My career as an adventurer began when I was a young boy, sitting on the bedroom floor with my back against the warm radiator. I loved reading books and these became my secret opening into the world of explorers and their incredible journeys. Reading these stories of daring men and women and the amazing places they visited made me daydream that one day I might do something similar.
Now that I have been lucky enough to have my own adventures – cycling around the world, crossing the Atlantic Ocean by both sailing boat and rowing boat, walking across southern India amongst them – I wanted to highlight some adventurers and explorers to a younger audience so that more people might be inspired to dream of travelling the world.
Adventures gave me a growth mindset and taught me to be more self-confident, to solve problems, to communicate with people, and to accept that things don’t always go to plan. I have learned how people live in different parts of the world and experienced the kindness of strangers everywhere – from people rich and poor, and all different races and religions. Adventure is the best education I have ever had.
The characters I wrote about in Against the Odds teach us another important lesson: that things in life do not always go to plan. Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes we try hard and still fail. Sometimes we dream of going one way but end up in a completely different place. And all these things are OK, because we see that the adventurers in my book all have fantastic experiences and their rewards are even sweeter for achieving them the hard way.
My first book, Great Adventurers, showcased 20 adventurers who had inspired my own journeys: they were my personal heroes and I wanted to share them with a wider audience. For Against the Odds I narrowed down the list of people to include by only telling the stories of people whose experiences involved overcoming struggles – both on their journeys and in their lives.
Some of my favourite characters include Jeanne Baret, a French botanist who was forbidden to sail on French naval journeys because she was a woman. So she dressed up as a man, called herself Jean, and tricked everyone on her way to being the first woman to travel round the world.
I also liked the story of Karen Darke, a keen climber who was paralysed in an accident. Her story of overcoming many difficulties to not only tackle many incredible expeditions, but also to win gold at the Paralympic Games is inspiring.
I hope these characters will make readers dream of having adventures of their own.
All you need is curiosity, enthusiasm, and a willingness to begin today. Get the local map for where you live and see what discoveries you can make in your neighbourhood.