Show Notes for Podcast #6
Notes From the Field :: Interview With Lois Pryce, Solo Adventure Motorcyclist
As our first "Notes from the Field", Scott Brady spends some time in London talking with Lois Pryce about leaving corporate life behind, exploring by small motorcycle, why minimalism is important, and even how to travel as a vegetarian.
Smitten with life, UK adventuress Lois Pryce has always been on the move. At 13 years of age, an unchaperoned, week-long trip on bicycles through Cornwall’s back roads with friends introduced her to the possibilities of travel by design. And also to the idea of minimalist travel, taking shelter where you can find it, and bringing little more than bare essentials.
About Lois Pryce: https://www.loisontheloose.com/
For more of Lois' content in Overland Journal and Expedition Portal:
Hello and welcome to the Overland Journal Podcast. I’m your host Scott Brady and today we will be featuring our Note From the Field. Where either my co-host Matt Scott or I interview a fellow adventurer while we are out around the globe. For today's guest, I spent time with Lois Price. She's one of the most exceptional travelers and human beings that I know and in fact i would absolutely say that she is my hero and has inspired so many people to travel solo around the world by motorcycle. Or by 4-Wheel drive for that matter. Lois is a British adventurer motorcyclist and author and founder of curator of the Adventure Travel Film Festival. Her books are truly an inspiration and include titles like: Lois on the Loose, where she rides from Alaska all the way down to Tear Del Fuego. It also includes Red Tape and White Knuckles, where she takes another 250-300cc motorcycle and rides it the length of Africa all by herself. One of her most recent titles is Revolutionary Ride where she spends time in Iran, again, solo exploring around that incredible country. Lois is a regular contributor to the Overland Journal and I was lucky to catch up with her in London, sitting next to her 100 year old Dtuch barge. This is a little bit shorter interview than we normally feature in the podcast, that's because Lois needed to get out and practice her banjo with her band that evening BUt i think it will be a fun one for everyone to listen to.
Hello, I’m Scott Brady and I am here with Lois Price, famed adventure traveler, standing next to their 1901 barge from the Netherlands. I’m going to ask her a couple questions about adventure travel.
Scott: So many people want to know how do you go from leaving a desk job at the BBC to traveling around the world?
Lois: Ya! That’s a good question because I really did transform my whole life. I was working at the BBC with a regular 9 to 5, I'd been on a holiday on my motorbike, just for a few days, and I think everyone knows that feeling of coming home from the holiday, or from the bike trip thinking: “oh God. You know back to work.” I think that was the moment that I just thought, I simply can't do this anymore. It was in my late 20’s, I don't know if that's some kind of classic time for crisis? So I was just like, It's the old cliche there must be more to life than this..
Scott: What made you decide to do travel by motorcycle?
Lois: For me the motorcycle is a wonderful way to see the world, because it engages you with your environment. So you literally, the weather is all in your face, you feel the hot. You feel the hot, the cold, the butterflies, you smell everything. Also it's a great ice breaker because people always want to come up and talk to you. Especially if you are a woman alone. So you make a lot of friends on the motorcycle. So it's kind of the best of both worlds, and it means you can cover distance and you've got that kind of excitement of going off road or the kind of speeds of being on a motorcycle which maybe you don't get so much from walking or cycling. So for me it was the motorcycle that actually inspired my journey. I learned to ride just for fun. Riding around London, but I’d only really ridden in London. But it was that combination of this boring office job and then this motorcycle license I’d just acquired. Suddenly sent me off on this kind of light bulb moment of “Ahh ha!” That's the way to see the world. I’ve always had kind of itchy feet and wanted to travel. I didn't quite know how to do it and I didnt want to go backpacking. And I knew I wanted my own wheels in some way, so I learned how to ride a bike and that was the answer. And then it all went from there.
Scott: ya, a motorcycle can be such a beautiful way to travel because it really simplifies things.
Lois: I suppose the main take away from all of those years of travel that I’ve done is just take less and less stuff every time. So if you see the picture from my bike from the first trip and then, the next one and then you look at the last one, and it's so paired down. So I always wear an open face helmet which I know a lot of people think maybe is not particularly safe. But for me a lot of the pleasure of most of the traveling is engaging with people face to face. I think you can really make a big difference if you can smile at somebody. Instantly. And certainly in difficult situations like border crossing or police checkpoints, if you can just smile and say hello in their language, that can diffuse so much. More than turning up with a big black visor. So I’m a big fan of kind of humanizing the experience. So I wear very low key clothing, I wear normal clothing I say, I don't really wear motorcycle clothes really. So I just wear regular old leather, frye boots, jeans, Bell Helmet, wax jackets, not from the 70’s, and an open face helmet. so I'm pretty lo fi really.
Scott: And that is a lot of the fun of it. Is being able to engage so quickly with people. So you come into a village and you can talk to the kids, so it means you're interacting with the locals a lot more.
Lois: I mean, I find that it really helps with interacting with the locals. It also, as you know, is an incredible comradery of motorcyclists around the world. And that was just an amazing experience for me to tap into that. Everywhere another motorcyclist will always stop, always talk to you. ANd of course the local motorcyclists, they all want to know you. So you instantly tap into this kind of secret world. Which I’ve found really, really exciting. I’ve met so many friends all over the world through that. I always carry my camping gear so, no matter where I get stuck I can always pitch my tent somewhere. And like you say you have to stop a lot for supplies, you can’t carry a lot and disappear for weeks on end. So you do tend to be going into little villages, cafes. And for me the human interaction is the essence of overland travel.
Scott: For those of us that travel, we know that it changes us. Oftentimes in profound ways. For you, how has travel changed you personally?
Lois: ya, I agree it definitely has changed me. It wasn't this sudden thing. I didn't come back from my first trip like: “wow, I’m a different person.” It's more of a gradual thing. I think the main two ways it changed me is one; it certainly made me more tolerant of people that are different from me. More interested in people that are different from me. Certainly less judgmental I think.
The other way that it changed me is that I don’t worry so much. I know that everything will work out in the end. Where I would think before, certainly before my first trip. I used to be lying around worrying about this that, what would happen, what about this, what about that? Now I just think, yea, it will be fine. And it is! So you made me think, it always is.
Scott: So one of things we are getting feedback from, more and more of our readers, is that they are actually traveling as vegetarians or as vegans which I think is a really interesting change that we have seen over that last decade. And it's consistent. And you can oftentimes find good ways to travel as a vegetarian or as a vegan. How have you found that you were able to do that?
Lois: I do depend a lot on bread, cheese and tomato. Which you can get anywhere in the world as I’m sure that you know. But I have had difficult situations where, because a lot of cultures they don't understand being a vegetarian. And so they could really make it out, and so they make a big fuss about bringing me some camel or endangered species in Niger. They say we killed a gazelle, which is like endangered species and bring it to you. SO, you kind of have to eat it out of politeness, it would be so rude not to. So I have eaten some meat, sort of really quickly. But most of the time I manage because you can always find fruit, some kind of vegetable. Or bread and some kind of cheese even if it is Laughing Cow. *laughs*
Scott: We are bringing this interview to a close but I know there is more to you than just travel, so tomorrow you've got what going on?
Lois: Well tomorrow, ya, I’m playing the banjo, with the band the Jolenes in central London. So, shame you cant be there but you go home tomorrow right?
Lois: *playing banjo
Scott: how long have you been playing the banjo?
Lois: Probably 7 or 8 years now.
Scott: Is that something you bring along with you on any of your travels?
Lois: Well, it's funny that you should say that. Because we did a trip in a Ural sidecar.
From Richmond, Virginia to Seattle. 6,000 miles, it was absolutely brilliant, and ya, the banjo traveled in the side car. *laughs*
Scott: Perfect. Well, thank you for being such an inspiration. It’s good to see you.
Lois: Thanks for having me and thanks for having me as part of Overland Journal.
Scott: Thank you.