Laura Bingham is a British adventurer, having travelled extensively in her early adulthood, Laura, who speaks fluent Spanish, ditched conventional English life to live in Mexico teaching English and helping a jaguar conservation project for the Mexican government. We chatted to Laura about her career as a female explorer, how she's found being a mum to twins and family lockdown adventures!
Hi Laura , please tell us a little about yourself and your family…
My husband, Ed, walked the length of the Amazon for two and a half years, which launched his TV career with the Discovery channel, he then survived on a desert island for 60 days which thrusted him into becoming a survival expert. I cycled the length of South America with no money to support Operation South America and then led a world first expedition to locate the source of the Essequibo River in Guyana and then kayak the length of it.
Ed and I have a beautiful son, Ranulph, the name was inspired by Ranulph Fiennes and two beautiful twin daughters, Mary and Camilla (Molly and Milly for short).
We live in a grade 2 listed house with 6 acres with the aim to become as self sustaining as possible, so we have pigs, chickens, bees, a horse, dogs, a cat and don’t forget the 3 fish in our fish tank!
Can you tell us a bit about your career as a female explorer?
It all started because I was lost, and in a grave amount of emotional pain. I was the stereotypical cliche of a teenager, looking to leave England in search of what made me happy, after 4 years of travelling, I realised it was travelling that made me happy, so my career of adventuring began! With every adventure the limits of what I believed I was capable of just grew and grew until I found myself trekking through the jungle trying to find the source of a river.
My life has changed massively! I feel like being a parent has aged me 15 years at least, and I feel like a proper adult now. I think having done expeditions its really engrained into me that everything ebbs and flows, and that everything in life is a passing phase, this has really helped me get through tough parenting days or phasing as I know that a great day or phase is just around the corner, its also really helped me to appreciate every day as I know these precious young years will soon be gone! And I'll never get them back!
Expeditions have also taught me a lot about risk assessments and perceived risks. I think we tend to overly coddle children nowadays when we actually need to teach them how to risk assess on their own, rather than tell them their limits. For example, Ran has his own small knife at home which is used to help cut up veg and fruit so he can understand how to use a knife safely. We also allow him to use lighters to light candles under supervision.
What’s it like being a mum to twins?
Wowzers, it has its challenges! I've not had a day time nap as they only really sleep at the same time when they’re being pushed in the buggy or being driven and when I get one to sleep the other one
cries and I have to put the asleep one down to rock the other one, so then the one I've just put down wakes up! Because I've just had to put her down, they tend to dislike being breast fed together! So its just a constant juggling act! But I love it! I love them and I do think they’re very easy babies, really. They’re so happy and only cry then there is a genuine problem.
One of the perks is definitely being able to dress them in matching outfits! Frugi sent me some gorgeous organic cotton buzzy bee baby grows! I'm a sucker for a bee print.
I think happy is an extreme word, I'd say that I'm keeping everyone alive! Which is the main aim of the day. The silver lining of all of Ed's work being cancelled is that he’s been here to help with the children and he’s had a great period of time (a year and counting) to really strengthen those relationships.
Do you have any tips for lockdown adventures with kids?
Ran is an outdoor child, he just goes bonkers if he’s indoors too long so we just try to get outside as much as possible! Thankfully we have a big garden so we are able to be outside a lot and the amount of baking we’ve done has been unreal! I've written a couple of children’s books about my cycling adventure and in the back there’s some questions which can be a great starting point for getting kids to think about planning their own adventure.
Ran and I love making things with nature, either treats or art. At the moment the hawthorns and rose hips are out so we’ve been going off to forage them to make fruit leather which is a very tasty snack!
What essentials do you pack for family lockdown adventures?
A few changes of clothes! The Frugi Toasty Trail Jacket for Ran with some big gloves and a hat. A few snacks and a warm drink with plenty of blankets for the babies.
What are your favourite Frugi styles from the new collection?
The Buzzy Bee Gift Sets are my favourite out of all the baby clothes I have. I also love Ran's Toasty Trail Jacket as its a really funky jungle print on one side if we want to have a fun day, but then the reversible side is dark blue if we want to be smart! The Welly Liners are adorable and also mean we can get more use out of his wellies, as I can buy a larger size that will fit him with the welly socks now, and then they’ll still be big enough for the summer as we can take the socks out. So its less shoes to buy.
Have you got any family expeditions planned for the future?
Discovery were really happy with our family island program, Man Woman Child Wild, so there were talks of doing another one, but that was before I fell pregnant with the girls. Honestly the twins and lockdown have really scuppered any ideas we had of any trips, we’re looking at diversifying our incomes at the moment so we aren’t as dependent on expeditions, social media and TV work, as this pandemic has really shone a light on how important it is to have a diverse income.
I do love the idea of rowing the Atlantic with all the children during their secondary school summer holidays though!
What has been your favourite adventure to date?
My favourite adventure to date, was living in Mexico! The people are wonderful and kind-hearted, the sun is incredible and the food is excellenté! I love Spanish too.
I also really loved kayaking, I think that has to be my favourite form of travel that I've done so far, kayaking through virgin jungle, being able to observe the wildlife so close up and be so still whilst moving was amazing. I really loved that. The only downside that ruined that trip was missing Ran, he was 8 months old when I left for that expedition and if it had been a month, it would have been ok but 2.5 months was a bit too long I think, I missed him too much so tried to race through the experience.
Do you have any tips for aspiring young explorers?
Do it because you love it. In fact do anything that you love because it won’t feel like work, it will be pure fun! Practical tips, your first expedition, you’ll have to pay for but you might get some free kit. Your second expedition, you might raise 70% of the money needed but don’t expect to make any money from it until at least your third or fourth trip! Making money from expeditions comes from the PR after the trip as that will help raise your profile enough to get a social media following so you can then work with brands who will pay to influence your audience. You may also make money from writing a book after or giving talks, its a turbulent lifestyle so you’ll generally need what I call bread and butter money from somewhere else to provide you with sufficient security.
Thank you, Laura!
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