This Scottish Adventurer Shares the Importance of Documenting Memories and Experiences

Adventurer Heather Duncan

My name is Heather Duncan. A wife, mother, adventurer and outdoors addict. My passions include scaling to the highest heights, cruising the ocean on my kayak and throwing myself from cliffs. Why? Because life is too short to be boring.

Up until five years ago, I lived a happy, content, and boring life in my home country of Scotland when my life was picked up and transported to Muscat, the capital city of Oman, with my husband’s work. With the new title of ‘Expat Wife’ and ‘Visa Bride’, I had never been away from home before and felt isolated – It was sink or swim. Never one to stay down for long I fought against it to break free from the pigeon hole I was being forced into. This shaped my young personality to become a stronger, more independent person which I am grateful for.

Adventurer Heather Duncan

How and why did you get into adventuring/traveling?

My passion for the outdoors didn’t begin until around three and a half years ago when my son was born. I had a sudden newfound appreciation for my body and what it was capable of – I produced a human being after all. But my mind was in turmoil, I loved this new little person but I felt frustrated at simply being labelled a ‘Mum’. My mind started seeking something different to the routine I was in, I needed to push myself and get out and explore.

I quickly discovered that if I had my small portion of time in my own little world I became a happier, more positive person to be in everyone else’s world – adventures became my therapy, my passion!

Now at three and a half, my boy is joining in on adventures it makes me incredibly happy to see his adventurous spirit in life and passion for the outdoors.

Adventurer Heather Duncan

How do you eat and sleep on the road?

It’s no secret that I am more of a day time explorer – I’ll sleep in a tent occasionally but if there is a hotel or B&B close by, I’ll be seen sneaking off that way in search of a comfy bed & warm shower.

For food on the road, I’ll eat almost anything, I’m not fussy but you can always guarantee that I’ll have a good supply of snack with me from dried fruits to protein bars or walnuts I’m always well fueled.

How do you finance your adventures?

In general, my adventures don’t cost a lot – I like to keep it simple. They just require some basic gear and some food. For bigger adventures, such as my trip to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, I funded it myself. I have the privilege to earn some money from freelance writing so my small wage goes into the adventure fund.

Adventurer Heather Duncan

How do you bring your things with you?

Ahhh packing, always an issue for me. I always pack too much for a ‘just in case’ situation. Saying that, my over packing has helped out on many occasions with people forgetting things like sun cream and lip salve, they know I will always have a supply but then I’m always the person carrying the heaviest load.

My trusty day pack from The North Face has been with me for around three years now, initially it cost more than the other backpacks on offer but the quality is undeniable. This bag has been through all the elements and on some wild adventures but still it looks and feels in great condition.

For the larger items and longer trips, I use a duffel bag by Helly Hansen, again it cost more than some others on the market but the quality outweighs anything else.

Adventurer Heather Duncan

How do you organize things in your bags?

In my bags, I am quite organized in my over packing, I know exactly what I have in my bag and roughly, which pocket they should be in. It makes it easier to find things on the road.

If my travel packs aren’t water resistant, I always carry a dry bag for valuables or at least some zip-lock bags to store things like phones and car keys in case we are caught out.

How do your bags and gear hold up?

As I mentioned earlier, my bags are holding up well despite being put through the elements from the soaring 40 degree heat of the UAE desert to the bone chilling minus 45 degrees wind chill on the roof of Africa, mount Kilimanjaro. Sometimes spending that little bit of extra money really is worth it in the long term to guarantee the quality.

I would apply that rule to adventure clothes also to ensure that your jackets keep you warm and the moisture out and that your running gear doesn’t leave you with any nasty chaffing situations.

Any gear you wish you had brought with you from the beginning?

With every adventure, I learn a little more about what I should have brought and what I should have left at home; it’s a learning experience. We are always learning, especially from meeting other adventure and outdoor enthusiasts who are generally all too excited to show off their new gear you pick up knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.

Adventurer Heather Duncan

What has been your best adventuring purchase below $100?

One of the best things I bought was a Nalgene water bottle from Amazon for around $10 – this water bottle has been dropped, thrown, refilled, chugged, had boiling water poured into it, lasted in the freezer for hours and used as a hot water bottle on a remote camp on an African mountain. All of this and not a single crack of sign of it’s tough life.

Something I have quickly learned that is important when trekking or running distance isn’t just your boots, you also need good quality socks! Recently I bought some Jack Wolfskin base layer socks – I hadn’t even known that so many sock options were available before this but these socks have revolutionized my hiking adventures. Little things like socks can make the difference between an awesome adventure or a trip filled with blister problems.

Adventurer Heather Duncan

What is your best tip for parents who want to have an adventure with their young kids?

Travelling with kids can be tricky; some kids take it in their stride and some just don’t handle it at all. As a parent, you know your kid best. It is an incredible gift to show your children the world but does a tiny child really need to reach Machu Picchu? Some times you need to weigh up your battles. For me, I love to take pictures and videos to document a journey so I can show my son later in life all the incredible things that he has had the chance to do and see.

Travelling with my son it isn’t usually a stress free experience; he is a high energy kid that loves to move. This is a great quality on adventures but during a long flight it can be a nightmare situation. We usually board the plane at the very last minute cutting down the amount of time on board. Snacks seem to be the key with this kid – my bag is full of all sorts of random goodies. A favourite is Cheerios, which we can stack, count, thread on a string and then eat. We read books, play with toy cars – anything to distract him from knowing that he is contained in the same place for hours. I’m hoping over time the travel gets easier as his attention span grows!

What is your best advice for other adventurers?

Personally, I advise documenting your adventures – whether it be in a blog, a journal, a video or even go old school with a scrap book – Take the time to put these memories of your experiences somewhere so you can look at them in the future. I use a blog site and videos on You Tube to show the world my adventures – I love to show people the world through my eyes, especially the people who may not ever be able to see or do the things I can in life. The positive feedback spurs me on further to do more & see more to keep producing the photos and videos to show people the world.

“Be fearless in pursuit of what sets your soul on fire”, this is the motto I live my life by. Does something make you excited, make you want to jump out of bed in the morning? Then you should do more of that.

Adventurer Heather Duncan

What will the future bring?

For me I hope that the future will bring many more crazy adventures, experiences and good health. Recently, I just made myself a new Bucket List for the year ahead and for the long term plan. Some of them are a little ambitious, others a little too expensive but I believe that it is good to have a plan and a dream.

My ultimate dream at the moment is to reach the base camp of Mount Everest – after Kilimanjaro it is apparent that my body doesn’t like altitude but that doesn’t stop my brain from dreaming of the mountains!

Follow Heather Dunccan on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat: heatherduncan87

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