Tim Moss is currently biking around the world with his wife, Laura, and has some insightful advice for those looking to shake up their travels, or just simply travel. Tim's blog, The Next Challenge, is designed to help those willing to take on their next adventure, whatever that may be. He has spent time in every continent and believes anyone can find adventure anywhere. He took some time off of his bike to speak with us about budget traveling, adventure and his site.
How do you define adventure?
Any attempt at a categoric definition of adventure quickly becomes absurd: Do you have to sleep outside? travel aboard? break a sweat? put yourself in danger? It's easy to come up with examples of adventure that break each of those ideas.
As such, adventure must be relative. In other words, it's different for everyone. If something feels adventurous to you, then that is all that matters.
First time camping? That's an adventure. Never run a 10k before? That's adventure. Not been swimming in a lake? Adventure.
You've definitely traveled and explored in some non-traditional ways - is this for everyone?
My idea of fun - which includes hardcore explorer Mark Twight's idea that "it doesn't have to be fun to be fun" - may not suit everydiv. I quite like cycling to work in the rain sometimes and jumping in cold water, for example.
But having an adventure is a universal experience, particularly if we go with the idea that adventure is a relative term. Exploring the world is something everyone should do in their own way and trying something new I would recommend to anyone.
Is a tight budget a reason not to travel?
I found myself thinking that once - "I don't have any money, so I can't go on an expedition" - and it actually inspired me to try. I was out of work and low on money but got a generous gift of £100 for Christmas and used it to set myself a challenge: to have an adventure for £100.
I hitchhiked all around the UK, slept under the stars, swam in the ocean, treated myself to a pint of Guinness on my first trip to Dublin and made it back home a week later with £35 change.
Again, hitchhiking and Guinness may not be everyone's cup of tea, but there are myriad ways to have an adventure on a budget. In fact, my latest trip - cycling from England to Australia - has cost me less for an entire year of traveling (£5,000 all in) than the rent on my London flat would have done for the same period.
What are your three top tips for traveling within a tight budget?
1. Wherever possible, take your own accommodation and kitchen. Hotels and restaurants will devour your budget, but a cheap tent or bivy and a gas stove means you can eat and sleep anywhere.
2. Don't spend money on kit. Try getting it sponsored, look for bargains on eBay or use cheaper alternatives, but never waste money on equipment that would get you another day out there doing something.
3. Think about your priorities. If number one for you is to squeeze out as many days as possible, then recognize that and start settling for cheaper hostels and worse food. If you're not going to enjoy your trip if you have to watch every penny, then that's fine, too; just enjoy a shorter trip.
Please tell us a bit about your current cycling adventure around the world. What is your most uplifting experience? Your most harrowing one?
My wife, Laura, and I are three-quarters of the way through a round-the-world cycle. We've spent a year cycling 10,000 miles across Europe, Turkey and Iran in winter, India, Korea, Japan and a Southeast Asian summer before arriving in Melbourne last month.
The uplifting moments have come thick and fast on our travels. Every single time that we have knocked on a door, been stopped at the side of the road or got speaking to a stranger and been invited into their home to eat dinner with their family, tell stories and sleep in their spare room, has been a real joy.
In contrast to all those happy times, we've only had about 20 seconds of harrowing. It was my own fault. I was trying to set a new top speed whilst coming down a hill in Macedonia when I saw Laura waving her arm ahead of me - a sign to slow down - and quickly spotted the reason why: a huge pot hole. I might have made it if it weren't for the gravel on the other side but instead skidded over at 30mph. Thanks to my helmet, I escaped with little more than a headache and the shakes. Now I have a strict speed limit.
Your site is full of great resources and your own advice and help, including information on finding sponsors and applying for grants. What's the big difference between a sponsorship and a grant?
Sponsorship, in this context, is getting a private company to give you money in exchange for publicity, photographs, endorsements and the like. How to get sponsored is the most common question I get asked about, but it's a really hard thing to secure and rarely necessary. I have never used corporate sponsorship for any of my trips, and it's sad to see so many people getting disheartened by a lack of sponsorship success when it's really not a necessary step to get an expedition underway.
Grants (sometimes also called "awards") are quite different, however. In this instance, an organization has a pot of money that it's just itching to give to the right person. They will have criteria, such as that your trip must involve a scientific element, be original, involve mountains/desert/ocean or similar, and restrictions (e.g., under 30 or from Scotland/London). The challenge is first to find them (I have a big list here), work out which ones you're eligible for and then convince them you're the best candidate. In my younger years, I was awarded many grants for my expeditions.
What are your favorite places for visiting on a small budget?
Easy: the hills. It doesn't cost a thing to walk up a hill and sleep on top, but it's hard to beat.
How does travel and adventure enrich the traveler beyond the trip?
There are many ways that travel and adventure can enrich a person, but personally, I have really benefited from being put into new situations - be that hanging off the edge of a mountain or entertaining a local family's kids for the evening with no common language, trying to negotiate a bus fare across a strange land or pushing on that final mile when you're cold, wet and hungry because there's no other choice. All of these are situations that you wouldn't find yourself in at home, and they give you a chance to test yourself and see what you can really do.
What's next for you?
Well, I live in the UK but am currently in Australia with my bike, so Laura and I have still have some pedaling to do. First, New Zealand's North Island, then across the Southern United States and home in time for Christmas. Wish us luck!