Newsletter - October 2004
Inspiring families to live adventurously, promoting independent family adventure

The Family Adventure Project
and Family on a Bike e-newsletter

 Welcome to our October 2004 update: Turning Dreams into Reality

 Here’s your starter for 10

It’s this month’s quiz. Sorry but there’s no prize.

1) What have the following things got in common?
bikini sexy in flippers
       the fate of Fransisco Pizzaro
wrapping airport baggage in clingfilm
vertical ascent tent poles

2) Stumped? What about these then?
       dinky curlers
       pichincho machine
isla navarino trout

If any of you are googlewhackers you should be able to figure it out by deduction. For the rest of you normal people, all these are strange but true routes that citizens of the net have taken to reach The Family Adventure Project website.

Some poor person used Google to track down Fransisco Pizzaro and ended up bogged down in a cycling adventure story involving a Spice Girl loving Chilean policeman in rabbit slippers. We hope it helped. Someone wanting dinky curlers (presumably for their hair) was directed to a tale about Dinky, a three legged dog, and his encounter with a skunk. Obviously the content we’ve recently added to our web site is of much wider interest than we anticipated. So, whatever you’re looking for, it’s worth taking a look.

Turning a dream into reality

With six weeks to go before we head off on our dream trip, we’re up to our necks in detail. Transforming dreams into reality is essentially a practical affair; people need to know, arrangements must be made, resources secured, equipment prepared. Living the dream means putting yourself and your ideas out there, and dealing with the reactions and consequences that follow. People’s reactions have been interesting as always, ranging from enthusiasm and wonder to bewilderment, disapproval and ultimately horror.

There seem to be several different versions of our plans in circulation at the moment. In part because our plans keep changing, in part because we’ve become canny at pitching it differently to those we sense are disapproving, and in part because some people only hear what they want to hear. Some of the mother and baby group, who can’t imagine taking toddlers further than the fun factory, are convinced we’re off on a 2 week holiday to New Zealand …. ‘It seems a long way to go for just two weeks.’ Suspicious relatives wonder aloud whether we have secret plans to emigrate to the New World. Close friends assume it’s just another mad attention seeking scheme. Only one of these is true.

To fail to plan is to plan to fail

With so many things to consider and so many arrangements to be made it’s been a tricky time for two people who would prefer to just up-sticks and go with the flow. With the turn of autumn here in the UK, we feel like we’re putting our normal life into hibernation. And we’ve had our share of jitters… over money, giving up work, leaving family and friends, renting the house out, losing one of the boys to a dingo. But we’ve worked through them.

Our dingo risk assessment identified several possible control measures: elastic child restrainers, GPS tagging, personal issue pepper spray, not taking a dingo or keeping an eye on the kids. Plenty of options there. Combatting our fear of isolation and ensuring a reliable connection to the virtual world has meant developing a technology pannier crammed with laptop, phone, minidisk, camera, solar chargers and enough cables to cover all configuration possibilities, data formats and power sources. We’ll definitely be in touch.

And then there’s the journey to sort out: routes, travel arrangements, accommodation, visas, vaccinations, insurance, equipment, and financing. Right now the plan exists somewhere amongst piles of books, maps, travel guides and timetables that have invaded our house, our minds, our lives. Rough Guide to Canada upstairs, Bike New Zealand downstairs, Pacific Islands in the en-suite, airline guide on the coffee table and equipment spawning everywhere. Here’s where we’re at right now.

The Family on a Bike ‘In Search of Families In Search of Adventure Tour 2004/5’

Our current plan is to road test a few different styles of family adventuring as we make our way around the world on a ten month journey to New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, the USA and Canada. Two adults, two toddlers, two bikes, two trailers, and too much baggage, meeting other adventurous families, and writing real-life stories of family adventure.

While the tour is many things - an expedition, research, writing project and holiday - our goals are simple:
       to be together as a family
       to experience first hand different ways of adventuring together
       to meet other adventuresome families
       to learn about the natural world, other places, cultures and people

You can read more about it on the Family on a Bike pages of our website.

Our first leg is an independent cycle expedition to what’s often considered the world’s outdoor adventure capital. We’re going to pedal our way (and pull the kids in trailers) from the southern most tip of New Zealand to the most northerly point. Like a small nomadic tribe, we’ll be relatively self sufficient, lugging all we need with us on a 4000km journey through New Zealand’s diverse physical and climatic environments.

Our second leg is an island adventure, on Western Samoa in the midst of the Pacific Ocean. With the help and guidance of a local eco-tourist agency, we’ll spend some time on an uninhabited desert island ‘Swiss family Robinson’ style; and explore the environmental treasures of these tiny islands. A chance for us to see if we can fake it as Polynesian dancers and live without guilt in paradise.

Our final section of this family journey is an adventure in logistics. Travelling with our bikes and trailers we’re going to make our way coast to coast across the USA and Canada by car, train and bike from Los Angeles to New York, visiting some of the National Park highlights and lesser known natural wonders across the vast North American continent.

The devil is definitely in the detail and some of the logistics are still beyond us. Like how to get two bikes, two trailers, ten panniers, two rucksacks, a tent, two tired toddlers and four large bike boxes across New York to JFK airport on a hot August day. Any ideas? They say anything is possible in America. Let’s hope so.

One of the challenges in realising a dream is figuring out whether it’s possible or not or how to make it possible. In our dreams we glide effortlessly on our bikes around the globe, a harmonious little team, deeply fulfilled in each others company and in awe of the world around us. In reality we don’t even know if we’ll be able to move at all when the bikes are loaded, the trailer is attached and a cute 25kg lump climbs in. They say anything is possible with training. So, we’d better add that to our to-do list.

A toddler’s view

A lot of people ask whether the boys know what’s about to happen to them. Well Matthew (3) knows he is going to New Zealand and that ‘it’s a long way isn’t it, even further than Granny in London. Cameron (2) is on an accelerated toilet training scheme to try and reduce our nappy load. His aim is terrible but timing improving. We’re hopeful. He reminds us each morning that he’s going to get ‘sweeties on a plane with whales in Newland for doing potty.’ In their world it’s known as ‘the big trip’ and the bit that figures biggest is always the sweeties.

What’s new on the website?

We’ve added more content to the website since the last newsletter and have started to collect and publish other people’s family adventure stories. Right now we’re featuring:
       A mother and daughter story of new beginnings on an adventure in Denmark
       A feature on travel writing by a Rough Guide author
       A piece profiling six families who adventure together in different ways
Plus route maps, stories of our honeymoon cycling adventure and a feature on getting started with cycle toddling. Why not take a look? We hope to update the site on the road with details of our progress and stories we collect on the road.

We continue to welcome your help and support

We welcome your feedback on all aspects of the project. You can send us a message by replying to this email newsletter or by mailing us at Our technology pannier means we’ll be contactable throughout our travels. We’d love to hear from you.

We’re still keen to make contact with others around the world who are willing to share their stories and experiences of family adventure. We’re also keen to make contact with other organisations who support, encourage, organise or run family adventure projects, vacations or experiences. Send us your details and we’ll be in touch.

And while on the road, we hope to meet up with others with a love of adventure. So if you’re interested and will be in New Zealand, Samoa, USA or Canada when we are, let’s see if we can hook up. Our route map and schedule is online so you can see if and when we’re down your way. If we call in we promise to keep the kids under control, put a nappy on Cameron and leave before we outstay our welcome.

Our adventurous families survey is still live online at or without all that typing via our website. Anyone with experience of family adventure can use it to tell us about it, so please encourage your friends and contacts or have a go yourself.

Finally, your stories, ideas and contributions for our website are always welcome.

And for a few more weeks, normal life continues

Amidst all this planning, equipment testing and fretting, normal life continues for a frenetic while longer: work to do, bills to pay, people to see, playgroup to attend. But the freedom of the open road is not far away now, just 6 weeks, 3 planes, 20,000km, and 48 hours providing one on one flight entertainment for two excited, testosterone and sweetie filled toddlers. After that the cycling will be easy. Won’t it?

As Mahatma Gandhi once said “Whatever you do will be insignificant. But it is most important that you do it.” Well, as things stand, for some strange reason, we are doing it.


Until next time,


Stuart, Kirstie, Matthew and Cameron
The Family on a Bike

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