Recently I reached out to those who I've interviewed over recent years to ask me some questions. Below are my honest answers.
I started these Q&A Sessions to get the truth, fun and challenging perspective to taking on adventurous journeys. It's been an honour to take the time to answer all your questions.
Chris Hayward asks - What keeps you going in the hardest moments?
Paul - Many things Chris, but sometimes I just need to let some steam off or have a good tantrum. Looking back over previous trips it's knowing that the simple things like having a warm bed, a coffee or a doughnut are just around the next corner.
Chaz Powell asks If you could join any expedition past or present, which one would it be/have been? And why?
Paul - Great question Chaz. I’ve followed so many journeys over recent years that I always find myself wanting to do something similar. I have a love for river journeys and your current journey along the Zambezi River looks amazing, but I find walking difficult. I’m desperate to travel the Yukon River, so maybe Ian Finch’s canoe journey from last year.
Alex Staniforth asks - Scariest moment during your challenges so far?
Paul - There's been a few regarding motorist while cycling, but having my arm within inches of being chopped off by a drunk boater on the Mississippi River definitely stands out the most. That one evening while timber rafting the Mississippi was probably the closest I’ve felt to a deadly disaster.
Rian Cope asks - Do you ever feel like 'Going Solo' may start to wear thin and you start to prefer the company of adventuring with others more? Or will solo adventures always be your preference?
Paul - Yes and No. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some great solo journeys and in recent years I’ve been more fortunate to travel with my partner Kelly from kayaking the Baltic Sea, cycling through Europe, Canada and the US, rafting the Danube River and now this coming journey to kayak the ‘Inside Passage’. Even if traveling with others it’s still a ‘solo’ journey of discovery on the inside.
Tegan Phillips asks - If you had to eat one type of food and only that food for the whole adventure, what would it be? *qualification: your only utensil is a teaspoon
Paul - Well it’s a toss between pasta and doughnuts... actually I could just live on doughnuts - rings, chocolate, apple, cream, jam, custard... love them all. I would take great pleasure devouring a doughnut with a teaspoon.
Matt Prior asks - Who's the most interesting person you've met on your travels?
Paul - This is a hard one to pin down due to the amount of people I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with. Someone who stands out the most was a gentleman who told me his name was John Doe. While cycling my bikecar across Canada I met John who was cycling in the opposite direction. He was a university professor from Vancouver. John passed forward his experiences of cycling West to East, and his stories were super interesting... Especially his story regarding camping with Big Foots near Hope, BC - John left me convinced.
Rob Saunders asks - What was the most rewarding experience from all of your adventures?
Paul - Proving that my bikecar would work. Before I departed Grimsby on my homemade bikecar many people doubted the capability of my creation. The bikecar and I went on to cycle over 10,000km through two continents and 10 countries.
Squash Falconer asks - What would be your top three pieces of advice for other people?
Paul - #1, It’s ok to say NO. It’s important to say “yes” to new challenges or new situations, but it’s equally important to say “no”. I’ve found myself in some questionable circumstances, like the time I was approached by swingers on the Mississippi River - a perfect time saying NO was acceptable.
#2, Don’t rely on sponsorship to fund your adventures. Work hard at what you know best and fund as much of your journey as you can yourself. I love my job as it gives me the ability to fund my travels.
#3, It’s ok to judge strangers. I’ve been very lucky to be taken in by strangers on all my journeys, but I don’t always say yes to people who offer out their generosity. Not everyone's intentions are honest and I believe it’s important to trust your gut before committing to a decision.
Charlie Head asks - What's your favourite leaf to wipe your arse with?
Paul - I’m always on the search for the perfect 3 ply leaf or the soft Lamb’s Ear leaf... but sadly they’re never around and have to compromise with a crusty Maple leaf.
Olie Hunter Smart asks - What are your top 3 pieces of kit for your upcoming kayak expedition?
1 - My Hotcore sleeping bag. I fell in love with this while cycling across Canada/US last year.
2 - Endless dry bags from MEC. Their Nano 3D range is fantastic.
3 - My NEW Going Solo Adventures customised North America Buff Map... obviously. Available for purchase on my website ;)
Olie Hunter Smart asks - How do you and Kelly agree on what you do as your next adventure together?
Paul - It mostly depends on where in the world we are. We try to find something that's near to a location where we live or gets us back to specific location. Both Kelly and I have a list of growing destinations to visit, I’ve been promising Kelly we will do a warmer trip in future years... Fiji would be fun.
Jake Wilcox asks - Favorite place you have explored and why? And where is the one place you would like to go?
Paul - The Canadian Rockies are my favourite place to visit, I try and get back there as often as possible. Hopefully I will get to see them again this year.
I’m super keen to see Alaska and this years trip will give me a small taste to what Alaska has to offer. I’m definitely drawn more to the the Northern hemisphere.
Jamie Ramsey asks - How much suffering (both physically/mentally/emotionally) are you willing to endure to reach somewhere truly spectacular...?
Paul - Great question Jamie. I've pushed myself pretty hard at some point during my trips, this could be to reach the top of a mountain pass, paddle all day and night to reach a destination. I've definitely been shed some tears to reach that goal or pushed as hard as I can physically knowing that there is a cheese burger or pepperoni pizza at the end.
Ian Finch asks - The 3 truths question, If this is your last day on earth, many years from now, You've accomplished everything you always wanted to accomplish in life. Its your last day and you feel fulfilled and done. Everybody you care about is around you that you care about. Your blogs, your adventures and all your achievements are wiped from the internet, books and videos too. Nothing exists. You get to write down 3 simple truths, things that you know to be true that you share to your friends and to the world about adventure. What are they??
Paul - A fantastically challenging question Ian, so many ways to explore this question. Hopefully the way I've deciphered it works.
#1, Have no boundaries. Give yourself the freedom to explore new paths as they develop on a journey.
I never set strick rules upon a journey. If something comes our way that offers a change in our direction, mode of transportation or an opportunity to try something new we will accept and carry on down a new path.
#2, Find a healthy balance between what you love doing and work.
For a long time now I've been very happy with working my socks of at my chosen job and taking on the next adventurous journey. My job is exciting and gives me the financial freedom to keep exploring.
#3, Never stop asking questions.
I'm always asking people questions which I met on my trips about their life, job and experiences. I'm often inspired by what others do, and without asking questions I'd never get a glimpse into strangers lives.
Aaron Mitchell asks - If you had the opportunity to meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you do for a two week expedition?
Paul - My grandad. Sadly he passed away a number of years back, but he loved making things in his shed. As a child we’d often make this with his scrap wood.
I would love to spend a week creating a mode of transportation, and then spend a week seeing how far we'd get.
He would have loved the bikecar.
Benno Rawlinson asks - What's going to be your luxury item for the trip? And what kick started the idea to cover people's various expeditions
Paul - First part of your question is easy to answer, obviously a selection of my customized buff designs.
The second is slightly complicated and selfish. Many moons back an online adventure magazine reached out and asked me to do some articles for them... so I did. They basically told me I wasn't good enough, despite keeping my content.
Feeling let down I decided to carry on and self publish on my own website in spite of their comments. The Q&A sessions have been a hit since. I really wanted to find a way to share other people's achievements alongside my own. I think it's important that the adventure and exploration community share and support each other more.
Amy Tunstall asks - What is the strangest thing to happen on any of your trips?
Paul - while on my bikecar cycling through Ontario a lady in her 50’s was thumbing for a ride. As I got closer she was still thumbing, and there was no other traffic on the road. As I slowed down and got within 10ft of her she dropped her trousers and underwear... and continued to hitch for a ride. I quickly picked up my pace and left her behind with all on show.
Amy Tunstall asks - Which expedition was the most challenging, why?
Paul - My first journey, that trip through Europe on the bikecar taught me lots of life lessons. It also nearly broke me. In my teens and through to my 20’s I've struggled with not being accepted and having no friends. I was heavily bullied through school and college to a point where I opted to take my own life.
This journey across Europe took me back mentally to them dark times. I revisited points in my life and questioned what if I did things differently. When times got challenging on that trip across Europe or when the bikecar broke down I often looked at myself as a failure. It wasn't until the last day of the trip, the hardest days of that expedition that things clicked in my head for the better.
Ash Dykes asks - What's your most embarrassing moment / "Epic Fail" on an adventure!?
Paul - Ha, easy... I pooped my pants on the Mississippi River due to a combination of food poisoning and not being able to row to the river shoreline quick enough... oh and a police boat.
A HUGE THANK YOU to all those who asked questions, take interest in my journeys and to those who love the Q&A SEssions