This article is from Edition 03: What is Adventure?
James Wight
Written by James Wight
Published on 11th August 2020
4 min read
This month we played with what adventure means in numerous ways. One of the most playful asked adventurers in the community to complete and riff on four unfinished sentences. The second sentence was 'In the past, I thought adventure was about...'

Lola Akinmade Åkerström, award-winning Nigerian photographer and travel writer

In the past, I thought adventure was about… physically-challenging quests only. That adventure was only tied to your physical and mental fears. Over the years, adventure for me now includes tackling your emotional fears as well. This means softer adventures into human connection are also valid. 

Meet @LolaAkinmade on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and find out more about her newly launched academy here.

Bex Band, Founder, Love Her Wild

In the past, I thought adventure was about… bearded white men conquering mountains! I grew up on the idea that adventures are reserved for the toughest of humans setting out to break records - because those were the sort of adventurers I saw in films, on magazines and at events. Although the media and the adventure industry might still have us believe this, I've come to realise this is not true. Adventure can be an older lady braving cold water swims in the wild or a younger man trying his first wild camp.

Bex Band camping out near an active volcano

Photo: Bex Band

Ruth Allen, Outdoor & Ecopsychotherapist

In the past, I thought.. I had to look a certain way and do certain things, and wear certain brands and collude in certain ideas. I thought it had to include going a long way away, pushing myself to breaking point, getting ill with it, overcoming myself to superhuman levels and then returning home to a record and a hero’s welcome. I knew I would never make it in that world, so I felt dejected and shut out.

I wasn’t the right shape, not the right ‘vibe’, I had work to do and couldn’t justify the time and expenditure. Then I woke up one day years ago more confident in myself for who I am and realised I could define what adventure meant to me. I could say what adventure looks like from my starting point. Now I live adventurously every day in my work and life choices, and when I can I go on adventures that push and challenge me but are also designed to be low impact, socially conscious and a learning experience for myself. I don’t rush from one to another – I take time. I think about it. I try and explore the concept, the experience, and the after effects. 

Ruth Allen

Erin Monahan, Founder of Terra Incognita Media

In the past, I thought adventure was... about freedom, enlightenment (yikes!), exciting and new uncoverings, exploring new places, spontaneity. But now after spending time with the work and teachings of Ericka Hart, Ebony Donnley, Jolie Varela, Zarna Joshi, Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Angela Davis, Toni Morrison, and so many more, I realize that everything I do as an able-bodied, cishet, white woman, from an upper-middle-class background, who speaks English, and holds thin and pretty privilege, and anything that I have access to is because of these positions of power that I hold.

So, I don’t view travel, hiking, climbing, etc. as an “adventure” anymore. They are activities that I can partake in because my whiteness grants me unearned access to them. I no longer paint these experiences in some fantastical, colonizer fantasy sort of way like I used to. If you read Climbing stories, articles, narratives you’ll find a lot of the authors describe their climbing escapades in pretty fantastical, whimsical, or epic ways. It’s this sort of grandiosity that keeps us delusional about our complicity and current, active role in upholding white supremacy and ongoing colonization as a system and institution.

Our (as in white people’s) freedom to adventure comes at the cost of Black and Brown people who are targeted and killed by the police everyday. Our adventuring comes at the cost of Breonna Taylor being murdered in her sleep by three cops, Jonathan Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove, and Brett Hankinson who still haven’t been convicted and arrested.

We can’t talk about “adventuring” without talking about stolen land, and the myth “manifest destiny.” If we’re not talking about white supremacy and our unearned advantages in the context of everything we’re doing as white people then we’re deluding ourselves, and capitalizing off a violent system. We need to be working to dismantle these systems all together. Language is powerful and we need to be hyper-critical of the language we use to describe our reality and what we’re doing.

Today, I’m working to divest from white supremacy through my relationship with the land by researching my family origins. I’m also working to divest from colonizer and white supremacist constructs like marriage, monogamy, the gender binary, and cisheteronormativity by questioning my attachment to and relationship with these structures. I’m constantly interrogating where and how white supremacy is manifesting in me, my actions, my thoughts, my life? Tema Okun’s White Supremacy Culture characteristics help me with this. I’m donating to Indigenous organizations/tribes in the areas I visit, and donating to Black people directly or trusted Black femme-led organisations.

'Language is powerful and we need to be hyper-critical of the language we use to describe our reality and what we’re doing.'

Erin Monahan Founder, Terra Incognita Media

Alastair Humphreys, Adventurer, Blogger, Author, Speaker, and Filmmaker.

In the past, I thought adventure was about... being tougher than YOU, proving myself to the world, proving myself to myself, suffering and being tough. "Being fit is easy; it's being hard that is hard" / "miles not smiles" etc....

Alastair on the Laugavegur trekking route, Iceland

Photo: Chris Herwig

James Dyer, Expedition Leader, Adventurer, Explorer, Educator

In the past, I thought adventure was... about adventures in the streets, the park, getting in trouble, taking risks (growing up in inner London as a kid), and adventures in mountains were what other people did! I didn’t go to the mountains till I was 16, and only because I was given the opportunity by the Air Cadets, from then on I grabbed any opportunity that I was given to try new things, find out who I was and to go to new places.

Absar Khan, Co-Founder, TACTACK

In the past, I thought adventure was about… actually going out to new places and physical achievements etc. However in reality I've realised it's all about each experience and what we learn from it. The real adventure seems to be within.


Naveed, Boots and Beards

In the past, I thought adventure was… about going through a jungle or exploring a different country.


Chris Burkard, Photographer and Artist

In the past, I thought adventure was about… trying to document or photograph a place that nobody has ever been to.

Photo: Chris Burkard

Dwayne Fields, TV Presenter, Adventurer, Explorer and Naturalist

In the past, I thought adventure was about… people with the means to do so going to far-flung places, and 'conquering' a mountain, 'beating' a river, 'taking on' a desert or something along those lines, but I only thought that because every time I saw a headline with the words 'adventure' or 'exploration' those are the kind of stories that would follow and the people depicted were always wealthier and never came from where I grew up, so there was always a disconnect.

'The people depicted were always wealthier and never came from where I grew up.'

Dwayne Fields

Genevieve Brown, The Antarctic Aruban

In the past, I thought adventure was aboutA few select people having these incredible experiences that I could or would never be able to do. I never dreamt that I’d become an explorer or adventurer; after all, I couldn’t even read a compass and was terrible at sports in school! 

It took a while, but I finally understood that I couldn’t let limiting beliefs hinder me from pursuing the seemingly impossible. Overcoming the fear of failure and realising that with perseverance I can achieve what I set my mind to do has probably been one of the most empowering experiences of my life!