The world is ripe with avenues for adventure, yet how many of us make the most of it?
Travelling takes courage and commitment, and great intentions are easily forgotten amid the hubbub of everyday life. We start the year full of grand ambitions to backpack around Vietnam or kayak through Colombia. And then – just like that – our dreams disappear down the back of the sofa, alongside a half-eaten packet of Jaffa Cakes.
But life isn’t going to come and get you. To savour the richness of adventure, you have to track it down and seize it by the shoulders.
To inspire you, we’ve pulled together motivational quotes from some of the world’s most intrepid travellers.
From Wasfia Nazreen, the first Bangladeshi to climb the Seven Summits, to Levison Wood, the first person to walk the length of the Nile, these explorers would have got nowhere without that first and crucial step into the unknown.
Soak up their wisdom on the power of travel, and make 2018 the year when you do something extraordinary:
On the kindness of strangers
“You learn to talk to people. You learn that people are generally kind-hearted and will often go massively out of their way to take you somewhere. You’ll meet some fascinating characters. I have been picked up by mujahideen fighters, photographers, artists, priests, smugglers; the entire spectrum of humanity. There are risks, obviously, but probably no more than getting in a taxi. Oh, and you’ll learn patience.”
– Levison Wood, the first person to walk the length of the Nile
On the joy of the wilderness
“I remember the first time my senses clicked and reacted to the wilderness. We were in the delta and went for a short walk around camp. We set facing an open area with hundreds of animals around. Birds, buffalos, elephants, giraffes, wildebeest, hundreds around everywhere. I closed my eyes when something clicked: I could hear everything at the same time yet be able to distinguish each sound… I felt alive for the first time and I realised I loved all of it.”
– Conservationist Adjany Costa, who works with the Ministry of Environment in Angola
On stretching yourself
“There is a very blurry line between the things we can’t do and the things that we can. Maybe people, maybe the world writes things off as impossible a little too quickly, when they really aren’t – when they just haven’t reached out and figured out how to utilize their resources to the fullest degree or created those pioneering systems in their lives. I think that it is everyone’s obligation they owe to themselves and to their lives to figure out their own way up their own mountain.”
– Erik Weihenmayer, the first and only blind person to conquer the Seven Summits
On embracing the unknown
“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world. You are surrounded by adventure. You have no idea of what is in store for you, but you will, if you are wise and know the art of travel, let yourself go on the stream of the unknown and accept whatever comes in the spirit in which the gods may offer it.”
– Ethnographer Freya Stark, who defied gender expectations to travel extensively across the Middle East from the 1930s onwards
On the delight of the unexpected
“The world is larger than our notions of it, and the only folly is to think you know someone or somewhere, can anticipate its movements or have travelled beyond surprise. The beauty of travel, as of love or terror, is that it regularly turns all your ideas on your head and reminds you that you really know nothing at all.
– Travel writer Pico Iyer, the author of 12 books including The Art of Stillness and The Man Within My Head
On listening to your gut
“Don’t over think anything – it’s so easy to talk yourself out of something. Before I left to paddle board the length of England I had done very little paddling. I borrowed a board and paddle from my club and bought a small tent. I planned my route on Ordnance Survey’s app and off I went. If I had dwelled on that for long I would have found a million excuses not to do it.”
– Adventure athlete and environmental campaigner Lizzie Carr, the first person to to paddleboard the length of England via its connected waterways
On connecting with people
“We need to create a sense of connectedness… As we’ve digitized our planet and created these weapons of mass distribution we’ve somehow created this sense of detachment, almost jealousy. People feel inept, empathy is going and I think is tarnished a little bit. So the idea of getting into nature, the idea of connecting over stories and sitting around a campfire or having time to sit and have drinks versus slam them is a cool thing.”
– Eco-explorer David de Rothschild, who has motorbiked through the mountains of Mongolia and paddled down Brazil’s Xingu River to raise awareness of environmental destruction
On living big
“[Sometimes if] you live an idealistic life, you tend to box yourself in this small world. We just have to trust there’s such a bigger world out there. If we respect our intuition, and work honestly and with patience, everything will be taken care of… None of us knows when we’re going to exit this planet. We just have to trust our intuition and not waste it living someone else’s life.”
– Activist and climber Wasfia Nazreen, the first Bangladeshi to climb the Seven Summits
On building self-awareness
“You do find out about yourself, about your strength and stamina… perhaps it is a form of escape. I am restless. I don’t mind leaving this comfortable, static life. I could live a year on my own in a remote village.”
– Michael Palin, travel writer and adventurer
On the power of action
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”
– Aviator Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic
On facing down adversity
“Discomfort, pain, and anxiety are probably the very core of a good trip. If you have an easy time of it, you’re having a vacation. If you’re really suffering, then you’re travelling.”
– Paul Theroux, travel writer and novelist
On creating opportunity
“I want people to be inspired to live a life that’s their own, but also to know that the world is an incredible place with so much opportunity. We don’t have to pigeonhole ourselves but we should all be free to dream.”
– Marine biologist Dr. Asha de Vos, who helped to launch Sri Lanka’s first marine conservation research and education organisation
On breaking comfort zones
“I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”
– Bill Bryson, best-selling travel writer
On courage and stamina
“The mountains of your life are out there. You are climbing them right now. No matter how fast/slow you go, you will reach your destination as long as you move. Everything is possible now”
– Arunima Sinha, the world’s first female amputee to climb Mount Everest
Where will your next adventure be?
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