Adventurer Anna McNuff on how to realise your ambitions
Anna McNuff was named by The Guardian as one of the top female adventurers of our time and Condé Nast Traveller included her in a list of the 50 most influential travellers in the world.
In 2015, she ran 1911 miles along New Zealand’s Te Araroa trail unsupported with just a 14kg backpack. She has also run the length of the Jurassic Coast dressed as a dinosaur and run the 86 miles along Hadrian's Wall. She has also cycled along the spine of the largest mountain range in the world, the Andes.
You would think fearlessness would come naturally to Anna. However, this mindset is something she has worked on for many years. With European adventures becoming increasingly popular, she reveals her practical advice on how to overcome the fear of travelling, with the hope it will inspire others to explore the world.
Q: What advice would you give to someone to help them get started on their adventure?
A: With a background in psychology, I’m fascinated by the powerful and delicate relationship that exists between mind and body. Fear, self-doubt, uncertainty and vulnerability are all emotions that are completely normal to feel when planning for and taking part in your next outdoor adventure. My top tip for making sure those feelings don’t prevent you from taking to the outdoors? Tell as many people as possible about your grand plans. It’s much harder to back out once you’ve said it out loud. And the more you talk about it, the more real it becomes, and the more excited you’ll get!
Q: What are some things you usually do to prepare for your adventures?
A: I’ll let you into a secret – I still get anxious before I travel, especially if it’s to somewhere new and unknown. The best way to overcome these worries is to work out whether there is anything that you can actually do about them. There’s often a way to minimise any risks, and to make sure your biggest fear doesn’t become a reality. Nothing squashes fear like a bit of knowledge, so arm yourself with that knowledge. Here’s what you can do:
- Think about doing some more research to put your mind at ease – remember the internet is a boundless resource!
- Consider linking up with another friend during your travels if you’re concerned about going solo, or even seek out virtual support by emailing or speaking to others who have done your intended route before.
- Have the confidence that you will be able to deal with any unforeseen challenges as they crop up, and remember that 99.9% of the time, things work out better than you would have ever imagined. In short, worrying doesn’t really help at all - plan for the elements within your control, arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible and let go of everything else!
Q: When did you become so adventurous?
A: In 2016, I had no set destination, no set mode of transport and no agenda other than to spend one month exploring Europe. It was a planned yet “unplanned” social media driven adventure where my followers voted every few days on where I would go and what sights I would see. I ended up travelling across the Netherlands, the length of Germany, across Switzerland (twice) and down through France. I am a huge planner and this was way out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to push myself to the limit to see what I was mentally capable of.
What I hear time and time again from my followers is that it’s not a rational fear that concerns them. Rather, it is the fear of the unknown that holds them back from doing exactly what they want and stops them seeing and travelling the world. My best piece of advice, work out what you’re actually scared of, plan for it, and then just go! The more you do this, the easier it will get.
Anna shares her favourite adventure quotes:
- "Our capabilities are governed only by the mental limits we impose upon ourselves"
- "Dispense with a fear of what may happen if you fail, and focus instead on finding the courage to simply begin"
- "Look at life through a fresh ‘lens’ – question whether you’d like to take the safe, easy comfortable route through it or opt for greater risks, in favour of greater rewards"
Anna McNuff supports safe, adventurous travel – plan ahead and protect yourself before your trip. Visit www.tickalert.org for more information.”