The adventurer and author, Alastair Humphreys could have accepted the offer of a job as a Science Teacher.

He enjoyed his training and was a good teacher. Alastair wrote a letter to Mr Walker thanking him for the job offer but explained he was off to cycle around the world instead. It was more of a letter to himself. A written statement of intent which lead to four years sleeping in a tent.

Many adventures followed including a row across the Atlantic and walks across Iceland and India. The South Pole almost made it onto the list but the next adventure turned out to be the adventure of a family, responsibility and being needed.

Alastair's travel adventures weren't over, they just became much smaller. These days Alastair designs his micro adventures for himself and others. He's looking to make them short, simple, local, cheap, fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding.

If you want to understand where Alastair's adventure philosophy is going it's worth listening all the way to the end of the episode when he plays his violin.

This is his philosophy of adventure going beyond travel. Travel is what used to take him outside his comfort zone but do it as much as he did and you lose your fear because you're confident you can handle whatever travel has to throw at you.

But busking in Spain without money or credit cards as backup. Sticking to his self imposed rule that he'd spend everything he'd earned before the day was out.

That means waking up with no money every morning for a month. That's quite an adventure when you've been learning the violin for just 7 months and on a good day have got as far as Grade 1.

Alastair is a man who understands that the ordinary needs to be balanced with the extraordinary. That fear is the adventure.

He doesn't seem to think of terms of success and failure. This is a man for whom sharing his warts and all experience is what's it's all about. Now that's what I call a Teacher.

Show Notes

We chatted to Alastair at the British Library. He talked to us about:
  • His natural personality of nervousness, stress and hate of late 
  • Coaxing himself to become more curious, more spontaneous, more relaxed and more adventurous  
  • Differentiate between the things where you have control and those you don't i.e. don't get frustrated with the waves because you can't change them
  • Confidence is built from doing things and the trick is to keep the momentum going
  • The impact of his adventures on his life - and becoming more of the person he wants to be
  • Learning to focus on what matters in life
  • The power of laughter when things aren't going so well
  • Cycling 46k miles around the world which took him 4 years, through 60 countries and 5 continents - all on a total budget of £7k
  • Cycling around the world when you begin to understand how little of the world you've seen 
  • Walked across India and Iceland
  • Ultramarathons and expeditions across oceans, deserts, the Arctic and Greenland
  • On wanting to become a tough guy like Ranulph Fiennes
  • Summoning up the guts to take on an adventure when normal guys like him don't do adventures - they live normal lives
  • The moment he committed to his first adventure - when he wrote a letter to Mr Walker saying thanks but no thanks to the offer of a job as a Science Teacher
  • The power of writing a letter to tip his head full of daydreams and insecurities into action 
  • Why cycling is the perfect way to travel
  • Wanting to break free from ordinary and do something extraordinary and difficult for the first time in my life
  • The chip on his shoulder at being so ordinary and average
  • His habit of getting his school work done immediately and then relaxing 
  • His spur of the moment decision to join the Territorial Army and why he enjoyed the experience
  • Underestimating the horribleness of the adventure and craving a normal life
  • The uselessness of using the finish line as motivation because it's so far away   
  • When during the 3rd year of 4, he finally started to enjoy his trip
  • Solitude and Loneliness being two sides of the same coin   
  • When he came back, noticing that his values hadn't changed but his focus had - he was far more aware who he was and what mattered to him
  • The two years he spent talking in schools about his adventures  
  • Ditching his planned South Pole trip with a mate in favour of time with his son 
  • The routine of the school run
  • Learning to make a living from adventure writing
  • Becoming a brand
  • Switching from a few big adventures to many small adventures
  • Being motivated by the opportunity to become self-aware and not the finish line
  • Understanding that the reasons he started his adventures were no longer relevant and he needed to find a different way 
  • How he used the violin to bring fear and excitement back into his life
  • Why travel doesn't have a monopoly on adventure  
  • The benefits of becoming more childlike in his approach
  • Not coping with the routine of being a father
  • Designing short meaningful adventures for others
  • Learning the violin for seven months (and still being rubbish)
  • Walking 500 miles for one month through Spain with his violin, no money and no credit card
  • His No.1 rule of spending the money earned each day from busking (120 Euro's in one month) - he spent it all so he'd be back to no money and a state of fear
  • Looking for the opportunities to have micro-adventures in nature
  • Scheduling a tree climb once a month into his Google Calendar
  • Learning that it's more important to have a lifetime of small little adventures than it is to do a few big adventures
  • The ongoing wrestling match he has with himself
Living Dangerously by Ranulph Fiennes
Seth Godin Blog
Do Something Different 
My Midsummer Morning


Creators & Guests

Neil Witten
Entrepreneur, Business Advisor, Podcaster @lifedonediff, Co-Founded @StoryStreamAI now building & You only get 1 go, live consciously 🏂
Ray Richards
Converting small steps into the unknown, into the known
Home of the podcast. Inspiring interviews with people who go against the grain & live their lives differently. @nwitten & @rayrich

What is

Do you wonder whether there’s another way?
Another, more creative, more meaningful approach to living your life. Well there is and there’s a growing movement of people from all kinds of walks of life who are proving that the way we end up doing what we do in life is often a side effect of external forces. Rather than a deliberate, conscious and authentic set of choices that have come from you and your unique needs. What are you chasing? Success? Safety? Fame? Fortune? Recognition?
Have you stopped to think recently why you’re doing what your doing with your life? Are the stories that you're creating today the ones that you hope your grandchildren will be telling to their children? Are you creating your legacy?