How to find expedition teammates
You may find, when dreaming of your expedition, that you’re in absence of some vital skills or experience needed to make the venture happen and that you can’t do this without some expedition teammates. That’s actually okay- as they say, the first step is acceptance. I understand though, that this perceived lacking is a big preventer for you and can make you feel as though the expedition is impossible or might never happen. It might be that you’re actually super skilled, tough and experienced but you just don’t feel confident (or don’t want) to do this thing on your lonesome. That’s also cool. It might also be that your expedition is down right dangerous to do alone – so there’s that…
So, maybe you feel that bringing another person along (or multiple people) might just be the thing that converts this expedition from your waking dreams, to boots on the ground (or oars in the water, hoofs in the dust, tyres in the dirt, whatever you fancy).
But where do you start? How do you find other awesome people that you’ll get on with, who’ll add value, will commit and will work hard? Luckily there are few simple processes to follow which will make this seemingly impossible problem… possible.
Before we start, I’d like to stress that you should go into this process equipped with two things, and demand the same from your future expedition teammates.
- You’re unwavering trust: in the process, in the people and in yourself and your instincts
- The truth: about your abilities, your budget, your reasons why
Finding expedition teammates
This is more than rounding up a few extended friends for a holiday, and actually you might find that close friends could be a terrible idea for the type of thing that you’re aiming to do. The type of expedition or adventure, firstly, will determine how and where you look – simply because you’ll need different levels of skills and experience, and these people hang out in different places.
Broadly, I’d suggest 3 main channels for finding expedition teammates…
- Social media groups and channels, inc forums
- Dedicated websites
- Specified expedition companies
Using social media to find expedition teammates
Pretty much all but the most countercultural individuals will be on some kind of social media platform. But, the best place to start looking for expedition teammates is on the platform which offers the most specific niches of people – Facebook. There are thousands of global groups on facebook covering almost all expedition niches and the niches within those niches. We’ve actually got our own group for expedition planning – The Adventure Planners, and there are a whole bunch of other great ones too, like Terra Glacialis and Training for Alpinism.
Join as many of these groups as you can and get active, take part in the conversation and share your thoughts and questions. Once you open up to the communities within, you’ll quickly find yourself in a position to start staging your questions and floating your idea. Post in the groups most relevant to the expedition you’re planning and ask openly for people to join you. You may be surprised how many responses you’ll get back.
Note: It’s probably not worth your time using other, more visual, social media like Instagram as these platforms don’t allow you access to these highly specified groups of people. Forums however, could be a good shout – although some do contain many “trolls” and they can be a negative place for questions at times. Check out explorers connect too, as you’ll be able to post in a specific group made for expedition team finding.
Part of the struggle with finding your own expedition teammates is filtering out the time wasters- many people like the idea of an expedition, far fewer are ready to put their time and money where their mouth is. The organic way of searching and vetting people for your team is the most traditional and certainly provides the most options, but if you don’t have time or patience a plenty then you might want to opt for the tried and tested commercial route – using an expedition company.
Why would you use an expedition company to find teammates? Well, technically you’d no longer have to find expedition teammates, rather than be given them. The expedition company takes on responsibility of the success of the team building – and any good one will spend time deliberately vetting and then accepting clients onto their expedition roster.
As a result, you’ll find that each team member fits nicely and brings a skillset to the party and without you having to do the work to make this happen. Plus, all of your teammates will have parted with cash up front in order to get on the expedition – so you know full well that they are bought in and on board.
The art of networking for expedition success
Everything great that has ever happened is the result of a conversation. Allow me to tell you a story… Back when he was in the military and actively exploring a career change, a good friend of ours Dr Adrian McCallum wrote a letter to Sir Ranulph Fiennes, asking outright how to become a polar explorer. Fiennes wrote him back offering some great advice that helped to fuel Adrians passion and steer his decisions.
Fast forward a few years and Adrian is appointed as senior project manager on Sir Ranulph’s famous expedition The Coldest Journey, and has led an extraordinary career covering both poles and Everest. I’m not suggesting that this exchange with Fiennes is the reason, only that you never know what can come from reaching out to someone. As they say, you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Reach out to explorers, scientists, expedition company owners. Ask them for guidance. Tell them what you’re trying to do and ask for their support. Maybe they can give you some advice, or introduce you to someone. I mean… they might even come with you.