EmmaLucy Cole is a UK-based speaker, writer, explorer and researcher. She is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Associate Fellow of Higher Education Academy as a lecturer and co-director of the Vicarious Festival of Travel Storytelling. EmmaLucy is currently studying towards a PhD at the University of Bristol, researching how travel writers represent Arabic and Middle Eastern (SWANA) cultures.
After over two decades spent studying and representing North African and Middle Eastern cultures, in 2011 EmmaLucy decided to sell everything she owned in order to spend six weeks with a Bedouin tribe in Sinai, learning Arabic and researching local culture. Two years later she finally left, not only having gained a ginger Bedouin cat (called Bryan) and a myriad of stories, but also witnessing first-hand some of the ways in which marginalised groups can be misrepresented.
With this habit of visiting places and forgetting to leave, she has developed the concept of Downward Exploration: rather than travelling long distances and seeing many places superficially, this type of exploration allows us to focus in-depth on communities and local environments, learning about the cultures, habits, food and history – and forming connections which allow for deeper understanding and more ethical representations.
In 2018 EmmaLucy attended the Adventure Travel Film Festival in London and decided that motorcycles could be a powerful tool for connecting with people in marginalised cultures; crossing gender divides and enabling mobility and independence whilst on the road researching. She passed her test within a few months, bought a Triumph, and began exploring. She has presented talks at events such as the Overland Event UK about the joys and challenges of being a solo woman researcher, explorer and biker.
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Who is EmmaLucy and what does she do
Her early life growing up and spending time in the outdoors
Not being sporty
Doing a degree in Fine Art and a Masters in English Literature
Being interested in Nomadic Groups
Being inspired by the English Patient book
Being invited to spend time in Egypt
Her passion for learning languages
Learning Arabic for the past 12 years
Going for 6 weeks and ending up staying for 2 years
Not being able to earn money in 2008 in the UK
Selling everything she owned and doing some basic teaching to earn money
Living in Sinai and what day to day life was like
Living in a hut by the edge of the red sea
Deciding to move back to the UK
Studying for her PhD at the University of Bristol
The concept of downward exploration
Wanting to learn more by going back to the same places
Writing (reflective and observational) while travelling
Film and photography
What adventure means to EmmaLucy
Learning how to ride a motorbike before her 40th birthday
Handling challenging situations
Vicarious Festival - Celebrating cultural diversity though travel literature and photography.
Getting into sports, health and fitness
Figuring out what she enjoyed and what felt good
Food and culture
Becoming a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS)
Coping during Covid and not being able to travel
Funding this lifestyle
Final words of advice and learning how to say no