If We Can Do It, So Can You – Interview with Alan Curr, author of Cricket on Everest

Featuring in this week’s If We Can Do It, So Can You is Alan Curr. I love his story! After working as a travel agent from 2004 to 2009, he quit his job to organise a charity cricket match on Mount Everest. After returning home he wrote a book on the trip which explains how 50 people were inspired to break away from the London routine and totally change their lifestyles for a 12-month period. He now works for an adventure travel company called Wild Frontiers.

1. Why did you decide to take your grown up gap year? Was it a difficult decision to make?

I wanted  change of scene and had never actually lived abroad before, not properly anyway. I love London, but having travelled a lot for anything from a week to a few months I felt that it was time to try a few different places. I was 30 and wanted to test myself in an unfamiliar environment. It wasn’t a particularly difficult decision, I wasn’t especially happy in my job but knew I could always come back to it if I needed to.

2. What were other people’s reactions when you told them your plans?

Pretty supportive in general. Most people understood that I didn’t have any ties (mortgage, partner, kids etc) so there was absolutely no reason not to go. Most were pretty jealous to be honest!

3. How long did your trip take and where did you go?

It was spread over two sections really, I started off leaving the UK in September and going to India, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. Then I had to come back for about two months in February before going back to Nepal again for the remaining 3/4 months.

4. Did you go alone or with family/friends?

I was on my own in Nepal, but had my sister with me for the first two weeks in India and a group of friends in New Zealand as there was a wedding happening. I knew a few people in Australia too so had a place to stay – which helped enormously!

5. What is your travel style? (Ie. Budget hostels/Mid-range hotels/Luxury travel – less is more, travelling slowly/pack in as much as possible)

Budget, budget, budget! I have a bit of writing experience so managed to blag a few free hotels in Nepal in return for writing reviews for them, which was nice!

6. Do you go for tours or do it alone?

I did one overland tour from Bangkok to Singapore as it seemed the best way to get from A to B in an area I didn’t know especially well. It was cost effective too and generally I think throwing the odd two week tour makes a nice way to mix things up and meet a few people.

7. What is the best thing about taking a grown up gap year?

I was far wiser doing it at 29 than I was when I took a four-month break straight after university. I appreciated things more, the cultural differences and the more simple pleasures such as tea in the mountains and being invited into people’s homes. When I was younger I was more interested in, well, partying I guess!

8. And were there any downsides?

You worry about finances more. When I was 21 I didn’t care about such things, stacked up the debt, and dealt with it when I got home. It took YEARS to pay back but that meant that I didn’t fret when money got tight. This time around I was always acutely aware that there was no more money coming in and that I didn’t want to repeat the debt mistakes of eight years before.

9. What advice would you give to anyone thinking of setting off on their own grown up gap year?

Be open to everything. The world in nowhere near as scary a place as people often make out! Strangers are usually helpful and friendly, and ignore reputations – since returning from my trip I have visited places like Afghanistan and Pakistan and was welcomed by people just happy to see others visiting their country.
Wakhan Corridor 2011 - Others 021
You can also connect with Alan on Twitter @Alan_Curr.
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