I'm Lewis and am organising a marathon in Sierra Leone to raise money for Street Child. This year we raised over £320,000 and we're looking to raise even more next year. We could do with a hand with promotion to runners and finding corporate sponsors and a patron!
Lewis worked for five years as a consultant in London and then for six years at a private equity fund. The seeds of his 'escape' were sown by running marathons, ironmans, marathon des sables and going on holidays to more and more adventurous destinations. He quit last August to take on 'Equator to Equator via Antarctica'
Decide what your dreams and passions are and just get started.
If anyone wants a hand on anything they think I might be helpful in then please let me know!
I'm currently writing this from a beach-side campsite in the north of Zambia where I am waiting for a ferry to take me further north to Burundi. From there I am planning to head to Rwanda and Uganda before finishing my trip in Ethiopia.
I started the trip at the equator in Ecuador and travelled down from there through Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. At the very bottom of Argentina I boarded a century old tall ship and sailed to Antarctica. From there we went to the amazing island of South Georgia before sailing across the Atlantic to Cape Town. I was one of the crew on the boat which has over 30 different sails that all need to be set, tweaked and trimmed almost constantly.
From Cape Town I made my way up through South Africa and into Mozambique. I mostly used public transport and hitchhiking to get from there to Malawi and finally crossed over into Zambia last month.
Up until just before the trip I worked for a number of years in investment and management consulting before deciding to move into private equity. I worked for six years at one of the largest private equity funds of funds helping run their listed private equity vehicle.
There are lots of reasons for deciding that I needed a change. Probably the main one is that I felt I was in too much of a routine. We are almost all in a 9-5 routine from the age of about 4. Pre school, school, college, university and work. When do we get a chance to have a time out and to follow other passions and dreams that we may have?
If you are lucky enough to be able to work in a major city like London for a number of years then it is quite possible that you can save enough money to be able to live cheaply in other parts of the world for at least a year.
I've always liked the idea of adventure travel. I'd thought about going on a number of occasions but it wasn't until some time in August that I came up with the idea of travelling down South America and then up through Africa in a kind of U shape.
I remembered at the time that Alistair Humphreys had managed to bag a lift on a boat going from Africa to South America on his cycle trip. I liked the idea of that!
The power of Google meant that within 1 second of typing in 'Sail from South America to Africa' I had found out about a boat leaving on 1 March this year. And it's not just any boat. It's called Bark Europa and the pictures on the website convinced me that this was something I must do and I told my boss the next day.
Very easily. I found a website called http://www.travelindependent.info/" rel="nofollow">www.travelindependent.info which had a list of things to take. I bought a small 35 litre rucksack and filled it with about half a dozen t-shirts, two pairs of trousers, three shorts, some trainers, flip flops and other bits and pieces. It took about two days to organise.
The hardest part was packing up my life back home; taking my car off the road, renting out my place, cancelling direct debits and generally just de-cluttering. Although, that wasn't hard to do - it was fun!
The worst bit by far is leaving friends and family. I've made sure to stay in contact by keeping my http://www.lewisaldridge.com" rel="nofollow">blog up to date and I've been lucky enough to have had my parents and one or two friends come out to visit me en route.
The best bit is the feeling of freedom. The ability to be spontaneous and opportunistic is phenomenal. How often do we get the chance to do that? Also meeting people, seeing amazing sights and learning an incredible amount about the world and myself. It is far far from being idle or a waste. I think I have learnt more this year than in any other of my life.
'Just get started' is the best advice I received. That and taking synthetic underpants. I would give the same advice to anyone else.
It has without doubt been the best year of my life.
I would also say that you don't have to escape the city forever. It's not a one way ticket. I learnt an awful lot from my time there and earnt the money to do this so I'm not going to knock it. It has its advantages. But the city used me so there's no reason why we can't use it. I have no idea whether I will go back to city work but if I do then I hope it will be with renewed enthusiasm and I certainly don't think my experience will be viewed negatively.
Oh, that reminds me of another thing: have a plan! I have met too many slightly lost and aimless types to know that it's good to have a plan. Knowing that I had to get from A to B via C has been very helpful in making sure that I haven't got way laid.