We had a chance to speak with Russ about his book, Big Earth: 101 Amazing Adventures
"I’ve never met anyone who’s regretted having an adventure”, Russ Malkin enthuses -- and he should know. Producer and director Malkin has titles on his CV such as “Long Way Round” and “Long Way Down” (Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s border-crossing motorcycle diaries), and this year he published Big Earth: 101 Amazing Adventures. We caught up with him to talk about the highs, lows and future of adventure travel…
Your book Big Earth: 101 Amazing Adventures is an ambitious project -- how did it come about?
I’d just come back from going round the world with Charley [Boorman] for “By Any Means”, where we travelled from Wicklow in Ireland to Sydney in Australia in three months, and was thinking about all we’d experienced on that trip. I realised that adventure is an important part in everyone’s life because it takes you out of your comfort zone. It doesn’t need to be a 3-month adventure -- the book has a range of ideas, some of which only last two days. It’s about inspiring people to go off and experience the world in a way that works for them.
So have you done them all?
I think I’ve personally experienced about 85 of them now -- there are some that I had to put in, but haven’t had the time or opportunity to do yet, like crossing the Darien Gap in Panama. When I came up with the idea, the publisher said he didn’t expect me to go out and tick them all off, but that’s not really my style!
What’s on your travel hit list for 2012?
There are so many places I’d still love to see. I’d love to ride on the Trans-Siberian Express, but when it’s snowy and wintery, across the Russian steppes.
Do you think the way people travel has changed over the years?
I think now, in one way or another, and whether or not they realise it, everyone is seeking some sort of an adventure when they travel. We all have to sit on a beach sometimes (even me) but if you’re climbing a glacier, hiking or building a shelter, it takes your away from what you’re used to. It’s more of a holiday for the brain and gives you a new perspective on your own life back home.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I love travelling, seeing the world and being involved with the UNICEF work that I do, so I feel very lucky. But there are ups and downs to adventure travel and I’ve had a few close calls. We once rolled a car twice while driving in Mongolia, which could have ended very badly. And there are some trips where you come back and have to have at least three showers after 2-and-a-half weeks without a proper wash.
What’s your top travel tip for budding adventurers?
Everyone will take books and iPods, but I really recommend taking a personal diary that you can write in when you feel like it. It’s those moments in a tent at night that you won’t remember as clearly when you come back. And on a practical note, take a silk sleeping bag liner. It keeps you cool in the desert at night and is great even in hotels that you think are clean or sleeper trains. It gives you some security -- you never really know who’s been sleeping there before you.
Ultimately, just travel the world and have fun, but strive to give something back at the same time. You’ll never regret it.