Inspiration takes many forms and comes from many places. I trace my wanderlust to my very ordinary childhood. A childhood in 70’s England with not much travel, unless you count Skegness and Cromer, but plenty of inspiration if you look hard enough.
Tarzan on TV, the books of Len Deighton and the epic TV travels of Alan Wicker and Micheal Palin. They all started a fire, but the one thing that really turned it into a raging inferno in my mind, was one very short TV news bulletin, one incredible man, and one unputdownable book. The man of whom I speak, is the splendidly and extravagantly named, Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes and the book is To the Ends of the Earth: The Transglobe Expedition. I own it still, and dip into it regularly for inspiration…
This stirring tale of British pluck and perseverance resonated in my young mind, but my mind was also full of crippling doubt – surely adventure is just for others, not for me… a fat, middle class, asthmatic nobody from the centre of England – people like me did not go on adventures, they went to school, college and joined the wage slave army. That was to be my fate…
“The gladdest moment in human life is a departure into unknown lands.” – Sir Richard Burton
Fast forward around 35 years, and I’m suffering an acute and persistent ache, an ache that will not go away, despite everything that I try to do. It’s in my bones and in my soul. The ache is for adventure – for a different sort of life. After a brief mid-life crisis where I became unhealthily obsessed with the notion of hippy like self-sufficiency and living off the land, with only my beautiful rare breed pigs for company, I began to daydream of the different possibilities that could take way this terrible ache, and hopefully not destroy my marriage…
I have been extremely privileged in my life but something was broken inside me and instinctively, I knew that the only thing that would fix it would be the drug of travel, a lot of travel, in fact ENDLESS travel! A dream that had been long buried in the pursuit of career and money.
Like many addicts, I sought the company of other addicts to feed my hunger. I wanted to know the who, the what, the where and the why of adventure travel. Then one day in 2016, I stumbled upon this….
Looking back at it now, this is surely the absolute very birth of our dream – the moment of conception, if you will. I’ll leave that analogy right there…
The idea that someone was doing what we dreamed of doing, right now, at this very moment, was intoxicating! But the crippling doubts lingered… How could WE do it, how could we even afford it? It seemed utterly impossible as they were surely eccentric millionaires or trust fund kids and just doing it for the ‘insta’?! No?
The intrepid Bell family from South Africa, or A2A Expedition as they are collectively known in the Overlanding world, are not millionaires and not held aloft by Daddies bulging trust fund. They are a normal family doing very unusual and inspiring things. For me, they define the authentic essence of Vehicle Dependant Overlanding – they travel for the joy of travelling. Its clear that the destination is NOT the goal…
After some very brief interactions through Facebook, I thanked them for their sincere encouragement for our aspirations, and made the customary offer of hospitality, if they should ever find themselves in our neck of the woods… little expecting the swift reply that they could be with us by the end of the week!’ Yikes!
So a couple of weeks later, we found ourselves, trundling around the beautiful hills of Maranello Italy, playing host to Overlanding Glitterati!
Much fine beer, whiskey and beer infused chicken were consumed over the next days (you don’t invite Overlanders expecting them to stay for a day!). Many questions were asked, and their patient answers only offered more encouragement and genuine inspiration. If we achieve what we set out to do, it will be, in no small measure, down to the Bell family and their unstinting support and encouragement. We salute you Bells!
“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
You can get their books here if you want to learn more about their truly inspirational travels.
The dream began to feel possible..maybe. Just maybe, if the planets aligned, we could pull this off. We could travel the world independently and make a life so very different from what we had now.. We just needed to save LOTS of money, find a vehicle, prepare it, plan the journey, prepare ourselves, sell our worldly possessions and that was it… simple..!
“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” – Anna Quindlen
I cannot pretend that what we are planning, is anything other than a hugely daunting task, but as you may know, a daunting task is only made up of smaller achievable tasks (hopefully not so daunting in themselves!), so with a little planning and lots of red wine, we will get the job done! You can pay thousands for that sort of management training.. you’re welcome!
The internet is a great source of information and inspiration for Overlanding. We found many groups and organisations that even now, continue to provide great help to us with our preparations for our expedition. In particular, through Facebook and YouTube, we discovered so many different people that are living this dream life already, and their tireless willingness to share their knowledge and experience is also a major part of our preparation.
Here is just a few of the notable people, organisations and publications that have provided inspiration and assistance to us, along with the mighty A2A obviously….
- Tucks Truck
- Polaris Overland
- Live Work Wander
- GHT Overland Podcast
- The YouTube videos of Lifestyle Overland
- The YouTube videos of ExpeditionOverland
- Overland Journal
- Alloy+Grit Magazine
- PanAmerican Travelers Association – Facebook
- Overlanding Association
- Overland Sphere
- Overland Bound
- Expedition Portal
- and many, many others…
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu