Have you seen the BBC programme ‘Race Across The World’? The first series completely passed me by, but a friend’s recommendation convinced me that it was worth a look. After the first episode (there are six in total) I was so hooked that I watched the complete series across two days.
The basis of the show is that five pairs of travellers are racing to Singapore from London. However, there is a catch, the pairs mustn’t fly and must travel without smartphones or credit cards. They won’t have any access to the internet, either. They are given the cash equivalent of the cost of a one-way airfare to Singapore. If they run out of money, they will need to earn more. The couples set off from Greenwich, London, and must pass through five checkpoints, en route for Singapore, starting with Delphi. The first pair to arrive wins a significant amount of money, although if you watch the series you may agree with me that they all gain from the experience.
I can’t tell you how much I love this series! Not only is it about travel, it’s about people and what makes them tick and how they relate to others. One of my favourite pairs was a father and son. They have lost their connection over time and are hoping to rediscover the bond they once had.
The other pair, to whom I could really relate, was a retired, married couple. They were former teachers, in their sixties, who were aiming to have the equivalent of the gap-year experience they never had.
The second series is on TV at the moment, and I will report back at the end of the season.
My initial reaction to Race across the World was to say to Mr FF that I would like to travel to Singapore without flying! His face was a picture, but we all need to hang on to our dreams, especially at the moment.
It might seem frivolous or even foolhardy to talk about travel, at the moment, but I beg to disagree. I have loved to travel for as long as I can remember and like to think that I will travel again.
My very first trip abroad to Paris, aged 16, was on a French Exchange Visit. Although this was organised by the school, we didn’t travel as a group. I remember getting the coach and hovercraft, by myself. No mobile phone, no technology at all. Looking back, I’m surprised my parents let me go!
Fast forward a few years; as a student, I remember travelling with friends across Europe. This time, we hitchhiked (but never alone) stayed in Youth Hostels and relied on the kindness of strangers. With one particular friend, we ended up in Brussels staying in the flat of the British Ambassador.
Later we got a lift from Lille to Amsterdam with some Italians in their sports car. I have no idea how our rucksacks fitted in! Obviously, these were ‘gentler’ times, and we were probably massively lucky. But in the ’70s and the ’80s, it wasn’t unusual to travel like this.
When I met Mr FF, we didn’t have a honeymoon as such, but we stayed one night in a Chateau – hotel, before spending three weeks travelling, by car, through France until we reached the Pays Basque. We had no accommodation booked and just went where our fancy took us. Again, we met some wonderful people and stayed in a wide range of places.
So, perhaps it is now the time to think about ‘slow travel’ and not assume we can hop on a plane for a quick weekend break. Perhaps travel like this will become the norm:
What do you think? I’d love to know!