Alastair Humphreys - A Normal Person

I am a pretty normal person, really. I’m not a really strong person, I’m not very brave, and I realized that a lot of people thought of me as this adventurer.

Major adventures

I cycled around the world; it took me four years to do—46,000 miles through 60 countries. I’ve walked across India from coast to coast. I’ve rowed the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve been up in the Arctic in Greenland up near the magnetic North Pole on the Arctic Ocean. I’ve canoed across Iceland. Most recently, I just walked 1,000 miles across the Empty Quarter desert in the Arabian Peninsula. I do that sort of stuff.

More recently I’ve been doing little adventures around the UK. I call them microadventures. That’s the direction my adventures have been going the last couple of years—trying to encourage normal people to do something slightly different.

Adventure has been so important to me in my life, so I wanted to try and find a way to show that normal people—like, everyone—can also have adventures. The best way to have an adventure is by starting small. Start with something that’s within your skill level, your time level, your fitness level, your equipment level. If you want to be a good photographer, don’t worry about having a Canon Pro DSLR, go out and buy a $50 camera on ebay and just start taking photos. It’s that sort of principle.

5-to-9 thinking

The 9-to-5 defines people a lot. But it also limits people. People with real jobs can’t have adventure, because of their 9-to-5, 9-to-5, 9-to-5. That is a constraint; it’s a limitation in your life. But, if you flip it around in your head, instead of seeing a constraint, you try to see an opportunity. When you leave work at 5pm, you’ve then got freedom until 9 o’clock the next morning. So, instead of going home and watching rubbish TV, get out of town, go sleep a hill, cook on top of a fire, have a swim in the river in the morning, and get back to work by 9am. You can have adventures even in a small space of time such as that.

Advice on adventure and photography

  • The times when you don’t really want to get your camera out—when the sand is blowing and the rain is falling—that’s the time when you’ve got to get your camera out, and take the pain.
  • Most of the trips that I’ve done tend to involve having to get my camera serviced afterwards. Taking it down rivers, rowing the Atlantic Ocean—saltwater—these are terrible things for a camera.
  • Any idiot can be an adventurer, but being a photographer is more difficult. So, I think it makes sense to find a photographer and take him on an adventure rather than finding an adventurer and trying to teach him photography.ost of the trips that I’ve done tend to involve having to get my camera serviced afterwards. Taking it down rivers, rowing the Atlantic Ocean—saltwater—these are terrible things for a camera.

365

  • I think the best thing that I’ve done for my photography is when I decided to take a photograph every single day for a whole year. I put it up on Flickr, and that forced me to have a camera with me every day of the year. That taught me more than anything.
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What do you think? Please leave us a comment below. Experience more of Alastair's perspective on his website www.AlastairHumphreys.com, buy his book #Microadventures, then go sleep a hill!

Watch the complete interview with Alastair in the video at the top.