Ness Knight's inspiring tips for planning your own epic adventure challenge

Adventurer Ness Knight has cycled through the US and Namibia, and is about to row across the Pacific. She reveals how to create, plan and execute your own epic adventure

7 mins

1: Get inspired with a world map

Office map (Ness Knight)

Office map  (Ness Knight)

A world map can help you get inspired and think outside of the box. I have one wallpapered to my office wall, with different coloured Post-It notes stuck on for adventures I have done (green) and adventures I want to do (pink). 

Staring at a big map and daydreaming over a morning brew brings out my curiosity for places I never even considered going to.

Physical maps also spark a real excitement for adventure-planning, as plotting out ideas seems to make it more tangible and real. I can't think of a greater way to spend a Saturday morning than engrossed in a world map, planning your own epic adventures around planet Earth. 

2: Stop procrastinating

Paddle boarding at sunset (Ness Knight)

Paddle boarding at sunset (Ness Knight)

I’m a very effective procrastinator, and the only way I can stamp out that annoying habit is by doing the most difficult thing in my adventure-planning list first. That could be buying the plane ticket, yelling from the rooftops about your new grand plans or investing in the equipment you will need.

Whatever that hurdle is that stops you moving forward with your plans, do it. Pick out the toughest items on the To-Do list and get them out the way. Your momentum will flow from there. Remember: in life, you only truly only regret the things you didn’t have the courage to do, so crack on. 

3: Do it on a shoestring

Everything you need for an adventure (Ness Knight)

Everything you need for an adventure (Ness Knight)

Simplicity is often the best way to get a big journey done, for so many reasons. It’s easier to travel with just the basics. It’s more of an experience, distilling everything you need down to the bare essentials. 

If you really want to do a lot on a small budget then haul out your old bike (that’s your travel covered for free), take a tent with you for wild camping (that’s your accommodation for free), and all that is left is the cost of food, visa’s and a map.

When I cycled across America I bought a second hand bike that was older than I was, borrowed men’s shoes two sizes to big, and blagged a set of bright red panniers from the 1960s. It cost me almost nothing to do 2000 miles on my bike through a foreign country, especially as so many people wanted to help and feed me along the way.

I also cycled across Bolivia with no money in 2016, an experience that forced me to immerse myself in the culture, ask for help and get to know fascinating people I may otherwise have passed by. Where there is a will there is a way.

4. Go wild (camping)

Wild camping USA (Ness Knight)

Wild camping USA (Ness Knight)

Wild camping is not just about cutting budget. It is also about adding the magic of spontaneity into the mix. Don’t plan everything down to the Nth degree. Leave room for ‘in the moment’ decisions as you bumble your way through new lands and vibrant cultures.

Wild camping en route is one of my favourite ways of travelling, as it allows me to go at my own pace and set up camp wherever I find myself at the end of a day. Sleeping under the stars in a far off corner of our planet Earth, listening to the wildlife bustle and snuffle about their business in the night, is such an uplifting and exciting experience.

Get closer to nature and the wilderness, as it has a way of resetting you.

5. Take the essentials

All you need to ride across the desert (Ness Knight)

All you need to ride across the desert (Ness Knight)

My essentials for expeditions are:

Down jacket + a waterproof shell.

One-man tent, the most lightweight I can find.

A Jetboil for cooking up a (mini) storm.

A GoPro for capturing it all - they are small and easy to carry.

First aid kit – there's an incredible number of times I have been grateful for this.


Waterproof bag for passport/visas etc, or just a ziplock sandwich bag will do.

Backpack – don’t go too large or you will just fill it with non-essentials.

A buff – it’s incredibly versatile and a useful thing to have.

Sleeping bag – the lightest you can get that will keep you just warm enough.

¾ length sleeping mat – shed the weight where possible.

Solar charger + power pack if you are going off-piste into the wilderness.

Zip-off trousers – saves you having to pack two pairs of clothing.

Don’t forget your toothbrush. I’ve done this and it’s not fun.


Ness Knight will be speaking at the Adventure Travel Show on January 21 and 22, 2017 at London Olympia. One-day tickets cost £8, but Wanderlust readers receive a £3 discount by quoting WANDERLUST when they book their tickets.

Wanderlust will also be running its highly regarded Adventure Multimedia Seminars on travel writing, travel photography, adventure filmmaking, blogging, making films on your iPhone and more. See for details and tickets. Book your place now to avoid disappointment. 

Main image: Ness cycling in Namibia (Ness Knight)

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