The only problem is that travel costs money. It's expensive, which makes it largely the preserve of the relatively well off, and until very recently my minimum-wage background meant that any desire to travel was largely restricted to flicking through those glossy publications packed full of exotic locations, or scouring an atlas whilst trying to imagine what all those strange sounding places were like.
So a few years ago I started having a look around for travel bursaries, and it turns out that there are an awful lot of them out there. Some have some exceedingly specific entrant requirements, often the result of an individual's bequest or an organisation wanting to target a particular group of people. Still others put age restrictions on their bursaries, with a maximum cap in the mid-20s being all too common.
So those bursaries that are open to the rest of us are few and far between, and those that do exist are understandably competitive. Still, I've had some limited success to date; there was last year's Peter Kirk European Travel Scholarship and the trip to Transnistria courtesy of Wanderlust. And I've managed to get some writing out of both trips too; a two-page spread on the Kaali Meteor Crater appeared in the February 2013 edition of Fortean Times and a piece on the latter won a recent writing competition.
One of the grants I apply for regularly is the Royal Geographical Society's Journey of a Lifetime, and I've been doing so on an annual basis since 2006. It's incredibly competitive and understandably so, and although I've made it through to the first shortlisting stage three times I've never got any further.
Anyway, I'm always keen to find out what each recipient does with their award, and this year is no different. As such I recently came across this Tweet from the RGS:
Keep up-to-date with the latest from our 2013 Journey of a Lifetime award recipient @millardwill, via downstreamchimp.wordpress.com
— RoyalGeographicalSoc (@RGS_IBG) March 7, 2013
Now if the name of the recipient is familiar it's because Will Millard won the RGS Neville Shulman Challenge Award back in 2009, with a fantastic trip to West Papua. His latest venture will see him set off on "a packrafting journey into the heart of Sierra Leone and Liberia's Peace Park", which looks absolutely incredible and I can't wait to find out how it goes and to hear the finished piece on Radio 4 in the Autumn.
However a little part of me can't help thinking it would be nice if these awards didn't go to known quantities; Will's blog suggests his application for the Journey of a Lifetime was his first but I'm sure the NS Challange Award didn't do any harm. He's also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
Still, I guess it shows just how desirable these awards are and the sort of competition that exists out there. I know that if I were to get one it'd change my life completely; I'd be able to actually do some of the serious travelling that I've always dreamt of doing and perhaps even ditch the office job for something I really believe in. I've got a few ideas for the next RGS award applications and maybe - just maybe - this'll be my year...