Over the past decade or so, I have been fortunate to go on a variety of expeditions. One of the most common questions is how I pay for it. It’s fair enough; I asked the same thing when I was researching the Seven Summits.
To make it easily digestible, I will put this into two categories:
- You pay for it
- Someone else pays for it
1. YOU PAY FOR IT
The first four of my Seven Summits – Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus and Denali – were self-funded. By that, I mean no sponsorship and no external support. I was, of course, immensely fortunate to be able to live at home with my parents but I covered all of the kit, equipment, training and expedition costs.
I worked putting up marquees, catering, gardening, interior decorating and working in warehouses and call centres.
Doing that is nothing special, the difference was how I spent it. In reality, I sacrificed my social life and redirected all my expenditure to my climbs.
The rest of the Seven Summits was a different challenge. See part II.
AROUND THE WORLD CYCLE
I had no sponsors for my cycle and nobody else funded it. I did, however, quit my job as an officer in the British Army and in the nine months before I left my life in uniform (it’s a 12-month notice period), I adapted my lifestyle, saved money and focused on the cycling goal.
In regards to cycling costs though, your expenditure comes down to the lifestyle you choose. I cycled across Europe (London-Istanbul) in 35 days for about £300 and I cycled London-China in 133 days for about £1,000. Between London and China, I spent about £15 on accommodation. One night in a hostel in Aktobe (W Kazakhstan), one night in a hut in Kostanay (E Kazakhstan) and one night in a hut on the Kazakhstan/China border. Each time was because I needed to charge my battery packs.
I hope that gives you some sort of idea of what costs these trips entail if you want to do it that way.
2. SOMEONE ELSE PAYS FOR IT
Pandora’s Box! Here are a few options:
1. GET SPONSORSHIP
I will write something about this soon. Nobody is going to give away their hard-earned money just so you can go on a jolly; it would be foolish to think so. Sponsorship is essential sometimes but it’s a tough process.
2. JOIN THE ARMY!
Okay, the Navy, RAF, Scouts etc can do the same thing but I’m obviously biased. I signed up for a number of reasons (this is not the place for that) but a result was some extraordinary opportunities in terms of adventure while getting paid. If you genuinely believe it can benefit your soldiers then you can make it happen. Join the Army, you won’t regret it.*
3. LEARN THE SKILLS YOU’LL NEED
Some of the most interesting adventure-type folk I’ve met got into it because they learned skills that would add something to a trip e.g. filmmaking or photography. Basically, they made themselves useful and earned their place.
4. GET LUCKY
Find someone who is embarking on an expedition and needs a teammate. I have friends who, with little experience but lots of sisu, have found themselves on seriously tough expeditions and battled through. They got their foot in the door!
5. THE FINAL OPTION
Have lots of money or get given it. I have climbed with both categories: those who are seriously talented and have worked bloody hard so now want to spend it and those who have been given an unlimited budget from their parents.
* I obviously cannot guarantee future career satisfaction in the British Army; I also can’t recall meeting anyone who regrets serving their country in uniform.