You can endure more than you think
© Paula Reid
Kayaking

8 pro tips to become a real-life adventurer

Adventure expert Paula Reid reckons you need to write a bucket list
Written by Phillippa Stewart
6 min readPublished on
We’re all about getting the most out of life, and what better way to do it than by making a list of things to do before you die. Adventurer Paula Reid is on hand to help.
Paula’s kayaked the length of the Thames, sailed around the world and skied to the South Pole. So far she has completed over 100 things on her to-do list. Here’s her guide to helping you realise your ultimate ambitions:

1. Review what you’ve done in your life so far.

“At the end of each year I used to look at the calendar and remember what I’d done that year. I saw some years were quite bereft of adventures, travels and excitements and some years were a bit more interesting, memorable and packed with amazing experiences. So from a retrospective view of my calendar the exercise became more of a proactive bucketlist where I actually started to write down all the things I wanted to do and the places I wanted to go to.”
People don't realise how much they've done.
“People don’t realise how much they’ve done. They often say to me: ‘I couldn’t do this and that’, or ‘I’m boring and my life is not like yours’. People either get jealous or feel like they can’t do things. But one reason I start with this tip is that people are genuinely amazed and proud of what they actually have done.”
You’ve done more than you think

You’ve done more than you think

© Paula Reid

2. The bucket list is yours. It doesn’t have to stack up and compare to anyone else's.
“The main point is the bucket list is yours - it has to suit you. It doesn’t have to be a massive impressive thing. You don’t have to sail around the world or ski to the South Pole. It can literally be going outside if you’re an agoraphobic, or making up with your dad because you fell out and haven’t spoken to him for six months, or making a cake because you’ve never made a cake before. It can be anything and everything so long as it’s what you want.”
It doesn’t have to be a massive impressive thing.
You don’t have to sail around the world...

You don’t have to sail around the world...

© Paula Reid

3. Make friends wherever you go.

“I end up having fantastic conversations with people all over the world and they inspire me. They’ll tell me what they’ve done, where they’ve been and what they think I should do next. Or I’ll read an article in an inflight magazine, or someone will mention a festival, event, country, or hut in the middle of nowhere. I just know now that my “spider senses” are out there and are picking up on cool stuff.”
Let others inspire you.

Let others inspire you.

© Paula Reid

4. Write things down.

“I just pop any ideas onto my phone just to remember them and then every now and again I’ll sit down and put them on my website. Having it written down somewhere whether it’s on a bucket, on your wall, on a tattoo, website or blog makes it much more likely to happen.”
Having it written down somewhere… makes it much more likely to happen.
First step notebook, next step Gobi desert.

First step notebook, next step Gobi desert.

© Paula Reid

5. Choose your attitude and take positive steps towards making it happen.

“Things will happen that aren’t always great; life has its hitches, so choose your attitude. You can choose to be negative, cross, upset, to quit, or to think that you can’t do something - or, you can choose to embrace the situation and step up, be positive, be motivated, be constructive about it. That just makes such a massive difference. With these things 95% of it is attitude. Don’t limit yourself with negative labels. If you think that you can’t do something, that you haven’t got the skills, that you’ll be sick, that others will be better, that you’re not fit enough, or it’s too far, these thoughts are all going to limit you and potentially stop you. So just switch them round and say ‘I can do this’ - ‘I can learn to do whatever it is’, ‘others might look fitter but I guess they’re just as nervous as I am’, ‘I am capable’, ‘I can get to the end’.”
95% of it is attitude.
“When I was skiing to the South Pole every now and again a negative thought would creep into my head and I felt like my physical energy just went downhill. If I had a little thought like ‘I’m fed up’ or ‘there’s still a long way to go’, I could feel my positive energy just go and my body became less capable and pulling my kit became harder. I’m sure attitude affects us spiritually and physically as well as mentally.”
Choose your attitude when in a bog

Choose your attitude when in a bog

© Paula Reid

6. Use your past successes to feed your attitude.

“The more you survive the more you realise what you’ve got in you. The more you dig deep the more you realise there is deeper you can go. Amazingly, we are so much more capable than we think. I’ve now got a point of reference in my life where I’ve dug deep a lot and realised that I can. That helps. Use your past successes to feed your attitude. We are very very capable and we have a great depth of character and resilience within us that we don’t have to use in our daily lives.”
The more you dig deep the more you realise there is deeper you can go.
You can endure more than you think

You can endure more than you think

© Paula Reid

7. Just do it.

“There will always be excuses not to do things. On the one hand it’s about throwing those all in the bin and just getting on with it. On a more gentle note, just do one thing. If it’s a massive challenge, just do it - because you can. But if people are a bit more reticent or worried then just choose one thing, a small stretch. They’ll learn from the fact that they’ve really enjoyed it, they’ll be really proud and realise they can do something bigger.”
Try one relatively easy thing and take it one activity at a time.
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© Red Bull

8. Save up for an adventure

“There are loads of mini and free adventures out there, or things that hardly cost any money at all - having a picnic on a mountain, or wild camping don’t cost anything. I once flew out to Cambodia, bought a dugout canoe from a local tribe and just paddled it down some rivers for about four months. Apart from the flights, the whole trip probably cost me £100. I ate rice, drank filtered water and had an amazing adventure.
For bigger adventures that cost real money, I just save up. I have a savings account that’s purely for “bucketlist money” - keep this money separate.”
I have a savings account that's purely for 'bucket list' money.
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© Red Bull

Next up on Paula’s bucket list? Sleeping under the stars on a minimalistic trip across the South Sinai Desert with the Bedouins. Nice. One to add to your own bucket list perhaps?
What’s on your bucketlist? Tell us in the comments below...