Bex Band is an adventurer, blogger and conservationist. Her adventures include hiking 1000km the length of Israel, kayaking the width of the UK against plastic pollution and kick-scooting the length of the USA. Noticing a real lack of women in the outdoors, she founded Love Her Wild (www.loveherwild.com), a women’s adventure community now with over 10,000 members. She’s been named one of the ‘UK’s 30 most inspirational entrepreneurs‘ by Business Leader, has been awarded Legacy Maker on the San Miguel alternative rich list, won the Next Generation Award and was shortlisted for a National Diversity Award.
Can you describe something that has recently amazed you? How did it make you feel?
I was very fortunate to visit Tonga in October where I had the best experience of my life swimming with Humpback Whales. The first interaction was the most memorable. I got into the water carefully and floated still on the surface, not moving. In the distance, on the sea bed I could make out the huge shape of a female Humpback Whale. From under her calf came up for air on the surface and decided to swim straight towards me to take a closer look.
It was the most humbling experience. These huge gracious whales just had me in wonder. We don’t spend enough time thinking about how amazing it is that we have all these different animals on our very own planet, each one unique and wonderful in their own way. It’s such a shame that humans have such a disregarded for other living creatures!
What ingredients go into making a good adventure?
For me personally it has to be something that gets me outdoors taking on something physical. I like to use adventure as a way to explore incredible places on our planet.
Why do you think they’re often a great source of life changing moments?
Only when you are in nature, away from your work, phone signal, advertisements and all the pressures of daily life, can you fully just be yourself. My first big adventure was hiking the length of Israel. I remember a moment in the desert where I just felt like it was the first time in my adult life that I had all the weight lifted off my shoulders and could just think clearly and creatively. Adventures build confidence and make us feel good about ourselves. It’s a winning formula for change!
Are we more human in the wild?
I think so. I certainly feel that way! I grew up in a very urban setting and it was only in my mid twenties that I began spending time in the wild. Connecting with nature has led me to live a life more true to myself and I think I’m more in-tune with my body and mind than ever before.
Can you share a story or two about your most memorable moments on an adventure?
I always get asked if I had any near death experiences on my adventures. Probably the scariest moment, while on an adventure kick scooting the length of the USA, when I was sure my time was up, was camping when a huge Redwood Tree fell just metres from my tent. I was inside my tent at the time organising my bag and the sound of the gigantic tree ripping from its roots was deafening. I couldn’t see where it was falling, but I knew that it was close, and although I scrambled to try and get out of my tent I knew I was helpless. It missed the tent thankfully but it really shook me up.
That adventure came with a lot of eventful moments. One day I was chased by a bear, someone threatened to shoot me in the night because they thought I was big foot and I even accidentally scooted into the middle of a burglary!
Another incredible adventure moment was finishing my Israel hike. Taking over 50 days and covering a distance of 1000km the hike ended running fully clothed into the Red Sea. It felt incredible and I felt in that moment that I could achieve anything. I went on to launch the UK’s largest women’s adventure community and a successful business so I guess that feeling really did stick!
Your website is theordianryadventurer.com What prompted you to call yourself that?
When I first starting getting outdoors I felt very out of place and like the adventure world wasn’t for me. It’s full of rugged bearded men who are fit and strong and who have been competing in sports and climbing mountains since a young age. I couldn’t be more different! So I called my blog the Ordinary Adventurer because that’s how I felt….just very ordinary!
I listened to an interview with explorer Alistair Humphreys last year and he talked about going on micro-adventures (e.g. walking around the M25’s path). How would you encourage other people to be more adventurous in their lives?
It’s a great concept and being more adventurous in your day-to-day life leads to a more fulfilling life and is often the trigger for bigger adventures. There are 2 adventure activities that I think are the simplest and most ‘wild’ of adventures that you can very easily fit into your week. The first is wild swimming, even if just for a quick 2 minute dip. Find a safe river or head to the ocean and, no matter how cold, get in for a swim. It’s the best way to clear your mind and be close to nature.
The second activity is wild camping. This can either be in a tent or in a bivvy bag (if you’ve not heard of bivvy bag camping before I put together this easy guide: https://www.theordinaryadventurer.com/advice/bivvy-bag/). Head to a local hill or nature spot and spend the night under the stars. Remember to leave no trace, pitch late and leave early so you don’t disturb anyone.
There are some big stereotypes linked to explorers (posh rich white man for a start) and that must create some huge barriers for many people to forge their own adventures. If you’re comfortable sharing, was this something that impacted your own exploring?
The adventure world has always been dominated by wealthy white men and unfortunately, although this is slowly starting to change, it is still very much the case. You just need to look at who is breaking records, who is getting sponsorship deals, adventure media and those getting outdoor qualifications to see we have a long way to go when it comes to diversifying the outdoors.
I personally have experienced a lot of sexism in the outdoors and often find I am undermined or treated differently as a woman. It is often assumed that I am the least experienced and I feel like I need to prove myself to earn respect from others, especially when leading expeditions. For those who are starting out or lacking in confidence this is hugely damaging. It almost caused me to walk away entirely from getting my leading qualification. In the end I persevered and was inspired to launch Love Her Wild (www.loveherwild.com) to support getting more women on adventures.
What can we do to smash these barriers?
The outdoors has become a competitive and judgemental place and we need to work to make it more inviting and supportive so that everyone is free to join it regardless of who they are or where they are starting out.
I think it’s really important to have role models from those most underrepresented – so more women, BAME, disabled and LGBTQ+ people – appearing in magazines, giving talks at events and getting their qualifications. It’d be great to see more funding and opportunities to help make this happen. We can all educate ourselves better to understand the barriers that minority groups face and to actively follow and look for their voices as they are the ones usually most overlooked.
What’s your next big adventure?
For the first time in about 4 years I don’t have a big adventure in the pipeline. The current pandemic put a stop to that. It hasn’t been a bad thing though. It’s enabled me to slow down a bit and enjoy the nature that I have on my doorstep. Plus I’ve finally got round to writing and starting that book that I wanted to write!
For a while now I’ve wanted to try and travel overland from where I live in the UK to Tel Aviv, where my husband’s family live. So maybe that will be my big adventure for next year, if circumstances allow!
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