The Adventure Handbook Tells Travel Stories With A Difference
Personal narratives meet meltingly beautiful photography.
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Anyone who has travelled on a budget knows how stressful travel can be. You can find yourself pressed against the window of an overheated bus for 12 hours, with terrible bathroom prospects and a deranged child warrior kicking your seat. Or you can share wedges of pineapple with a hunky stranger on a beach. To really travel is to let adventure knock you around a bit with slaps and hugs until you learn your lesson – and that lesson can be anything.
Luckily, independent storytelling collective The Adventure Handbook is sharing these lessons around, while making anyone with even limited wanderlust start to look up flights.
A collective born of beer and darts
Supposedly devised in a garage by four creative-type friends over beer and darts, The Adventure Handbook began as a social media mash-up of stories from photographers Ryan Kenny and Luke Byrne, writer Oliver Mol and graphic designer/creative leader Ben Tan during their rollicking journeys around Australia. Since then, the collective has evolved into a sleek storytelling site, edited by Emilia Batchelor, with curated ‘weekly takeover’ narratives on Instagram that celebrate the daring, personal and epiphanic side to travel –teamed up with meltingly beautiful photography, of course.
Stories are drawn from a growing base of intrepid and urban storytellers, photographers and adventurers from around the globe: featuring everything from cross-continent cycling narratives in Africa to video clips of cliff dives. Those thirsty for tunes can pick an adventure soundtrack from the collective’s mixtapes. (“If you get tired, go to the last song and fast forward to 7:30 and crank it till your ears bleed,” writes Matt Lief Anderson as an introduction to his graveyard-shift road trip mixtape.) Begun with the aim to give voice to a different kind of travel story, The Adventure Handbook is proving that adventures aren’t dead: they’re still as accessible and amazing as ever.
Travel stories with a difference
“From our perspective, anyone can tell a story,” says The Adventure Handbook’s creative director Ben Tan. “You don’t need a uni degree or to be Hemingway to be able to tell a good travel story.”
Tan says The Adventure Handbook’s contributors all have varying levels of photographic and storytelling skills, but whatever the skill set, the most important thing is a lust for adventure. AHB stories are raw, wonderful and honest, with a focus on the traveller instead of merely the place travelled; on the deeply personal nature of travel, and how it can prick and prod you.
“Social media tends to skew the way people project themselves,” says Tan. “We’re trying to provide a platform where [people] tell us the bad things that happen, because that’s as much part of a story as anything else really exciting. If you went on a trip and you suffered heartache or missed your flight or if the whole trip was a bit of a downer, that’s still an experience.”
There’s a delicious tingle of introspection and euphoria to The Adventure Handbook that makes anyone with itchy feet want to set out on their next adventure immediately.
“When you’re travelling everything’s new to you, and, with fresh eyes, it can really change some of the things you thought to be true,” says Tan, who says travelling alone is the best way to experience the educational side to adventure.
This doesn’t mean that your one-way ticket and North Face puffer gives you the license to be a massive jerk, however. Something The Adventure Handbook keeps in the back of its mind is the responsibility – as contradictory as that sounds – of the adventurer. If you’re going to be a Cortez, do it without the pillaging, diseases and stout.
“I think the first thing to remember for us is that travel and adventure are absolute privileges,” reflects Tan. “Even to be able to consider travelling is a privilege. When you take that on board I think it gives you a better sense of respect while you’re travelling.
While described as a “passion project”, The Adventure Handbook is getting ready to take this project and passion to the next level, even while its staff continue to juggle full-time and freelance gigs to pay its way. “We’re trying to turn [it] into something sustainable,” says Tan.
With a shiny new website in the works for early next year and launch parties planned for Australia, The Adventure Handbook is a storybook that’s easy to watch out for.
(All photos: Luke Byrne)