Why don’t you go on an adventure? The excuse I hear most is time and money. Time aside, I think that money needs to just be approached creatively if you are lacking. There are likely more ways to fund your adventure than you have thought of. Here are a few adventure funding ideas to get you started….Note that this post is part of a series on adventures, expeditions and money. Also check out:
- Top tips for securing financial sponsorship for your expedition
- How to write a sponsorship proposal
- Outdoor and adventure grants for 2020
- 11 Ways you can make money as an explorer
Begin by lowering your costs
Before you start looking for money, the easiest thing you can do is reduce the cost of the adventure in the first place. As someone who now travels full time, I can tell you that the great thing about adventures is you can do them very cheaply. When I hiked 1000km for 2 months across Israel, it cost me just $600!You can see find a breakdown here on how much my expeditions cost.
Take some time to look at each of the expenses on your budget. Get creative and think about how you might be able to reduce them.
Transport – Could you ask a lift from a friend instead? Or post on a car-sharing site? Could you hitchhike? If you are going abroad, is there a cheaper flight option available if you stopover along the way?
Accommodation – Could you wild camp? Are there free bothies you can stay in? If you don’t want to camp, could couch surfing be an option? How about posting on Facebook groups to ask if people will host you (this worked well for me on my Kicking the States expedition)?
Food – Instead of eating out, could you buy your own breakfast and lunch to eat on the go? Could you take a stove to cook your own dinners?
Equipment – Do you really need everything on your list? Is there an alternative you can use that you already have? How about borrowing these items from a friend or maybe from a local group (i.e, you could ask your local rock climbing club to borrow a harness if you need one)?
Sponsorship in kind
Now you should have a list of the absolute essential costs that you need to make your adventure happen. If I can’t afford to do the adventure myself financially, one place I look is to companies for help. Getting people to give you money is a difficult task, but in-kind sponsorship (where a company will provide a service or equipment free of charge) is a lot easier to secure.
In-kind sponsorship works best if there is an exchange. For example, if you are planning to keep a blog, you might be able to provide exposure for a company. If you can take good pictures, you could give images using equipment ‘in action’. Or, if you are raising money for charity, you can just ask them to do a good deed.
Asking for sponsorship in kind is not just limited to equipment: If you need transport, you could contact a taxi company; If you need food, you could ask a supermarket or pub if they will feed you. Or, if you need accommodation; perhaps a hostel will put you up for free for the night.
Still need money?
If you’ve reduced the cost of your adventure to a bare minimum and tried your best to get services and products sponsored, then you should be left with a final amount that you need to make your adventure happen. At this stage, it comes down to money.
You have 4 options left….
Funding option #1: Bursaries and scholarships
There are numerous bursaries and scholarships available to help fund peoples adventures. Most of these are open to anybody, although they do usually have certain requirements. The award might be aimed towards people from a certain place or they are looking for a certain type of challenge. You don’t have to be a seasoned adventurer to win a bursary and, in fact, being a newbie will often work in your favour.
When applying for a bursary, follow these steps:
Do your research: Search online (use the resources below) and collect a list of all the bursaries and scholarships that you can find available for adventures.
Read the criteria carefully: Take some time carefully reading the criteria of each scholarship and bursary. Make a note of all the ones that you meet. If you are happy to do so, you might want to consider adapting your adventure slightly to meet the criteria if this is easily done.
Check the application deadline: Most bursaries have a deadline, some which may not meet your timeframe. The first thing I do is to make a list of all the suitable bursaries I am applying for in order of the deadlines so I know when I need to apply for them and in which order.
Be honest and original in your application: Fill out the application carefully. Be honest about your plans but also be original with your writing, you are competing with hundreds maybe thousands of others so you want your adventure to stand out. Ask only as much as you need. Only submit the form once you have re-read the application to check it is in order.
Don’t hesitate to reapply: Bursaries and scholarships will usually be in touch to tell you if you are or aren’t successful. If you don’t hear back, you can assume that you weren’t. In most cases, it is fine to reapply so, if it is still relevant, don’t hesitate to try again next year. You might need to try a different angle on your application though to get it noticed.
Here are some bursary and scholarship resources to get you started….
• As a proud winner of Tim Moss’s, The Next Challenge Grant (for my Scoot the Loop adventure), I can fully recommend checking it out! This award is designed for simple and innovate adventures that anyone can do. There are also some great resources on Tim’s website.
• BMC have a list of mountaineering grants.
• The Royal Geographical society have a PDF list of adventure funding sources as well as a database of grant giving organisations• Here you’ll find a list of Outdoor and adventure grants for 2020
This is not an exhaustive list so doing your own research online might find new bursaries which are not noted here. If you have been connected to a university or large organisation, this is also a great place to start. Drop them an email to ask if they have any adventure funding opportunities available for alumni. These sorts of grants will be considerably less competitive giving you the best possible chance of winning one.
Funding option #2: Financial sponsorshipIf you are doing a big or unusual adventure or you have a significant following, then you could look at getting financial sponsorship. I’ve written a full series on getting financial sponsorship based on my experience. I’d suggest by starting with: How to get sponsorship for your adventure to give you a good overview of the process.
Funding option #3: Pay for it yourself
There is a downside to relying on grants and scholarships for funding your adventure. They are time-consuming, have deadlines and are competitive. There are also usually a lot of expectations involved. It can turn your adventure into a job. That might not suit everyone which leads me on to the third funding option…..pay for it yourself.
Put away a bit each month or sell some stuff that you no longer want. Monthly savings could earn you the funds you need for your adventure in a matter of months. I saved $8,000 in a year for my travels and adventure. It’s possible with a bit of determination and changing of spending habits.
You could get a second part-time job. Think about the most effective way to use your time. Rather than filling out applications and sending proposals, you might actually earn more per-hour if you just worked. Don’t forget to also account the time you will then have to spend writing articles and editing photos. It is also a guaranteed way to fund your challenge where sponsorship is unreliable.
Funding option #4: There’s still a way
If you have tried all the above avenues and you still can’t make it happen, there is one other choice. Head out on your adventure with nothing in your pocket. Make being broke part of the adventure itself!
Still not convinced?
….George Mahood walked the full length of Britain, starting with just a pair of boxers and nothing else. I can recommend reading his very amusing book.
….Tom Allen took on the same challenge but with a bike and no money in his pocket. He even built his bike on a tiny budget beforehand
….Students Tom Langhorne and Cameron Hyde once hitchhiked a 650 mile journey without spending a penny
…Tim Moss climbed the equivalent of Everest using nothing but his work stairs and his free time
…Laura Bingham crossed South America without a budget
….Alastair Humphreys spent a month in Spain using only his terrible violin playing skills to cover food and accommodation costs
…Lily and Sarah visited all the states in America without spending a penny. They relied on hitchhiking and peoples generosity
Need more advice on funding your adventure?Check out these articles writen by other adventurers who have shared their thoughts on money….
- How to finance an expedition (Red Bull)
- 6 ways to have a free adventure
- How to have an adventure for £100 (Tim Moss)
- How I get paid to travel the world (Vagabond)
- How to pay for your adventure (Dave Cornthwaite)