Hannah Engelkamp is a travel writer and former outdoor-magazine editor who went from working on adventure articles to going on her own extraordinary adventures. In May 2013, Hannah set off to walk 1,000 miles around the circumference of Wales with a donkey called Chico.
From this out of the ordinary experience, Hannah learned much about adventures and what it takes to change your own life.
1. Get Inspired and Go
While writing an article about the Wales Coast Path, Hannah had an epiphany. The new circular 1,000-mile route around her home country was something she had to do. What else was she going to do next summer? Several weeks later at an adventure film event, Hannah saw a film with a man crossing the Sahara with a number of animals. She then knew that she needed to take a donkey on her journey.
Armed with her ideas, Hannah started telling everyone about what she was going to do. With the accountability ensuring she wouldn’t back out, Hannah began to plan her adventure a year in advance.
Hannah shows us just how important it is to go with your gut and do what you need to do in order to stick with it.
2. Make a Big Commitment
Because Hannah had been freelancing for a ski magazine, she was in the unique position to have few ties holding her back. In the end, it was the mental side of stopping what she was doing and doing something completely different that was the challenge.
“You get used to the job you have and the lifestyle you’re living,” Hannah explained. There are plenty of things to keep you still, content in the life you have. Stopping everything was a big life event to navigate.
While the life change proposed a challenge, Hannah found it easier for her to take off for three months instead of three weeks. Finding a time when things aren’t going on for several weeks in the summer can be difficult, but the mindset of taking months off made things more serious.
If you’ve found yourself struggling to actually take the time off to go on an out of the ordinary adventure, try playing with the idea of different timeframes. Whether it’s going for a weekend or several weeks or months, you may find that it was the mental side of things holding you back.
3. Solve Problems On the Go
Before the trip, Hannah had no experience with donkeys or animals in general. Although she told herself she could always change that aspect of the adventure, it quickly became apparent that the donkey was what people were most interested in about the expedition.
As Hannah prepared for the trip, she learned of the 783 kissing gates and 410 stiles on the path, obstacles that a donkey could not cross over. At that point, Hannah realised she’d bitten off way more than she could chew and spent six months trying to find a solution. In the end, there was no solution and so she just set out.
With 26 maps, Hannah worked out a route using forestry tracks, farmers tracks, and main roads when needed in order to get her donkey around the obstacles. While something like this would have stopped many from going on the trip in the first place, Hannah persevered and went on to have an incredible experience. Don’t let ‘unsolvable’ problems stop you from the adventure of a lifetime!
4. Learn and Adjust
Before beginning the expedition, Hannah’s fears were mostly donkey-related. There’s just no forcing a donkey to do anything. Hannah also had to deal with the donkey’s own fears. In the beginning, her donkey was frightened by everything, making both donkey and woman very jumpy. This was far from the meditative walk Hannah had imagined.
Those first three months of the adventure were challenging, especially with Hannah and her donkey still getting used to each other. It took one frustrating day for Hannah to throw down her donkey’s rope and walk up a hill herself to realise that the donkey would simply follow her. The pair then walked without the rope whenever could.
Hannah’s story is a great example of how much you learn while in the middle of an adventure. Little things like this can make a big difference when it comes to your pace and the success of your expedition.
5. Document Your Journey
Hannah found that the best parts of the adventure were the places in between the destination areas. Of course, there were all the places people go to because they’re beautiful, but Hannah particularly enjoyed the unexpected places you only see in the middle of the journey.
The travel writer intended to document her journey from the start and found that doing this helped make sense of hardships. Because she was documenting her experiences, Hannah could see things one step removed and take things in stride. This documentation later became a book and a movie!
Besides remembering the incredible moments of your journey, documenting your adventures can also help you get through the difficult parts.
6. Just Go
Hannah’s final advice for those craving an adventure is to just go. She advised, “Don’t worry too much about where, how, and how long. Get the tools you need and head out.” Hannah has uncovered the difficulty that so many have actually making adventures happen and avoided it by just going.
The adventurer and travel writer also advises travellers to be open and ask people for help. Making meaningful associations with people can be a beautiful part of an adventure.
Personal website - www.seasidedonkey.co.uk
Twitter - @hannahengelkamp
Facebook - @SeasideDonkey
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