One of the things I hear most from people is that money is the thing stopping them going on adventures. Now I’m not going to be one of those people to tell you the ‘outdoors is free’ (because I don’t believe that is true). But I do think that in some circumstances you can remove money from the equation. Here are 6 ways to have a free adventure!
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
- How to fund your adventure
- Outdoor and adventure grants for 2020
- 11 Ways you can make money as an explorer
Before we start….
If you are new to this blog, I’m Bex Band – a full-time UK adventurer and founder of the women’s adventure community, Love Her Wild. I’m on a mission to make getting outdoors and going on adventures as easy as possible. You can read more about me here.
#1 Do a mini backyard adventure
Learning the art of wild camping (or stealth camping) will open up a whole world of free adventuring. Wild camping basically means finding a quiet place where you pitch your tent, hammock or bivvy bag for the night. It’s free of charge and gives you complete flexibility to be alone in nature. Check out my guide for wild camping if you’ve not done it before.
The first night you try it can be a little daunting so I would suggest joining the Yes Tribe Facebook group. They regularly organise free wild camping nights. Or you can join the female adventure community I founded, Love Her Wild, and post in the group to see if anyone else wants to join you.
Obviously you are going to need some basic kit to fo on a mini-adventure. Before buying anything, why not post in a group to see if you can borrow it.
#2 Make the budget part of the challenge
If you want to take on a bigger challenge, starting without any money can be part of your challenge. I think you have to be really brave to take on this kind of free adventure, but I’d love to challenge myself to do it one day!
These adventurers all took on an expedition without any money in their pocket….
….Tom Allen took on the same challenge but with just a bike and no money in his pocket. He even built his bike on a tiny budget beforehand
….Students Tom Langhorne and Cameron Hyde, hitchicked 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 with no money
….Alastair Humphreys spent a month in Spain using only his terrible violin playing skills to earn his keep
#3 Find other people to help fund your challenge
Another way to take on a bigger adventure when broke is to make use of scholarships available or to ask for in-kind sponsorship. In 2016 I completed the London Loop on a scooter. I managed to get the equipment sponsored and also won some funding from the Next Challenge Grant which covered the costs entirely making it a free adventure.
You can see a full list of Outdoor and adventure grants for 2020 here which lists other great opportunities.
#4 Get your adventure fix through volunteering
There are lots of ways you can volunteer your time to help others while also being more adventurous. If you enjoy working with children, you could help out with the Scouts, Youth Adventure Trust or a similar organisation that run regular adventure camps and activities.
James Borrell has put together a great list of volunteering conservation groups that look for volunteers happy to work in the outdoors. I would also add Raleigh International and ICS who are always in need of adventure leaders who can commit to a couple of months away.
#5 Turn adventuring into a job
Working towards a suitable qualification could see you not just getting a free adventure but actually being paid for it. Passing the assessment for the Mountain Leader Award opened up a world of opportunity for me. I now regularly work as an Expedition Leader taking young groups on adventures overseas. There are a number of companies that offer this kind of work including World Challenge, British Explorers and Outlook Expeditions.
Explorers Connect have a great forum where jobs are posted for adventure leaders.
Of course, all these qualifications cost money to obtain but they usually pay for themselves pretty quickly. If you can’t afford them you should also look into funding options as there are a number of scholarships and bursaries available for training, especially for regular adventure volunteers. Plas Y Brenin list funds for training.
There are other ways you can make money from adventuring. I’ve built an adventure career through blogging and speaking. Find ou thet different ways you can earn a living as an adventurer.
Or just join the reserves…travel and adventure training come as part of the job!
#6 Be part of the support or step-in crew
Teammates often drop out which is why for the bigger expeditions, there will often be step-in crew ready to go. It is also not uncommon to have a support crew nearby – helping with social media, taking photos/film or being on hand to deal with logistics. You’ll get to travel and be part of the adventure – just in a different way.
A good place to search for these opportunities is on The Royal Geographical Society (you can also be added to an ‘interested in expeditions’ list) and Explorers Connect who have a ‘Find a Teammate’ page where roles are often advertised.
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