Last year, alumnus Dylan Hopkinson (BA Archaeology, 1993, MA Maritime Archaeology, 2008) left his job as a senior archaeologist at University College London, to take on the challenge of a lifetime – cycling around the world on a journey that would take between three to four years to complete.
The downturn in the economy caused some big changes in Dylan’s chosen profession of archaeology. A reduction in development meant many were forced to leave the industry and seek work elsewhere. Despite this, Dylan stayed on, working for an archaeological unit in Britain, Archaeology South-East.
However, the economic recovery was slow and excavations were conducted on ever dwindling resources in terms of time, money and expertise. The ultimate result was that Dylan no longer felt inspired by his work, and with a lack of opportunities to progress within the profession, he felt trapped. He knew that the only person that could improve his situation was himself.
Planning a life-change
“Over a period of about five years I had flirted with the idea in an abstract way, as a possible project for the future. But I had no real commitment or belief that it would happen, until the time that I saw it as a way forward in my life.
“I stuck with my job for a further year, but radically changed my lifestyle in order to save as much as I could – for example, I sold most of my belongings. At the same time I planned the trip, researched countries and logistics, and acquired equipment necessary to proceed.
“The final step was to quit my job and move to Exeter to spend the final six months with my family and intensifying my preparations before I departed.”
To date, Dylan has travelled over 7,800 miles, roughly the distance of the diameter of the Earth. He is currently travelling through Georgia, about to enter Azerbaijan and head on through Central Asia. Dylan has passed through an impressive 15 countries so far. Finding the experience instantly rewarding, he has been wild camping almost all of the way:
Experiencing the wonders of nature
“I was immersed in nature, experiencing what I called a ‘re-wilding of the soul’, learning to switch off from the intensity of an internet-connected way of life and to just appreciate the basic needs of life, and the simple joys of living. Having no electricity supply, I wake and sleep with the sun and the moon, and watch kestrels and osprey hunting above my camping sites. I have a whole host of nature’s other companions rather than being ‘entertained’ by LCD screens and technology.”
Though the record of cycling around the world currently stands at 92 days for a 25,000-mile journey, Dylan is not trying to break any records on his attempt. He is giving himself between three to four years to complete this mammoth task and choosing to raise money for International Rescue Committee.
When he returns, Dylan is sure that he will be doing something different: “I’m clear that I would like to be doing something different when I return. It would be a shame to go to such lengths to end up in exactly the same spot and I have no doubt that I will find a way to make a living in a new and challenging way. I’ve found that my challenge has inspired a huge number of friends and acquaintances to think outside the confines of their normal paradigm of life and that even if they don’t dream as big as my plans, it is valid not to confine yourself to a restricted way of thinking; to learn to believe that everything is achievable if you commit to the work of doing it.”
Follow Dylan’s journey on his JustGiving page
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