For the launch of the Adventure Planning Blueprint, we spoke to The Adventure Shed founder and serial adventurer Vedangi Kulkarni about this exciting new tool for expedition planning.
First up, tell us a little bit about yourself. Adventure runs in your blood, doesn’t it?!
I’m Vedangi, best known for my love of riding bikes and sleeping out in the wild. I was born and raised in India by extremely brave and adventure-enthusiastic parents. My carefully planned career in football was thrown out of the window when I got the taste of riding across the high Himalayan passes in India and being on the bike for long hours. I moved to the UK five days after I turned 18 and since then, it’s been a wild ride.
After failing to build appropriate friendships or connections within university, I took it upon myself to ride my bike further away from where I lived and figure out what being British truly meant to people across the country. Of course, this mission was a bit of an accident, as I had only planned a 400 kilometre ride and ended up riding a 1,600 kilometre route to John O’Groats, taking more wrong turns than right ones and having one hell of a good time on the road. The nature of that ride showed me the side of my personality that I’d never seen before and that’s when I decided that I’d quite like to ride my bike around the world and possibly get a world record or two along the way.
The bike ride around the world entailed a naive 19 year old old-school-navigating 18,000 miles across 15 countries, riding anywhere between 150 and 200 miles a day, finding questionable sleeping spots, chatting to the kindest of kind strangers, riding through most sunrises and sunsets, maintaining a healthy appetite for gas station hot chocolates and stale food, getting chased by a bear, being stalked by armed strangers at one point and getting mugged at knifepoint at another, getting through a million and a half visa and border crossing troubles, winter cycling halfway across Russia, and some minor inconveniences in between.
I may not have gotten the world record that I was going for, but the ride was enough for me to realise that this mega-opportunity that I’ve got called ‘life’, and I gotta live it by doing the stuff that I actually care about. And going by that, my mission became to be useful to other people and make adventure more accessible. Of course, along with spending as much time as physically possible in the great outdoors, before/after/in between work.
So what is the Adventure Planning Blueprint? Like an online course?
Adventure Planning Blueprint is an all-in-one planning document that includes all the major aspects of planning an adventure. It is created on Notion and is also available on Google Sheets + Docs on request, and is a downloadable digital product.
Basically, if you have an idea for an adventure and want to positively take the steps to make it happen, this one’s gonna be a gamechanger for you! The idea behind it is that, in this document, all of your information is in one place: route plans, fundraising, research, equipment sourcing, media and marketing plans, environmental impact management, allof the remaining logistical details, team and task management and everything in between. What’s more, you can even back it up in different versions, just in case!
Who is the Adventure Planning Blueprint for? Are we talking mega polar expeditions or would it be handy for a week’s bikepacking trip, for example?
Adventure Planning Blueprint is made for anyone who has a keen interest in adventure and wants to make the process of planning less overwhelming and more exciting! The highly customisable nature of this digital product means that it can be used for a weekend trip in the mountains, a week-long bikepacking trip, a month-long hike across Svalbard, a ski expedition across Antarctica and everything in between.
If you’re leading a group expedition or running a business which holds you responsible for a bunch of people in the wild, this one’s for you as well!
The thing is that once you buy it, you can duplicate it onto your own Notion account (which is free to sign up for by the way) and then create another duplicate for future reference. The first version would be for whatever you’re planning now and then for the next time, you can create the duplicate of the second version and start planning there. Take away what’s not required and change the pages or tables to whatever suits better for your adventure.
What makes research and planning so important?
Once upon a time, I turned up at the start line of an expedition that was meant to be filmed without even knowing what Enterprise was or knowing that you needed a credit card to book a car for the film crew. I used to work with the ‘I’ll figure out when I get there’ attitude for just about everything. I didn’t know that I could have my routes up on my Garmin and THAT can be used to navigate instead of my phone. When I met people who had been there, done that, I had NO idea what I was meant to ask them that’d help me in my journey. I had so many questions that I was more overwhelmed, less organised and just let the adventure happen to me, which then inevitably turned into more of a misadventure because I just didn’t know what I didn’t know.
And that’s the thing: when you know what you’re looking for, you can gauge what to expect. When you can gauge what to expect, you can prepare for any occurrences around it and ensure the safety of yourself, of those around you and a peace of mind that everything that needs to be taken care of has been planned for. Planning efficiently ensures that you have more fun whilst you’re out there. On a good day, it can save you from getting drenched and cold on your hike up Ben Nevis by remembering to take enough layers and a sturdy rain jacket. On a bad day, it can be the difference between life and death when your boat capsizes in the middle of an ocean or if your equipment fails when you’re hundreds of miles away from civilisation.
What about the things you can’t plan for? How does the Adventure Planning Blueprint help there?
That’s where we get creative. We think about every single thing that is either a strong possibility or a 1% chance of happening during that particular adventure and plan for our courses of action, emergency contacts, local aid, resources, etc. We have a whole section in the Adventure Planning Blueprint for planning this out. It’s in a tabular format with a couple of examples under suitable headlines. You can change the headlines or format as required. We have added a few guidelines as to how you can plan for certain aspects of your adventure or expedition when it comes to risk management.
The idea behind this is that whatever happens once you’re out in the wild is an adventure in itself. You’ll thank yourself for how much of it you’ve planned in advance. The rest? It’s up to your on-the-go problem solving skills, training and mindset (which also comes under planning and preparation but if I start with those topics, it would be hard to stop me). Besides, as they say, you can’t plan for the type 2 fun! 😉
What inspired you to set up The Adventure Shed?
A lot of what I do through The Adventure Shed is something that I wish I had when I was starting out or something that I know I will actively use as I go on more adventures and expeditions. When I first came up with my craziest adventure idea, neither my parents or those that I looked up to told me that I couldn’t do it. I was incredibly fortunate for that. That belief was what pushed a 17 year old to ride her bike across the high Himalayan passes.
When I started planning for my bike ride around the world, I wasn’t sure what to ask the experienced people when I met them or spoke to them. I had no idea how to raise money, how PR stuff works, what sort of equipment would work the best, which routes should I not be going on, what should I be looking out for along the way and how, as someone from an Indian background (citizenship-wise, culturally and otherwise), my experiences would be WAY different than those of the others who do these things. Hell, I didn’t even know that half the stuff that I did on-the-go could’ve been planned in advance. I was overwhelmed with the sheer volume of stuff that I had to consider and that doesn’t even count the stuff that I didn’t know existed or that I should have considered but didn’t.
Regardless of that, I found some incredible mentors to get through the process. After being back from my bike ride around the world and working on a couple of expeditions whilst still in university, I found myself feeling pretty confident with creating and sending sponsorship pitches, presenting appropriate proposals and raising funds for those expeditions. I was also finding myself looking at maps a bit differently. It felt as if I had more context of distances, terrain, physical features and all that. I fell in love with everything cartography related. That, combined with a keen interest in mind-mapping thought processes, creating planning templates, managing risks, planning for outrageous scenarios in my head just in case, etc meant that I had found out EXACTLY what I loved to do.
Through The Adventure Shed, we offer end to end expedition management services. We run an online course called Adventure Planning Crash Course (which will be relaunching soon) and we’re now launching this Blueprint to help you even further.
Have you got anything else in the pipeline you can tell us about, both for The Adventure Shed and personally?
Personally, I am planning on heading out soon to create a bikepacking route passing through the best adventure-worthy locations in the South West region of the UK. I am also planning to race Silk Road Mountain Race (visa-approval and COVID-dependent), run 500 miles across the Highlands and ride from my home in Christchurch (which may have moved to Scotland when I actually do this one) to the northernmost point in Finland. Along with that, I’m currently in the middle of writing a book about why humans need adventure, discussing the psychological, philosophical and scientific angles into the topic as well as exploring the bigger-picture purpose behind adventure.
In terms of The Adventure Shed, I’m currently in the process of putting together some updated content into Adventure Planning Crash Course leading up to its relaunch. I’m also working on two separate projects focused on raising funds for adventures and expeditions. One is in a funding pot format and another one is an adventure grant. I’m trying to set up one-on-one mentoring sessions in association with Adventure Planning Blueprint to help adventure enthusiasts customise the blueprint as per their requirement. I’m working on putting together service packages through The Adventure Shed in order to offer bigger expeditions more specified and cost-effective services (i.e. Sponsorship Package, Marketing Package, Risk Management Package, Logistics Package and so on). Watch this space!
Last modified: 28th April 2021