Learning to Give Something Back

Learning to Give Something Back

An interview with Sophie & Dan from One96.

Lessons Learned is all about the things we can learn from each other. I’ll be chatting to some awesome adventurers, terrific travellers and brilliant bloggers to find out what we can learn from them.

So, drum roll please…

I’m delighted to introduce you to my first guest blogger – taking the debut spot in Lessons Learned, say hello to Sophie & Dan from One96.

They first got my attention when I was starting out in the blogging and adventuring world. These guys have a big ambition – to travel to all 196 countries on the planet, and they’ve kickstarted that with some awesome adventures. Last year they drove from London to Mongolia. Because, why wouldn’t you do that!?

But what I really love about Sophie & Dan is that they’re using their travels to do good things in the world with their ethos that a little bit of giving goes a really long way. So, if you buy any clothing from their online store, they’ll donate school supplies to a child in need in one of 196 countries.

I had a chat with them to see what they’ve got to teach us about adventuring, exploring and giving something back along the way…

So you want to visit 196 countries – Why? Where did that idea first come from?

Haha yeah we really want to visit all 196 countries! The idea came to us after we just completed a road trip from England to Mongolia through 20 countries. Countries people haven’t even heard of – Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan – and we saw wicked things and met amazing people that are living in yurts in the middle of nowhere drinking yaks milk. Guess it was like a light bulb moment “Wow, imagine what goes on out there in all these countries that people don’t even know about. We need to explore them all!”. Basically a realisation that there is more to the world than the typical 3 week Europe trip or 10 days in Bali holiday.

As Learning to Adventure is all about finding happiness – Can you tell us how travel and adventure has had a positive impact on your lives?

Man! Without travel and adventure we don’t know how anyone lives! How can you not want to explore this gigantic world that we are so lucky to be able to explore, hop on a plane for 6 hours and end up in a totally different country/culture. It’s nuts to us that people aren’t into travelling, guess they’re scared of the unknown. But that’s what we love and that’s what makes us happy! The thought of not knowing where you are going to sleep that night, how long your night ferry in Thailand will take, are there any seats left on the train out of Manila or will we have to sleep here for another few days. It’s exciting stuff and it truly makes us happy when you meet people from different countries or cultures that have never met someone from New Zealand and you can’t speak the same language but you use body language and laughter to get through.

You’re using your blog and your travels to give back and promote education around the world, what made you decide to do this and what sort of reaction have you been getting?

We think that education is important and that everyone deserves the right to an education. You shouldn’t get kicked out of school when you’re 14 just because you’re a girl – that girl could be the smartest person in your city if you give her an opportunity! After reading “I Am Malala” it made us realise that people need an education to not only better themselves, but to better their families, their community and ultimately their country. With lack of education in places how can you ever know what their full potential is? Education is important, for everyone, old and young.

Adventure is a journey of self-discovery – What have you learned anything about yourselves while you’ve been traveling?

For sure adventure has a lot to do with self discovery! You wouldn’t know how you could handle being stuck in the desert in 40 degree heat unless you went out there and chased the adventure. When you get put in situations like that, you have to dig deep to find the motivation to move on and you sort of subconsciously go into survival mode. You truly find out a lot about yourself when you explore. Maybe it’s stuff you didn’t want to find out, and maybe it’s something that makes you go “wow I never knew I had it in me. Awesome” and that’s one of the best feelings in the world.

Traveling the world seems so glamorous – but can you tell us about a time things didn’t go to plan?

Haha travelling is only glamorous if you are rich and staying in 5 star hotels everywhere you go, this is also a horrible way to travel as you never get to experience what the country is actually like! We’ve been on a few adventures and one of the worst memories we have is of Turkmenistan. So firstly you need to know that Turkmenistan is the 3rd most media suppressed country in the world: you’re not allowed to take photos there, you have a curfew, you can’t have a car unless you’re rich etc. This makes the visa darn near impossible to get. But we got ours and it was valid for 5 days. To get to Turkmenistan we were catching the ferry from Baku, Azerbaijan across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan. We had heard horrible horrible things about this ferry so we order our visa to start on the 3rd and end on the 8th. This gave us 3 days to catch a 24 hour ferry across to Turkmenistan. The ferry took 4 days to arrive (arriving on the 4th) – during this time we slept in a car park for those 4 days and ate corn and had a pretty shit time to be fair haha. Once the ferry arrived we all scrambled to get on – everyone in a rush hoping to not have to wait another 4 days for the next ferry – So we jumped on the ferry happy as and got a cabin. Went to sleep that night and woke up the next morning, walked outside to the ferry deck and found that we were still sitting in port in Baku, Azerbaijan. We hadn’t moved. We were just sitting in port for hours… (yeah we know wtf). So by now it was the 5th and we were starting to worry about our Turkmenistan visas that end on the 8th. Finally at about mid-day we left port, sailed all the way through to Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan. When we arrived we sat at the port in Turkmenbashi for another 12 or so hours, waiting to get off this bloody boat before our visas ran out and we got deported. We finally got off the boat at 9.30am on the 7th, it took us 7 hours to get through customs and once we finally got through it was 4.30pm on the 7th. This left us with 28hrs to drive through Turkmenistan and out into a different country otherwise we would face deportation. We looked on our map and guessed it would take us 21hrs at least to get to the boarder and out of Turkmenistan. We made it through with 2 hours to spare on our visa and a few “thank gods” when we finally got out of Turkmenistan. Guess you could say things didn’t quite go to plan on this day. Haha.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting more adventure in their life?

If you are wanting more adventure in your life, the best quote we can give you is Nike’s “JUST DO IT”. Why not? You’ve got nothing to loose and a whole lot to gain.

If you could go anywhere right now – where would you go?

Oh the places! We would be hanging out at DSWT Elephant Orphanage in Kenya!

Where are you off to next and how can we follow your journey?

At the moment we are spending a bit of downtime in New Zealand sorting out cashflow and other things at home before our next trip. But we would love to drive from Capetown, South Africa to Singapore in a Landrover – and that’ll happen one day don’t you worry!

Check us out on our: Website – InstagramFacebookTwitter


Sophie & Dan’s story is featured as part of the Lessons Learned series – If you have a story to tell or a lesson to teach and you’d like to be featured – I’d love to hear from you!!

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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Hi! Love your post! It’s nice to hear from people who are passionate about travel. Reminds me a lot about why i started int be first place.

  2. love how you wrote this. opened my eyes to a few things about traveling i never really thought about! great writing style!!

  3. Really enjoyed reading about Turkmenistan! What a unique country to visit!

  4. Great article! I agree with most of the stuff, adventure is definitely the only way of escaping daily life’s boredom:)

  5. Hey guys, I hope you can visit Tuscany in Italy very soon! Good luck for your incredible job.

  6. As someone who works with charities and volunteers extensively, I find their travel mission to be a wonderful breath of fresh air in the community! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  7. Awesome ambition. I made the decision earlier this year to make the push for 196 as well so it’s always cool to come across people with the same desires! Thanks for introducing us.

  8. I loved reading this post thanks for sharing.

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