10 travellers who inspired us in 2020

OK, let’s deal with the elephant in the room: 2020 was not a classic year for travel.

Trips were cancelled. Travel companies folded. Hiking boots and backpacks gave way to face masks and hand sanitiser. The very concept of foreign travel took an overhand right to the jaw.

But you can’t keep a good man down.

In fact, despite the obvious obstacles to travel and adventure this year, plenty of our favourite globetrotters have been keeping busy providing vicarious thrills for those of us stuck on our sofas.

Whether pushing their bodies to their physical limits or merely providing us with some drop-dead gorgeous Instagram photography, it’s time to pay tribute to our favourite adventurers, bloggers, photographers, YouTubers and the generally outdoorsy types who have kept travel in our hearts for the past 12 months.

So, with the end of 2020 firmly in sight (and, frankly, good riddance), thanks for doing what you do!

Maya Gabeira

There’s big waves and there’s big waves. Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira had already laid claim to the biggest wave surfed by a woman when she conquered a 22.4-metre monster at Portugal’s Praia do Norte in February. But with 2020 ending, it’s also the biggest wave surfed by anybody this year.

Check her out here.


Tom Davies – otherwise known as YouTuber GeoWizard – was the fourth guest on When it Hits the Fan podcast and recounted his two failed attempts to cross an entire country (in this case, Wales) in a completely straight line. Despite the setbacks, 2020 was most definitely his year as he accomplished his unique travel challenge by getting from Sweden to the west coast of Norway in the same manner.

Alice Morrison

“Indiana Jones for girls” Alice Morrison completed the third of her mammoth treks across Morocco in 2020. The ‘Moroccan Trilogy’ was jam-packed with incredible experiences including finding dinosaur tracks in the Atlas Mountains and a perilous encounter with quicksand. Alice is a future guest on our When it Hits the Fan podcast so watch this space for more!

Find out more about Alice here.

Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor)

2020 put the kibosh on many a grand travel plan. None more so than Thor’s efforts to travel to every country on Earth without flying. Still stuck in Hong Kong after coronavirus restrictions scuttled his intended travel route, he’s keeping his spirits up while planning the next few legs of his route.

Check out our interview with Thor here.

Christine Dennison

Christine has not only accomplished some of the world’s most challenging technical diving – including being the first woman to dive the High Arctic and the Amazon Rio Negro and its tributaries – but she’s also a passionate advocate for women and girls who want to take the leap into adventure travel. Her tale of a silt out deep in the depths of a sunken Caribbean cruiser had us all holding our breaths in suspense.

Bald and Bankrupt

Mr Bald, from the Bald and Bankrupt YouTube channel, was a high-profile victim of coronavirus when he became gravely ill earlier in the year. Despite being admitted to hospital, losing a ton of weight and worrying his loyal viewers no end, he ended 2020 in the way we’ve all become accustomed – throwing himself headlong into new adventures in foreign lands.

Ash Dykes

2020 was the year Welsh adventurer Ash Dykes hit big – appearing on podcasting-Goliath Joe Rogan’s eponymous show. And for good reason. His incredible feat of walking the entire length of the Yangtze River in China had every ingredient in a classic adventure tale.

More from Ash here.

Paul Salopek

Paul’s Out of Eden trek – where he follows the route taken by early humans as they left Africa and populated Eurasia – is certainly not a one-year achievement. But peering into humanity’s past through Paul’s epic out-of-Africa journey has been a joyous way to get through lockdown.

Check out the Out of Eden walk here.

Tom Allen

Anyone who’s strapped panniers to a bicycle and set off in search of adventure should be aware of Tom’s ridiculously informative bike touring website Tom’s Bike Trip. But he’s not limited to providing no-nonsense advice for aspiring two-wheeled travellers. In 2020, he ploughed his efforts into developing a 3,000km-long hiking trail over the Lesser and Greater Caucasus Mountains.

Check out the ongoing project here.

Emily Garthwaite

Photojournalist and founder of non-profit Women Translate Emily Garthwaite has kept us all enthralled on Instagram during 2020 with truly stunning pictures from Iraq and elsewhere. Whether portraiture or landscapes showing off the beauty of the country, Emily is definitely one to follow.

Check out her interview with Words+Images here.

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