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Bear Grylls reveals his top travel tips

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Bear Grylls reveals his top travel tips


This article was produced by National Geographic Traveller (UK).

Tell us about your earliest memory of travel. 

My first real travel experience was going down to Dartmoor National Park, in southern Devon, with my dad. We went horse riding and wild camping, but it was winter and I was only six and absolutely freezing. I remember my dad saying to me: “It’s OK. Sometimes you’ve just got to put your head down and get through the storms because what’s on the other side is amazing.” He was an ex-Royal Marines Commando and taught me so much about the resilience of the human spirit and being adventurous. Adventure always starts inside; it’s not just about your surroundings. It’s about living with your eyes wide open and a gratitude for life.

You’re an expert at coaxing others out of their comfort zones. What takes you out of yours? 

I’m not sure I particularly love the ‘getting there’ bit of travel, despite having done so much flying for work over the years. So, I wouldn’t say I’m a great traveller, but I do still try and visit new destinations as much as possible. In that sense, I spend most of my life out of my comfort zone. I think of it as more of a comfort pit — somewhere you want to get out of as quickly as possible.

Any top travel tips? 

I always try to travel without expectations. Adventure only happens when things start to go wrong. Stay nimble, expect the unexpected and be sure to keep a sense of humour — no matter what happens!

Where’s your favourite place to explore in the UK? 

I love the Isle of Wight. I recently went down there to visit my mum, so thought I’d take the paraglider, the [Jeep] Defender, the tent and head to the sea cliffs in the south of the island. I could hardly see a house, just miles of scenery and plenty of cliffs to fly off. It was incredible. However, my number one is always Wales. There’s so much to it: incredible coasts, mountains, caves, waterfalls. My family owns a little island a few miles off the coast off North Wales that’s totally off-grid. The house is powered by wind and solar; we even collect rainwater off the roof. It can be isolating sometimes, but I love that. I spend so much of my year around people and I’m not a natural extrovert — I need a little quiet time to sit and recharge.

How can people be encouraged to travel more responsibly? 

It’s all about setting an example. You’ve got to try and make responsible living an aspiration. The world is a gift to be experienced, but we always have to temper that with a love and respect for the places we go. People are savvy now; they want to travel with companies that are socially responsible, and you’d hope that the adventure travel industry responds to that. After all, if you love something — a certain culture or environment — you should want to protect it.

You have a new collaboration with Brompton, which seems an unlikely partnership — an adventurer and a commuter bike. How did this come about? 

I’ve ridden Bromptons all my life, so this partnership is something that’s been brewing for a long time. I travel a lot, but despite appearances, it’s not all jungles, deserts and mountains. The rest of the year is spent in cities, at conferences, conventions or events. But I find being tied to cars and taxis in big cities quite confining, so I always take my Brompton. Arriving in a place you don’t know, it’s great to have such an easy way to just get out and explore. It really plays into that adventure state of mind.

Where’s next on your travel list? 

The more I travel, the more I realise how truly incredible the world is — but sometimes the best adventures are on your doorstep. I thought I knew every inch of the Brecon Beacons (now Bannau Brycheiniog), but last night, I was camping there with some old friends and we found this amazing hidden ravine with its own waterfall. It was like something out of Narnia; I had no idea it was there. The reality is that you don’t have to save a fortune and travel halfway across the world — you can experience new places on a weekend or an evening. You’ve just got to use your imagination.

Of all your achievements, what are you most proud of?

My role as Chief Scout. To be able to champion and represent 57 million young people who wouldn’t necessarily have had the chance to experience much adventure in life has been a huge privilege.

Published in the Jan/Feb 2024 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK).

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