65. Adventurer and Author Alastair Humphreys on Cycling the World, Rowing the Atlantic and Chasing Laurie Lee through Spain - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode 65
May 14 , 2019

65. Adventurer and Author Alastair Humphreys on Cycling the World, Rowing the Atlantic and Chasing Laurie Lee through Spain

Alastair Humphreys left Yorkshire one day on his bike and didn’t return for four years, cycling through an incredible 60 countries. He’s walked across India, rowed across the Atlantic, run six marathons through the Sahara, crossed Iceland on foot, busked through Spain by facing his worst fears of performing (badly) in public and having found all that adventure hard when real life came calling, has pioneered the concept of #microadventures. A motivational and inspiration conversation with this intrepid explorer.


On this episode we cover:


The huge interest in his concept of ‘Microadventures’

How real life gets in the way of big, long adventures

Exploring the world two miles away from home

How we can all find adventures at home

Erling Kagge the Norwegian explorer

How weeks and month can fly by but the hours of a microadventure being very slow

How removing the things you don’t need in life makes more

Levison Wood and sacrificing personal relationships

Big expeditions being incredibly selfish thing

His new book My Midsummer Morning

Being inspired by Laurie Lee

Wanting to busk around Spain but not playing any instrument

Being terrified by public speaking

Being terrible at the violin (video evidence!)

Turning up in Spain and emptying his pockets of money

His terrifying first ‘gig’ in Vigo in Galicia

Being more scared of this than rowing the Atlantic Ocean

His magical journey across Spain

The beautiful landscapes from Galicia, Castile down to Madrid

Cooking on campfires and sleeping under the stars

Being the happiest he’s been in many years

Not putting any thoughts into walking 500 miles

The biggest adventure being the first time he busked

Busking being everything he’d ever dreaded

The old Spanish man who gave him his first Euro

Living like an absolute king

Earning a grand total of 120 euros in a month

Being able to afford bread and bananas on the same day

Laurie Lee’s wonderfully evocative discretions of Madrid

Fresh seafood being brought into Madrid on ice on a train

Spending a lot of time of hilltops and walking through villages

The fine line between loneliness and solitude when travelling

Being touched by the kindness of strangers

Crossing the Sierra de Guadarrama towards Madrid

Spending four years cycling round the world

How cycling is his favourite way to travel

Being curious about the physical and mental challenge of travelling the world

The masochistic urge to make life more uncomfortable

Cycling from Yorkshire to Cape Town via Europe, the Middle East and East Africa

Crossing the Atlantic on a sailing boat

Cycling from Ushuaia in Patagonia all the way up to Northern Alaska

Getting the boat from Alaska to Asia

Cycling from North Eastern to Siberia back to England

What his parents were thinking

Scuppering his plans to become a teacher

Saving up £7000 and living on just this for four years

‘Living like a total tramp’ and being close to quitting

Completely underestimated how hard and lonely it would be

Having cold showers because he hates them

Whipping himself with reeds (maybe for the next project)

Whether you stop and appreciate travel when you’re crossing 60 countries

Being overjoyed to earn £300 for an article for the Guardian on his journey

How life offers choices to earn more or spend less

The realisation he could cycle round the world forever

Being jaded by ‘another invitation to visit a nomad in his hut’

Running the Marathon de Sables 150 miles across the Sahara Desert

Walking across India

Crossing Iceland for emptiness and wilderness

Feeling his of ‘being a beginner’ influences his choices

His Night of Adventure annual speaking night

Regularly heading off to spend a night up a hill

Lisa’s ambitions to climb trees

Feeling a fraud at first with his small adventures

Building a raft on a river in the Lake District

Feeling guilty he wasn’t doing a spread sheet

How we all need to be more childlike

Getting back to things we did as kids

Trying to live adventurously every day rather than separating work and holidays

How a mountain in Scotland is his favourite view

Feeling most foreign in rural China

Finding a mixture of belonging and not belonging in Japan

How Ethiopia was where he felt least welcome

Struggling with tourist hot spots in Egypt

Feeling incredibly remote in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean

The huge space meeting massive claustrophobia, boredom and terror

Scary storms in the night

Being deliberately masochistic

How real life caught up with him

How marriage and kids caused some constraint anxiety

Showing his kids what an adventurous life means to him

The difference of being a Dad going off for a month in Spain and a Mum

Parenting changes every generation

Whether mothers bear a bigger emotional burden

Whether mothers choose to bear an emotional burden

Women adventurers being judged harshly by the media

Him being the default parent

Putting your kids to go to bed and going to climb a tree

How we all put up barriers and make excuses

How first song he learnt on the violin was the soundtrack of his life