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Specialising in Off the beaten path destinations, adventure sports and dark tourism!
Hey there, we are Nic and Paul and welcome to our blog!
We are fed up with the 9-5 existence, 5 day working week and fortnight long holiday once per year. It feels to us like you are stuck in a pattern of normality, working your days, weeks and years away so someone else can make a profit, before you know it 10 years has gone by and those dreams you had are a distant memory. We are conditioned into believing this is the way life should be, holding out for a retirement which may never come and buying away our everyday dissatisfaction with consumerised and pointless “things”. This keeps us locked into the system of intensive labour and unnecessary spending as a result, ultimately using you as a pawn in someone else’s game. But here our mantra is “Question Normality!”, search out your own journey and live the life of adventure, discovery and excitement you felt was never possible.
We don’t claim to have all the answers, but we feel that if you truly believe in something then you owe it to yourself to go out there and try. It’s not going to be easy, the mainstream world isn’t made for this lifestyle, but the mainstream is for followers, and we intend to be part of the revolution in which people put their lives ahead of work and truly make the most of the time we have. We believe the “safety net” most people live their lives by is a myth; what is the bigger risk, settling for a life of dissatisfaction and regret, or going out there and taking the chance to create the lifestyle you could only dream of?
So join us on our round the world journey of adventure, discovery, learning and experience. As we go along we will be blogging about the places and people we have seen, offering guides and reports, advice and tips as well as discussing our feelings and thoughts about aspects of travel as well as money and working on the road.
What is “Dark Tourism”, well it is exploring the darker side to travel and not just about the fun or happy places, but the real ones, the places that shock you or are a bit controversial. Like visiting concentration camps, Seeing the body of Vladimir Lenin, exploring abandoned Communist headquarters or learning about the Balkan war through the ruins. Sometimes the world is just as interesting when you look at the darker side or history, sometimes even more so because it is less well known about.
We also love our adventure sports and love nothing more than running off mountains with a parachute behind us, leaping off 30+ft waterfalls into icy water below, hanging off cliffs 2000ft in the air or riding down the wild glacial melt waters of the Eiger…or just exploring abandoned relics and climbing the odd mountain!
We also like to explore places many often shun such as Ukraine, Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo as an example and love to get out into even less explored areas within these and see everyday life. This has involved Hitchhiking, Couchsurfing, getting involved in protests, eating with locals, having our passports taken off us at gunpoint at border crossings and firing a live AK47 to name a few interesting experiences!
So, some history and background (This is the longer bit, sorry!)
Who are we? Well the Roaming Renegades are a husband and wife team originating from Manchester, UK. That is: Nic Hilditch-Short and Paul Short (Shorty). Now I will let you in on a secret here, this blog is mostly written by Nic, although it covers the travels and experience of us both. This is because I am the most experienced with blogging and writing and originally this site was my personal studio blog for my uni work, however I will be getting Shorty more involved as time goes on and he can write some posts too!
Anyway, so how did all this start? Well it’s hard to say really, the more I think about it the more it makes sense from being a child. I was never interested in what was normal and always sought out that which was different. I never understood why we “had” to do certain things which we clearly didn’t want to do, I guess my parent figured I would grow out of it, but alas it got worse!! I have always been an “over thinker” and art gave me an outlet for that from being in school. Most other skaters just skated and thought nothing of it, but I delved a little deeper and was fascinated in the way in which it made us look at our environments in a new way, changing our perspectives on what was possible. It was at this time that me and shorty met, I was 14 and he 16, and here we are writing this blog 11 years later a married couple! (Read about our amazing wedding in NYC here: Our NEW YORK wedding!)
I continued my art education through to degree level and gained a 2:1 from Staffordshire University in 2010 for Fine Art. I had loved the freedom and room to express myself that university had given me, my ideas were allowed to flourish and expand with no boundaries. But then came the crushing realisation of “reality”. Shorty by this time had had a proper full time job for a few years and had become quite settled. Coming back home to live with my parents at this stage I felt totally lost, I often think it would have been so much easier to head of travelling at this point but for the both of us in reality the time was just not right. I do believe now that maybe you have to experience certain things and feeling in order to realise what you do and do not want, I know especially for shorty at this point he was very settled into his job and routine and although I felt something was not right I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Eventually I ended up getting a job working in a solicitors with my mum part time, at first thinking this would be a temporary stopping gap before landing my “dream job”. Tensions were running high at home and so we made the decision to move out and buy our own home, something which at the time felt great, but now feels quite tying (although probably gave us the perspective needed to realise we needed to escape!) During that early period I started working as a tattoo apprentice (part time, unpaid) in what I thought was intimately what I wanted to do. But very early on it just did not feel right, I stuck it out for a while to give it chance but I felt suffocated by it. I felt used and began to see it for what it really was, something I thought was alternative and freeing was instead the exact entrapment I wanted to escape. Travelling was already in the back of my mind at this point but I honestly felt that with the house and a part time job it was just impossible
Strangely it was a chance encounter with someone in the tattoo studio which made me pick myself up out of this miserable routine I had gotten myself into and start taking the chances and making the most of everyday in the way I did when I was skating and on my BA. We took up the opportunity to go climbing and instantly realised not only is there this world out there we are missing out on but also in how taking a leap and saying yes can totally change your outlook. Through climbing we began pushing ourselves again, physically and mentally, met groups of people with that same enthusiasm and became involved in other activities such as URBEX, slacklining and mountainering. It was at this point I decided to let go of the tattooing and instead enrolled on a Masters Degree course at MMU in Design and Art Direction.
To cut a long story short (I know, already long!) my MA gave me the direction I needed in which to place all the ideas I had about travel, work and how I felt our lives are controlled. It allowed me to make sense of them and gain the perspective I really needed and as well as that the help and support from Shorty really involved him in the work and as such our ideas about our future came together and I feel a lot of the writing I did allowed us both to be able to put into words those feelings we felt we could not before then. You can read more about and see my MA work on my dedicated blog here (Art and Design Blog).
Travel has been a passion of mine since I visited Paris back when I was 17 and I realised the potential it had that I had never seen before. I have been lucky enough that over the past few years whilst studying I have been able to visit some amazing places such as Tokyo, Paris, New York and Moscow to name a few. But the more we travelled the more we realised that we wanted more, instead of just the odd trip here or there we began to research travelling for longer and came across many travel blogs. We could see now that this wasn’t something reserved for the rich or the lucky, but that we could do that too.
Currently I have just finished my MA in Design and Art direction having gained a merit and Shorty is studying for a BTEC in applied sciences which finishes in summer 2015. We are also in the process of renting out our house and moving back home to my parents in time for Christmas 2014/ early 2015 then we will be living there for 12 months in order to save up for our escape to travel indefinitely from early 2016 onwards.
During this time we will also be taking regular trips, climbing, exploring and having as many adventures as we can all of which we will be writing about on here, along with catching up on previous travels, reports and experiences. We will also be sharing our experiences in planning, creating, saving and budgeting for travelling and hopefully assisting and inspiring others to follow suit as well as asking our more experienced readers for advice of their own!
So keep up to date with us and follow our adventures and hopefully we will see you out there!