Antonia is a Travel Writer and TV Producer who’s seen her fair share of adventures. She’s written three books, penned numerous articles for magazines, and set an unlikely Guinness World Record for driving a tuk-tuk from Bangkok to Brighton.
Each book of Antonia’s details an incredible journey. Her latest book, Land of the Dawn-lit Mountains: A Journey Across Arunachal Pradesh – India’s Forgotten Frontier, shares her story of an exciting three-month journey on foot and motorcycle exploring the little known north-eastern corner of India.
In a conversation on the Tough Girl Podcast, Antonia shared a wealth of insight on female travel and creating a life of adventure.
Plan Ahead and Break Things Down
Antonia’s wild adventures began in 2005 when her friend asked her if she wanted to drive from England to Bangkok in a pink tuk-tuk. Six months later, they were driving down the Gobi Desert in their very pink tuk-tuk. The inspiration for the trip came from her friend’s mental health recovery and led to the duo raising £50,000 for a mental health charity.
In order to plan the trip, Antonia left her job and planned the excursion with her friend for six months straight. From planning the route, getting sponsors to raise money for charity, and getting a tuk-tuk the expedition took a lot of forethought.
When the adventure began, the craziness of driving in Bangkok with only paper maps was a surreal experience. The adventurous female duo got into the habit of not thinking about the journey as a whole, but just where they wanted to get that night. Antonia related, “With every big journey, the first bit is always terrifying and surreal. Then, very quickly you’re into it and it seems normal. All your fears are gone and it’s just exciting.”
Work Things Out and Believe in Yourself
Of course, driving a tuk-tuk through country after country had its challenges. From breaking the front suspension of the tuk-tuk to experiencing an earthquake and having visas that ran out, the pair ran into a number of obstacles. But with every challenge, somehow everything worked out. When it comes to embarking on an adventure, there’s almost always a solution. You just have to figure out what it is.
On this expedition, Antonia learned that if you really want to do something, you’re capable of it. Antonia had never done anything like this before, but she worked it out and was able to accomplish her goal. Antonia advises fellow ladyventurers to remember that you’re capable of a lot more than you think you are.
Research and Overcome Your Fears
On Antonia’s next big expedition, she embarked on The Ho Chi Minh Trail. Antonia used old military maps and books to figure out where she could go to find the most interesting places.
Antonia decided that she wanted to test herself and see if she was up for solo travel, a totally different experience than travelling with just one other person. As a solo traveller, you have to be more self-sufficient. If things go wrong, you are the only one to solve problems.
Antonia had countless fears before leaving for her trip. The first day she was terrified, but just a few days later she was loving it. It turns out, the fear is so much worse than the reality. Of course, there were dangerous moments on the journey, but they still weren’t as bad as the fears that kept Antonia up at night before the trip.
Work Hard and Save
With most adventures, the financial side of preparation can be intimidating. For Antonia’s Ho Chi Minh Trail trip, she self-funded the entire thing. She knew she was going to do the trip and write a book about it so she worked hard to save up money and self-fund. Antonia often travels simply and cheaply to keep expenses low. For her adventure in India, Antonia had an advance from her publisher, used a grant, and paid for the rest herself. In contrast, her tuk-tuk adventure was sponsored and raised money for charity. It’s worth taking the time to look at your funding options and decide what will work best for you and your trip.
Antonia came back from her tuk-tuk trip with no money and no flat. She spent six months readjusting. “If you’re going to do a big adventure, make sure you have an idea of what you’re going to do when you get back,” Antonia recommends. “Put money aside so you know how you’re going to survive.”
Meet the Locals and Drop Your Excuses
As a solo woman traveller, Antonia was received by locals with great surprise. They were never unfriendly and always full of smiles. With two months in a completely remote location, Antonia rarely felt lonely because she was so engrossed in the experience. She constantly met people, heard their stories, and learned from them. “It’s like brain food. I just feel alive and stimulated,” Antonia described.
Throughout her travels, Antonia has been struck by how cheerful people seemed and how much more content they were with their lives than we are in the West. In these tribal communities, they live tough lives in the wilderness, but they’re so much happier. This made Antonia think a lot about our sedentary, screen-addicted lifestyles.
Antonia understands that it’s very easy to make excuses about why you can’t make these trips. You have to simply stop making excuses and go.
Listen to Antonia on the Tough Girl Podcast
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