Step out of your comfort zone. That was the overarching theme of an inspiring evening of quick-fire travel talks I attended at University College London this week with fellow AB editor Freddie Reynolds.
Prior to joining AB, Freddie and I worked together in travel publishing and Night of Adventure was a delightful trip down memory lane to be surrounded once more by people with an unbridled passion for adventurous travel and the drive and enthusiasm to live out their dreams.
A fast and frantic format, which I can see working well at internal communications events, saw speakers given just six minutes to share their tale of adventure. They were allowed no more than 20 slides, which automatically moved on after 20 seconds.
With no time for speakers to overindulge or dally, the audience was swept along on a global journey of discovery, from the comfort of their seat.
Organiser and adventurer Alastair Humphreys described his journey through Spain in the musical footsteps of Laurie Lee’s As I Walked out one Midsummer Morning (a former AB book club read). Just as Lee did, he played his violin in town squares and streets to earn enough money to continue his adventure.
Alastair played a few notes on stage to demonstrate the limits of his violin playing abilities – his point being that confronting your fears and being prepared to try new things can be just as adventurous as scaling Everest or crossing the Sahara.
We heard from deep ocean, mountain and jungle explorers, but also from others who’d just decided to give it a go. People like Elise Downing who challenged herself to run around the UK coastline and Sarah Little and Lilly Quinn who spent nothing during their travels around the 48 mainland states of the USA.
Another speaker, Lars Simonsen from Denmark, kayaked from Copenhagen to Istanbul with his wife and two young children on an incredible 18-month family adventure.
Shilpika Gautam challenged convention by paddle-boarding the length of the River Ganges, while designer Anne-Laure Carruth travelled around the Mediterranean in a 1971 Land Rover, sketching daily to document her experiences along the way.
Having celebrated International Women’s Day this week it was encouraging to see so many female speakers in what has long been a male-dominated world of exploration. And there was an equal gender split in the audience.
The biggest challenge for travellers, and for businesses and communicators, is often taking that first step. So be brave, try new things and challenge convention.
Do that and the world is your oyster.