British Adventurers Explain How to Expand Your Comfort Zone by Doing Something New

What is real adventure for you? Is it crossing the Sahara Desert by a camel or running ultra marathons?

Maybe it doesn’t have to be that way.

For British adventurers and travel bloggers, Hannah and Thom, real adventure is anything that takes you out of your comfort zone.

So read on and learn how Hannah and Thom keep expanding their comfort zone (which is something we should all do!)

That Adventurer Blog

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

We’re Hannah and Thom, a travel loving couple from England (although we’re currently living in Vancouver, BC and loving it so far!) We met each other on a university ski trip and one of our first dates involved hitchhiking as far away from our university campus as possible within 36 hours! We made it to Paris, which was a pretty good way to end a date.

We both love the outdoors and travel whether that’s hiking, camping, or taking to the water in a kayak. Although, I (Hannah) am much more of a fan of swimming than Thom!

How and why did you get into adventuring?

I’m pretty proactive and if I want to do something I make it happen and figure out how it works along the way.

We’d both travelled quite a bit when we were growing up and we both went away with a company called, World Challenge while we were at school where you spend a week or two hiking abroad. I think those trips showed us how great travel could be. When it comes to our love of the outdoors, both of us grew up in the countryside and with dogs so going for a walk outdoors is just something we’ve always done!

I knew I wanted to travel in South America when I graduated university. I didn’t want to do it completely alone, but hadn’t met anyone I thought I could travel with for three months without wanting to kill them! When I met Thom I thought maybe he was the person that could come with me – luckily he thought the same and so that was our first big adventure together!

That Adventurer Blog

Why is adventuring important for you?

Getting outside and being active is so important. I go a little bit crazy if I’m stuck inside all day. Thom likes to say I’m like a puppy: He has to make sure he’s taken me for a walk outside otherwise I’ll end up pacing around the room! haha!

You don’t have to go far to have an adventure and I think that’s really important to remember. It’s easy to think that if you’re not crossing the Sahara with just a camel or running ultra marathons that you’re not really having an adventure. But doing something slightly out of your comfort zone, doing something new? Well, that’s an adventure!

Adventures boost your self confidence, they test your motivation and being outdoors makes you feel so much happier!

That Adventurer Blog

What has been the best parts of your adventures?

Our most recent adventure has been leaving our jobs and families behind in the UK and moving to Vancouver in Canada.

We began at the end of January by flying to Toronto (in the middle of winter – not the best idea!), where we spent a couple of weeks visiting Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa. Then, we bought a cargo van, which we’ve named Elvis and turned him into a camper van in a Home Depot carpark at -16 degrees Celcius. It was probably one of the craziest things we’ve done.

As soon as he was liveable (had a bed and a camping stove), we drove all the way down the east coast of the US to the Florida Keys, along the south through Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico, up to Utah and Arizona and then over to California before heading up the west coast to Vancouver.

We were so surprised at how varied the landscape and scenery of America was. Everywhere is absolutely beautiful and it completely surpassed our (pretty high) expectations!

That Adventurer Blog

What has been the most difficult parts?

The most difficult parts are the unexpected things that happen on all adventures. Having said that, they also make the best stories!

One example of this was when we lost our passports while in the US (which also had our Canadian visas attached!).

We hadn’t even realised we’d lost our passports until a day earlier when we checked into a hotel in order to pick up some post. We couldn’t find them anywhere. We called the gym in Florida, the last place we remembered having them and they said they didn’t have them either.

The next day, we decided to carry on towards Los Angeles where we could then get an emergency passport sorted. No-one had needed to see our passports up until now, anyway.

So we carried on towards New Mexico but, as we reached Del Rio, we drove past US Border Control on the other side of the road. A quick Google showed there was no way we’d get out of Del Rio without going through a check point.

A frantic few hours passed where we found a copy shop, printed off copies of our passports saved in our emails and called the gym again who this time DID have our passports!

But we still had to make it out of Del Rio. We started driving back on ourselves towards Austin where we’d arranged for the gym to send our passports. An hour passed and we sill hadn’t seen a checkpoint, we thought we were safe, but then we saw one on the horizon. Crap. “Where are your passports? When did you enter the country? How many people are in your van? Why do you have copies of you lost your passport? What are these police certificates for? So Canada did checks on you?” “Yes, Canada checked us before they gave us a visa” “Okay, you can go”

And then, four days later, we were finally reunited with our passports after having to go into every shop and a school in a mall when we were told they’d been delivered to a “tallish, Caucasian guy in a blue polo shirt”.

I’m much more of a worrier than Thom (or at least he hides it pretty well!). So he keeps me calm in situations like these when I’m automatically thinking the worst.

That Adventurer Blog
Elvis the van in Mt Rainier

How do you eat and sleep on the road?

We’ve been travelling in our self-converted Ford Econoline Van. It has a full size queen bed in the back, which folds away into a sofa during the day. It also has the tiniest kitchen you’ve probably ever seen — just a sink and a gas camping stove from Canadian Tire! The biggest challenge is that you can’t stand up in the van but you get used to it!

We tend to cook most meals ourselves as it helps us keep costs down. When we do go out, we look for cheaper places, definitely nothing too fancy. Markets are great, as are food trucks, which you’ll find in a lot of cities all over North America.

We’ve only paid for accommodation twice in the last 4 months. Once in Austin, TX when we needed some post delivered (it never turned up!) and then Thom treated me to a hotel for a night in Las Vegas. It’s much easier than you’d think to find somewhere to sleep overnight for free when you’re in a van. We’ve used Walmart carparks, National Forests and BLM land in America. The best app for finding somewhere is iOverlander. It’s free and we used it basically every night while travelling.

Every now and again we do house sits, through Trusted Housesitters, which are great. We, basically, spend a week or two looking after some dogs, in a nice house for free while the dogs’ owners are on holiday. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re on holiday as you have to be around to walk and take care of the dogs, but if you’re doing some long-term travel, definitely look into it.

Budget Adventures E-Book
Budget Adventures E-Book

What inspired you to write your e-book?

I’m always asked how I afford to travel so much. Out of my friends from back home I’m the one who earns the least, yet I travel the most. People have this idea that travel is always super expensive. And yes, it can be. But it doesn’t have to be.

My e-book, Budget Adventures, is 40+ pages of everything I know about travelling on a budget. It aims to help you save money before you travel and learn how to save money while you’re travelling so that you can travel for longer.

When we both got our Canadian visa acceptance through in 2016, I was worried I wouldn’t have enough money to go (you only get a year to use the visa, after that you can’t reapply).

But that wasn’t true…

I pulled myself together and realised that yes I would have enough money! There were ways I could cut back on spending and put that money towards travel instead.

I managed to save around £5,000 in 10 months without sacrificing my love of travel. I still went on 13 trips and travelled to two new countries. Some thanks to my work as a blogger, but most were funded completely by myself.

The best part was that the £5,000 I’d saved was enough money for me to travel around Canada and America for the last five months.

I travel because I like seeing and experiencing new things. I don’t care about luxury hotels, cocktails in rooftop bars or fancy food. When you don’t care about those things, it’s surprising how much cheaper travel becomes.

That Adventurer Blog

What are your best advice for new adventurers?

I think you need to start small. Don’t go planning for some huge trip that’s way out of your budget and way out of your current physical ability. Start by going away for a weekend, entering a local race, or something on a similar scale.

Once you’ve got that under your belt then you’ll feel more confident about bigger adventures and you’ll be more willing to make them happen knowing that they’re possible.

That Adventurer Blog
Bear in Mt Rainier, National Park, Washington USA

How do you prepare for your adventures?

We both walk a lot, which helps keep a basic level of fitness. Thom is one of those people who doesn’t do much exercise but could run a half marathon like it was nothing.

I’m not one of those people.

I used to swim a lot when I was younger, and rowed at university so I’ve always done something. While we were still in the UK I was doing Kayla Itsines BBG to keep up my fitness. It’s great because it’s only 30 minutes, 3 times a week and you can do it at home. I think our neighbours below didn’t appreciate me jumping around at 6.30am though!

We’ve both signed up to an adventure race in September here in BC. It’s 50km of kayaking, running and mountain biking. In preparation for that, I’ve started running and Thom joins me when I can drag him out of bed! I find running really hard but I’m kind of getting into it now.

In terms of planning our adventures, we use a mix of guide books and google. Google’s pretty great for finding budget friendly things to do. I find guide books always seem to recommend pretty expensive activities!

That Adventurer Blog
Montreal in February

How do you finance your adventures?

Whilst back in the UK we both had full time jobs. Thom’s a data scientist and I worked in marketing for a charity. We saved up enough money to move to Canada and travel and we’ve been living off that for the past 5 months. Now that we’ve reached Vancouver we’re applying for jobs to save some more to pay for the next adventures.

How do you balance normal life with adventuring?

Because we’ve both always had “normal” jobs, we just fit our adventures in with our holiday allowances at work. We used to get 25 days off a year in the UK so we’d just plan our trips to fit in with that.

We also do weekend trips where we’ll take a half day off on a Friday, fly somewhere, explore and then come back Sunday night ready for work on Monday!

That Adventurer Blog

What has been your best adventuring purchase below $100?

This might sound weird, and it only works if you’re from the UK too. But the best purchase we made, at least for this trip, was a SIM Card from a phone company back home called Three.

The SIM card itself was actually free but it saved us SO much money on data while we were travelling in the US. Phone plans in the USA & Canada cost too much compared to the UK! We topped up our phones each month with £20 (about $26) and for that we had unlimited data and could text and call people in the UK without any extra charges.

You can do this in lots of countries around the world if you have a Three SIM card but unfortunately Canada isn’t one of them so we’re paying crazy prices on our phones now!

That Adventurer Blog

What other favorite gear do you have?

Apart from our van as a whole, some of the best things we’ve bought are the America Parks Pass and a Goal Zero, which works with our solar panel on the van’s roof.

The America Parks Pass is just $80 for a year and that covers entrance to every National Park, Monument and more for both of us. Given that the National Parks are about $30 each we saved a crazy amount of money by buying this.

The Goal Zero was also a great buy. It’s definitely not cheap but it converts the energy on our solar panel into energy we can use to charge our phones, laptop, power the fan in our van. It’s great and I don’t know what we’d have done without it!

What will the future bring?

We’ve been in Vancouver for about a month now and we’re both loving it. It helps that it has been non-stop sunshine since we arrived (which we hear is pretty rare!). Our visa is until January 2019 and I imagine we’ll just be exploring and adventuring in BC and the Rockies until then!

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