How this PhD Student Combines Full Time Study with Outdoor Adventures

Adventurer Zoe Hudson
Udaipur, Rajasthan, India

My name is Zoe, I’m currently a full time PhD student studying breast cancer. I love my research but I also love adventure and do my best to balance the two. I live in Bristol in the UK and my main hobbies are hill walking, scrambling and climbing with a bit of yoga and running thrown in. I aspire to take on bigger peaks or longer walks but at the moment I think I’ve got enough to keep me busy!

I write a blog called, Zo Outdoors, which is an online diary style blog of my outdoors adventures big and small. I also do all my own photography.

Adventurer Zoe Hudson
A winter’s day on Schiehallion, Scotland,UK

How and why did you get into adventuring and traveling?

We always camped on family holidays but I’m not sure that was where the love started as I have a lot of memories of rain and arguments. It certainly did sow a seed though, and meant I had a few skills when I rediscovered my love for the great outdoors.

I really started travelling while at university, making the most of the summers to explore some classic backpacking destinations. I then spent some time living in New Zealand and it was there that I really began to appreciate the outdoors as a lifestyle rather than a hobby. It provided the perfect antidote to the stresses of work and made me want to explore more and get off the beaten track.

To me travel and spending time outdoors are essential, if I go too long without either I can’t help but plan my next trip. If I feel like I don’t have much time I will often only plan a day out or a night away – it’s amazing how refreshing that can be, even very close to home.

Inspiration comes from all over; talking to people, reading blogs and magazines, sometimes even just spending a bit of time with a world map! Sometimes the trip just has to fit the time available and any new destination will do.

Adventurer Zoe Hudson
Relaxing in the vineyards of the Rioja region, Spain

How do you finance your adventures?

I have a full-time job which finances my trips. It does mean I have a little less time available than I might like but it also means I have the money to adventure and it forces me to be creative with the trips I take.

How do you eat and sleep on the road?

It all depends on the type of trip; I’m happy camping with a dinner of instant noodles right up to splashing out on a unique hotel experience. My trusty tent (Alpkit Jaran 2) is my go to for summer accommodation and all my camp dinners are cooked on the ever reliable MSR Pocket Rocket.

When local cuisine is available, I always make a point of trying the local specialty. I’m also currently converting a van into a camper so that will provide a lot more options for exploring!

Adventurer Zoe Hudson
Hiking in Mid Wales, UK

How do you bring your things with you?

For camping, I’m a big fan of my Osprey Talon 44 rucksack, which is the perfect size for a weekend’s camping. I also managed to use it for two weeks backpacking in India, with room for souvenir purchases along the way. For bigger trips, I like my Eastpak 2 wheel roller (newer version is called, the Transverz). 

How do you organize things in your bags?

For trips where I’ll be in hotels, I tend to use travel cubes, I have about 10 that I got in New Zealand from the brand Kathmandu. They are brilliant for organizing your wardrobe and also make great wash bags. When backpacking or camping, I prefer drybags such as those from Exped Adventure or Osprey. I don’t tend to go full waterproof as I’m usually on dry land!

Adventurer Zoe Hudson
Scrambling on Tryfan, Snowdonia, UK

How do your bags and gear hold up?

I’m pretty happy with my current set up, I’ve had some of it 5-10 years and haven’t had to retire anything yet. If I was to embark on a longer backpacking trip where I had to carry more I’d be in the market for a new 65L backpack. 

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

I’m pretty ruthless when it comes to packing. I try to get most outfits to work for a few different occasions and minimize my toiletries by decanting into smaller bottles. I never skimp on layers though as I get cold really easily.

Adventurer Zoe Hudson
Sark Folk Festival, Sark, Channel Islands, UK

What has been your best adventuring purchase below $100?

Tricky; probably my stove (MSR Pocket Rocket) or my camping mug with a carabiner for a handle – I think it cost me about £2.50 5 years ago and it’s still going strong.

My favourite all time purchase, which was only just over $100 in the sale is my Mountain Equipment Alpamayo Jacket. It’s a synthetic filled belay jacket that I use all the time; when commuting, when walking, when travelling and even sometimes when belaying. 

Adventurer Zoe Hudson
Looking across the Menai Straight to Anglesey, North Wales, UK

What is your best advice for other adventurers?

Start small and build from there. Reach out to find fellow adventurers – Twitter is great for this, go to talks and adventure film nights for inspiration. Finally, and I should follow this advice myself; everyone’s adventure threshold is different – don’t feel that you are any less of adventurer than Everest summiteers or people walking the length and breadth of a continent, just push your boundaries a little bit and see what’s out there.

Adventurer Zoe Hudson
Whitesand Bay, Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK

What will the future bring?

Hopefully the completion of my PhD and many more adventures great and small. I’m heading to India later this year and also hoping to return to the African continent with a trip to Rwanda and Uganda in 2018. Alongside those, I’ll try and continue my two regular blog series: #mountainofthemonth and #onedayadventures.

Visit Zoe Hudson on her website and follow her on Instagram and Twitter

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