I blame it all on The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. Finding new lands at the top of a huge tree where characters such as Moon-face and Mr Saucepan lived seemed utterly enthralling to my seven-year-old self.
I wanted to be an explorer.
But then, of course, I grew up and my world changed … to Narnia. I lived in this make-believe kingdom for quite a lot of my childhood, reading and re-reading all seven books of the CS Lewis series until I knew them mostly by heart.
I still yearned to be an explorer.
School, university and a ‘proper’ job in marketing brought a different slant to my dreams of adventure for a few years, but then I discovered overlanding.
I was going to be an explorer!
Three years as an overland tour leader in Africa and the Middle East was the start of my life as a traveller and adventurer. I haven’t stopped travelling since then and I hope I never will.
I firmly believe that travel is a force for good if it’s undertaken sensitively, though conversely, it has the potential to do great harm too.
‘Responsible tourism’ might sound rather too worthy to be any fun at all, but in fact, we all have to get real and get responsible about how we travel these days, or we will destroy some of the very things we travel for. Who wants to visit somewhere you’re not welcome because of the overcrowding from tourism? Why would you want to go and see a famous sight that has been degraded by litter and disturbed by too many feet? What surprise or delight is there in tasting food that’s ‘just like you get back home’?
To me, real travel is all about finding the authentic, avoiding the overcrowded, challenging preconceptions, tasting diversity, and cherishing the adventure even if it’s out of your comfort zone – or perhaps because it is. It doesn’t matter whether the adventure is on your doorstep, within your country, at the other side of the world … or even at the top of a faraway tree.
Look under the TRAVEL category for blogs about my travels.