With Oma baby sitting and Mo and I nursing mild hangovers we jumped on a train up to Olympia to visit the Adventure Travel Show a couple of weekends ago to do some research for our family gap year. Not sure what to expect but as usual nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I recognised quite a few of the speakers but the closest we got to any talks was standing next to Charley Boorman in the coffee area which was a shame as I would have found them pretty interesting (and Mo would have worried that I was after a bit too much adventure!). Nick Hewer of Apprentice fame was giving a talk about driving an old banger 9000 miles to Mongolia on the Mongol Rally, amazing how many people have a side you never realise is there (you can read more on Telegraph Travel) and age is no barrier for when we approach our dotage (sorry Nick, I know 65 isn’t that old).
We had a quick walk round to case the joint. Fancy a trip to Afghanistan? Apparently quite ‘safe’ in the north although I would prefer to visit backed up by some Apache gunships rather than a friendly local guide, maybe somewhere to go before the kids are old enough to say no? Or a company that specialises in an eclectic mix of Guyana, the Falklands and New Zealand?
I snapped a pic of Classic Car Journeys and sent it to my Dad asking if he fancied driving a 1950’s Morris Oxford a 1000 miles through India with me (Dad if you read this the invitation is still open, I’ll even let you drive!). Not quite in the Nick Hewer league but bound to be an experience.
It turns out that most companies are geared to the few weeks that most can find for their trips and tend to visit the same wonders (who wants to go home with a picture of Makula when you could have one of Everest?). Also family trips are pretty limited in South America (unlike South East Asia), maybe this is telling us something or are we setting a trend?
We spent the most time with Charlie Hopkinson from Dragoman who do overland trips in specially converted trucks. Exactly what we wanted to start off and find our feet in South America for the first few weeks but they don’t do family trips there that we can join. What they can do is a Private Charter, all we need to do is find a couple of other families who fancy a 2-4+ week trip to make it cost effective. This would be in the summer holidays so if anyone fancies joining us? More details on another post or use our Contact Form to get hold of us. Thanks Charlie for your time and knowledge, if we can find some other families you are top of the list for a truck trip.
The limiter for many other ‘family’ trips is Lara, if she were Zoe’s twin and 6 years old rather than just 4 she would be welcome in other parts of the world as 6 seems to the youngest acceptable. We know our intrepid Lara has more stamina than people 10 times her age and would be the life and soul of a trip but an arbitrary line obviously has to be drawn somewhere and she falls below it. A shame as the kids would welcome some own age company which might not be as accessible if we have to do independent travel all the time.
The best part was discovering the volunteering opportunities although for me it seems strange to have to pay, often a lot of money, to do something helpful and it is a pity that these are not more available directly. Maybe they are but we need to research further.
The verdict? Definitely a show to go to for an adventure holiday and some useful information and contacts for our family gap year that we wouldn’t have got over the phone.