um, crossing Iceland by packraft and there was a stretch of whitewater rapids, which looked, definitely looked beyond my skill level.
[01:00:07] Alastair Humphreys: I was with a friend at the time, Canadian guy, actually. And we were. Wrecking the room, walking up and down. And we had kind of had that gut feeling of, Hmm, this is beyond this. We shouldn't do it. And then I sort of uttered the immortal words of think how great this will look on YouTube, which then got, which then got my vanity and my ego going.
[01:00:27] Alastair Humphreys: And so I decided to packraft it. The moment I got into the current, I realized I was totally, totally out of my skill level. And I flipped and it was terrifying and absolutely horrific. I managed to get to the shore and then I was frantically blowing on my little whistle to stop Chris coming down the river afterwards.
[01:00:45] Alastair Humphreys: And I learned, I learned an important lesson. Then I also had forgotten to press go on the camera, so I didn't even get it on YouTube, but it proved to me a really important lesson that I've used many times since, which is, would I do this thing if nobody else found out about it? I, am I doing this adventure for myself or am I doing it to show off later on YouTube?
[01:01:09] Alastair Humphreys: So again, is this an intrinsic thing driven by me or is it a external sort of validation that I'm after? So yeah, don't do stuff just to look good on YouTube.
[01:01:19] Travis Bader: Do it for the gram, right? No, that's really good advice. Did you know in your gut before going through there that this wasn't a good idea?
[01:01:29] Alastair Humphreys: Yes, yes, I definitely did.
[01:01:30] Alastair Humphreys: And then I certainly did within about five seconds of paddling out into the current. Um, yeah, it was just way, way, I was completely, yeah. And then as you will well know, once you're out in the middle of the current. You're in it. You kind of got to go for it. Yeah.
[01:01:47] Travis Bader: You know, I, uh, I remember I had a, uh, this is prior to getting the commercial whitewater raft and there is a local river around here.
[01:01:55] Travis Bader: That's that's run commercially, but the commercial guys weren't running it at this point because I guess it was a bit too rough. And I was doing promotions for a, uh, Corona beer company that brought in Corona beer. So had this. Jeep all deckled out and Corona stuff and they give you a digital camera and which is brand new kind of stuff at the time and they were given away this, uh, inflatable boat all deckled out with Corona stuff on there.
[01:02:22] Travis Bader: And I thought maybe I'll just borrow this boat and I'll take it down. The river and anyways, we drive out to the river. I'm there with a buddy of mine. He's got the digital camera. Um, he looks, he says, I'm not doing this. This is, this is too, it's too rough. The water is going too fast. And, uh, there's kayakers that came in that we're looking at and they're like, yeah, no, we're not doing this.
[01:02:46] Travis Bader: And I look at over at my buddy. I'm like, are you kidding me? This is the safest I've ever seen it. Because I started getting of this mindset that, Like quite often when it looks really bad, it isn't bad. And it's these things that don't look bad are the things that you kind of got to watch out for. Like when you see the water bubbling up and down and over, generally you'll be like a cork and you can float over all of that.
[01:03:08] Travis Bader: It's strainers and, um, recircs and these sorts of things that you kind of have to watch out for. Anyways. I said, tell you what I'm going to put in, in the roughest area of this. I'm going to show you how safe this is. And then once I've convinced you of this, we'll, we'll just go down the river in, in the, in the less rough area.
[01:03:29] Travis Bader: Anyways, I'm walking down the, the side, the riverside to get into the river. He's got the camera. He's going to take pictures all the way through. And for whatever reason, like, you know, I was. Raised Catholic. I wouldn't say I'm a religious guy, but for whatever reason, I do a sign of the cross before getting into the, uh, into the river and I think deep down, I knew in my head that what I was doing was stupid, but you know, young, dumb ego, all the rest.
[01:03:53] Travis Bader: And so I look at it, I, I scout my line that I'm going to take. I got these goofy little oars on, on this, uh, inflatable boat and get them all set up. I've actually got a life jacket on now because, uh, another. Company had given me a life jacket. We used to put in where the commercial guys put in and we'd try and follow them so we could see the safe way to go.
[01:04:14] Travis Bader: And maybe they're safety kayakers would take pity if we, if we got into trouble and they'd rescue us. Anyways, I put in same as you way too fast. It was cold. The boat deflates a bit, um, immediately the paddles are not worth anything and I'm hands and feet trying to paddle over to get on my line. I don't make it to my line, I'm sucked into a re circ, then I'm sucked into a bigger re circ afterwards, I end up losing the boat, I almost lost my life, I remember I'm passing out I guess, cause you're losing oxygen was your, they say don't panic.
[01:04:49] Travis Bader: I didn't feel like I was panicking. I just felt like I was working as hard as I could to get up and out. I'm making every letter of the alphabet, trying to touch some green water to pull me out because the white water is so aerated. Anyways, my buddy's standing on the rock, taking pictures. He's like, I didn't know what to do.
[01:05:07] Travis Bader: I couldn't jump in and help you. There's nothing I could do. The only thing going through my head was if you don't make it on this one, the camera's going in the river too, because I don't want to be the guy who took pictures of his buddy drowning on the river. Anyways, I, uh, ended up getting spit out. I was going to swim over to the other side where the, my line was and where my head was, and I looked over to my left and I said, closer, I'm going to swim as hard as I can.
[01:05:31] Travis Bader: I won't give up until I get to shore. And despite all of that, the second that my body got into an area where it was. Calmer and I wasn't really affected by the flow of the river. It collapsed on my buddy, drags me out and I'm throwing up water and coughing out water. But, uh, yeah, funny, funny. Um, yeah. How that works.
[01:05:55] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah. I think there's a good reason that women live longer than men. They're less stupid.
[01:06:01] Travis Bader: That's it. And that's all it is. And again, it was ego. We didn't have Instagram. We didn't have YouTube at the time, but, uh, but we had a digital camera and these pictures are going to look good. Oh, well, um, is there anything else that we should be talking about, about your new book, about micro adventures?
[01:06:21] Travis Bader: Is there anything that we should be. Uh, letting people know about that. We haven't already.
[01:06:26] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah, I guess, I guess I'd like to, um, just explain a bit how I went from these massive, big global adventures onto small micro adventures, trying to encourage people to just get out at the weekend to what I've been spending the last year doing, which is going even.
[01:06:42] Alastair Humphreys: Smaller and more local than ever to, I committed to trying to spend just one year on the small map that I live on in Britain. We've got these little, these sort of hiking maps. Um, they, they, um, measure about 20 kilometers by 20 kilometers, a really small area. And I decided to go out once a week to explore a single one kilometer grid square.
[01:07:03] Alastair Humphreys: So one kilometer by one kilometer, try and see everything in that square once a week. What would happen? And I was a bit worried that I might be a bit bored doing it and a bit claustrophobic But I soon realized that there was just once you slow down and pay attention and be curious Decide consciously decide that I'm going to be interested in everything then suddenly everything becomes interesting and What I thought was going to be quite a boring year turned into one of the most fascinating Uh, journeys and learning experiences of my life.
[01:07:39] Alastair Humphreys: So I'm on a big mission at the moment to get everyone to just buy the local map for where they live and go out and find what adventure and wildness is right on your doorstep within a few miles of where you live. It's been a really eye opening experience.
[01:07:55] Travis Bader: You know, my wife got me into foraging. Um, I wasn't really into it.
[01:08:00] Travis Bader: She's loves gardening, foraging, all the rest. And she's like, there's this guy, he's got a book out. He's got a few books out. Hank, Sean, we're meeting up with them. Actually, we're going to go down to California, Sierra Nevada mountain range and going to do some foraging with them. So we went out, we did that and started really opening my eyes to like, we went out in the forest, we're doing morels, looking at wild onions and garlics and we're pine nuts.
[01:08:27] Travis Bader: And, and in your head, you're like, okay, you got to go to these exotic places and look at all these cool things that you can forage, but then when I started to become a bit more aware. You can make salads out of stuff you find growing out of your sidewalk right by your house. And this, this sounds like a very similar sort of a, uh, an analogy.
[01:08:48] Travis Bader: What would, can you walk me through what a day in adventuring locally, that micro local adventure would
[01:08:56] Alastair Humphreys: look like? Yeah, so, so I was limited to this one kilometer by one kilometer. And I would try to go and see every footpath or, um, hiking trail on there or some quite often they were towns. So then I'd try and cycle down every single street within this little area.
[01:09:12] Alastair Humphreys: But the countryside ones, it's interesting. You mentioned the forager as a sort of teacher to open your eyes because I was doing this on my own, but I used an app called seek made by iNaturalist. And it's one of those apps where you pointed at a plant and it tells you the name of what you're, what you're seeing.
[01:09:30] Alastair Humphreys: And then suddenly went, ah, I learned the name of this. thing. And then you start to see it all over the place. And I'd come home late and Google it and realize, Hey, you can put that into a salad. So exactly like you teach, but here teaching myself through an app was starting to learn about all this nature around me, which I'd spent my entire life ignoring.
[01:09:49] Alastair Humphreys: Cause I just thought Britain was boring and I needed to go to the ends of the world to have an adventure. So yeah, it was, it was, it was an exercise in slowing down. I try and take lots of photos and try and take really nice artistic. photos again, just to make me pay attention, to notice things, to look at things in different ways.
[01:10:07] Alastair Humphreys: So, you know, maybe I'd find the car that had been burned out and the police had been put a tape around like police have been here. And I try and take beautiful photos of stuff like that as well, just to make myself be interested in, in everything. And the more you become interested in stuff, the more you find, there's even more to learn and even more to learn.
[01:10:25] Alastair Humphreys: And suddenly. One small kilometre started to feel absolutely enormous and one small map felt way too big for a single year of exploration. So yeah, it was a really interesting self educational experience, I guess.
[01:10:43] Travis Bader: That approach sounds like ADHD heaven. There's always new things. There's always new hobbies.
[01:10:48] Travis Bader: There's always new, uh, avenues that you can start exploring. And speaking of apps, have you tried geocaching?
[01:10:55] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah. Geocaching is along the same sort of lines, isn't it? Of it, it's just an excuse to go somewhere you've never been before and to pay attention and be curious. And then you get excited. You find a little plastic tub with some little bits of rubbish.
[01:11:09] Alastair Humphreys: And it's not the reward. Isn't that, is it? The reward is. Going somewhere new. Um, and that's a very similar sort of spirit to, uh, to what I was doing with my maps. Yeah, I think geocaching is a brilliant thing for people to take their kids to do, isn't it? Just to get them out into the outdoors.
[01:11:24] Travis Bader: Oh, totally.
[01:11:25] Travis Bader: Yeah. It's a lot of fun. Maybe you find it. Maybe you don't. Maybe someone's moved it, but at the very least you're outside or you're in a different area. Maybe in a little urban area outside. Um, are there other apps that you use? You mentioned that Seek app.
[01:11:41] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah, Seek was brilliant. The other one that I found fantastic is called Merlin.
[01:11:45] Alastair Humphreys: And Merlin listens to birdsong and tells you the name of what you're listening to. And I, I always like birdsong, of course, it's kind of nice to hear birds, but suddenly I'm like, Oh wow, that's a chiff chaff. And then I Google it and it's like a tiny little thing that weighs six grams and it's flown all the way from Africa to be in England, to be in this little bush in the park.
[01:12:05] Alastair Humphreys: Wow. That's incredible. I just heard it going chiff chaff. Never paid any attention. And then now I learned the name of, I learned the name of this little dude and suddenly I care about it. So yeah, Merlin has been really good.
[01:12:17] Travis Bader: That's a cool one. Yeah. Merlin makes me is reminiscent of that old handheld game.
[01:12:22] Travis Bader: I don't know if you guys ever had that one. It's a little. It looks like a red telephone. My grandparents had one and he pressed the buttons. You can play tic tac toe or all the different anyways that, uh, Merlin. I think we're showing
[01:12:33] Alastair Humphreys: your age now, Travis.
[01:12:34] Travis Bader: Maybe, maybe I'm getting older here. I tell you, um, gray hairs are starting to come out.
[01:12:41] Travis Bader: Well, we'll make sure to get links to, uh, obviously to your book, to your website. Uh, anything else we should be linking to that we'll throw up in the description here for everyone.
[01:12:51] Alastair Humphreys: No, that would be great. So I've just written a book about spending a year close to home that I've called Local. So I think, yeah, Local would be, I'd love it if people would read Local.
[01:13:01] Alastair Humphreys: Um, then obviously I've written Microadventures and I've written books about, uh, cycling around the world. I've also written books for children, uh, one about cycling around the world. And I turned my story of rowing the Atlantic into a kid's book called The Girl Who Rowed the Ocean. Because I think we need more books about girls having crazy adventures.
[01:13:19] Travis Bader: Yeah, yeah, I agree. Cause there's lots of girls out there that have crazy adventures. That's what, you know, I'm watching your feed and I'm liking how you put the reviews up good and bad. And I'm finding that not
[01:13:34] Alastair Humphreys: good. Jen, I don't really bother with the good ones, but I, yeah, I put on Instagram. I use the hashtag not very glowing book reviews and I read out my one star terrible reviews.
[01:13:47] Travis Bader: It's a very different approach. A very refreshing approach to what you typically find on social media. And you took the same approach with, uh, podcasting. So when I first started this podcasting, I had no idea what I was doing. I'd been on one podcast. I listened to one podcast live. But aside from that, I've never listened to a podcast.
[01:14:07] Travis Bader: So I got my recorder. I got things set up. I had a couple of friends. We would start recording and I would edit every, um, every, uh, every, and I try and make it clean and professional and the amount of work and effort that I put into it and I found after a while. That there not only is that a heck of a lot of work, but that level of perfectionism that you're trying to put in detracts from the realism and from the heart of what you're trying to put out there.
[01:14:34] Travis Bader: And I find the same sort of thing when you did your podcast, even your first one, you're giving your intro. And you had to start again and go through it and say it. And he says, you just left it all in. I thought that's refreshing. Just like when you put the not so glowing book reviews, that's refreshing.
[01:14:50] Travis Bader: Is that something that you find is, uh, you've had to learn to do, or is that just something you've always done?
[01:14:59] Alastair Humphreys: No, it's very. much a learned thing to try and be grown up and brave enough to say to the world, Hey, I'm not perfect, or I'm not very good at this, but I'm trying my best. And, um, and weirdly, the more you admit your weaknesses, the more they kind of become superpowers.
[01:15:20] Alastair Humphreys: So when I played my violin through Spain, if you look on YouTube, My midsummer morning on YouTube, you'll see I'm really bad. I'm not just being British polite. I was terrible, but that weakness, I'm being brave enough to just say to the people of Spain, I'm really bad, but I'm going to try my best. People responded to that and they gave me money.
[01:15:41] Alastair Humphreys: I was sucked, but people were still giving me money. So yeah, just daring yourself to admit to the world. I'm not perfect. And then actually sort of becomes a weird superpower.
[01:15:51] Travis Bader: I like that a lot. Do your best every day. Don't worry about the blemishes. We all got them. And in fact, sometimes it's what my wife would always tell me, and I try so hard to make something perfect.
[01:16:02] Travis Bader: She's like, perfect. Isn't beautiful.
[01:16:04] Alastair Humphreys: Yeah, it can be. So I should suggest today, um, I was looking down someone's Instagram feed and all the pictures were so beautiful and they all had the same sort of color palette. Uh, I just thought, man, this is so. Boring, really boring. Um, so yeah, I think, um, yeah, I agree with that.
[01:16:23] Alastair Humphreys: Perfect can be a bit
[01:16:24] Travis Bader: boring. Yeah. Perfect. Isn't beautiful. Maybe I wonder if she's saying something about me there. Um, I don't know how to take that now. All right. Well, Alistair, uh, anything else we should touch on?
[01:16:39] Alastair Humphreys: No, I think, uh, ending on your lack of beauty and your imperfection sounds an ideal way to wrap this up.
[01:16:45] Alastair Humphreys: I
[01:16:45] Travis Bader: like that Alistair. Thank you so much for being on the silver core podcast. I really enjoyed this conversation. Thank
[01:16:51] Alastair Humphreys: you. Likewise. It's been good fun. Thank you.