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Simon Parker

Simon Parker

travels from UK

Foreign Correspondent & Adventure Travel Writer

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The keynote speaker Simon Parker often reports from over 40 countries a year for the BBC, The Telegraph and The Independent. He has sailed and cycled from China to London, scaled the highest peaks in the Andes, stared down charging black rhinos in Namibia and documented the impact of climate change in Svalbard. His TV project, Earth Cycle, is currently broadcast in over a dozen countries around the world.

Our keynote speaker Simon Parker is a former Tedx figure and has served as a panel chair at the prestigious Front Line Club, London. As a motivational speaker, panel discussion chair and event host, Simon has reported from over half the countries on Earth – and all within the first ten years of his career as a journalist. His career has brought him to some of the most extreme corners of the planet; from the high Andes and the centre of the North Pacific, to the driest deserts of Southern Africa and the frozen glaciers of the Arctic Circle. In 2016, the audacious speaker Simon Parker sailed and cycled from China to London in 133 days – racing with and against the Round the World Yacht Race, for a BBC Radio documentary and Daily Telegraph series. Simon has been stationed in South America for the BBC, hiked every possible route to Machu Picchu and as a fully-qualified paragliding pilot, flown solo through the Colombian Andes.

 

Some of Simon’s most memorable stories:

Sailing and cycling 15,000 miles from China to London – BBC World Service/The Telegraph, 2016

Driving a seven horsepower rickshaw the length of India The Independent, 2015

Diving for urchins in French Polynesia – From Our Own Correspondent, BBC Radio 4, 2017

Climbing Bali’s three highest volcanoes in less than 24 hours – The Independent, 2015

Tracking desert-adapted rhinos and elephants in the searing deserts of Namibia – The Telegraph/The Independent, 2015/2017

Glacier decline in the high Andes, Bolivia The World at One, BBC Radio 4, 2016

The first journalist in the world to ride the world’s longest ever zip-line in Ras Al Khaimah – The Telegraph, 2017

Investigating the effects of climate change on Svalbard, high above the Arctic Circle – Newshour, BBC World Service, 2016

 

See keynotes with Simon Parker

    Keynote by speaker Simon Parker

    CYCLING TRUMP’S WALL

    • Simon has cycled across Europe, the USA and Scandinavia for the BBC and The Telegraph.
    • His new TV travel series, Earth Cycle will be released in 2019.
    • In Autumn 2018 he set off to cycle the length of the US-Mexico border for The Telegraph. This became a long read and a short film.
    • In this talk he brings this geopolitical flashpoint to life, through his 2,500-mile adventure.
    • He provides fresh insight into a hugely topical region – the people and wildlife being impacted by the politics of Washington.
    • Simon also cycled 4,000 miles across the US in the summer of 2016 in the lead-up to the presidential election.

    Keynote by speaker Simon Parker

    OUR FRAGILE WORLD: OBSERVATIONS OF A TRAVEL WRITER

    • Simon has visited and reported from over half the countries on the planet and has seen the devastating impacts of climate change and pollution first hand.
    • From summits in the high Andes – studying the rapid decline of ski resorts in Bolivia, to the regression of glaciers in frozen Svalbard.
    • Even in the remotest corners of Earth, the impact of rising human populations is being felt.
    • Simon discusses his adventures around the world, but with a focus on climate change and pollution.
    • He discusses “sustainable travel” but the great contradiction in his life – his desire to explore the world.
    • His new TV show, Earth Cycle, also has green principles at its heart – charting the seasonal cycles of Planet Earth.

    Keynote by speaker Simon Parker

    DESTINED FOR ADVENTURE

    • Far from a model student, Simon found travel to be his true calling in life.
    • At the age of 19 he bought a one-way ticket to New Zealand and hitchhiked around Australasia for a year.
    • He then returned to university with a new sense of purpose and attained a first class degree.
    • Before then going on to report from half the countries on the planet for the BBC and national newspapers, by the age of 30.
    • With the help of short films, audio clips and photos, Simon transports his audience to places like the high Andes, the centre of the Pacific ocean, frozen Svalbard and Namibia’s Skeleton Coast.
    • This talk is about finding a career that can facilitate one’s dreams – intertwined with anecdotes from around the planet.

    * A combination of the above themes and subjects can be crafted to create a bespoke keynote – complete with short film clips and photos from around the world. Simon’s keynotes include exciting videos for that “wow” factor – from his adventures sailing across the Pacific, paragliding through the Andes, cycling across America, driving a rickshaw the length of India and more!

12.11.2017

Interview with Simon Parker

How and when did you start exploring the world?

At the age of 19 I decided to hitchhike from one end of New Zealand to the other, with less than £500 in my pocket, and after a year of sleeping on beaches, living in communes and working on sheep farms I was totally hooked. Since then I’ve gone on to visit over half the countries in the world, and I’m on a mission to see all of them by the time I kick the bucket. I’m totally addicted to travelling to new places and seeing them with my own eyes. I don’t ever expect that to change.

What are 3 habits you would recommend when traveling?

  • Trust people. You’ll open up a whole new world of opportunity and adventure. 99.9% of people, from whatever background, are GOOD people, and putting your faith in strangers will nearly always result in positive experiences.
  • Don’t pack too much! I take over 100 flights a year and often visit over 40 countries, and I hate carrying more than what I need. I’ve whittled down my luggage to roughly two pairs of everything. These days you can get pretty much anything, pretty much anywhere – and if you do happen to need something new, it’s a great chance to dress like the locals.
  • If you can’t sleep, don’t stress yourself out trying. Despite the amount I travel, jetlag doesn’t get any easier and I suffer from terrible insomnia at times. Instead of tossing and turning I go for a run, go for drinks in a bar/pub, or use the opportunity to dream up new ideas while wandering around, often in the dead of night. On a recent trip to Tokyo I even turned my battle with jetlag into a story for From Our Own Correspondent on the BBC, exploring Tsukiji Fish Market.  

How do you stay motivated on a difficult journey?

When it gets really tough, I just look back to how much I disliked working in Central London – so even when I’m being snowed on, burnt by the sun or toiling up to a mountain pass on my bike, I’d always take that over sitting in an office somewhere. It’s never that difficult, really. It’s a privilege – I’m living my dream.

Tell us about a favourite experience from your career?

Crossing the Pacific Ocean was, without doubt, the worst month of my life, personally. I lost about 10 kilos in weight and was violently sick every single day. I suffered from incapacitating seasickness.

On a professional level, however, it was the story that allowed me to move onto bigger and crazier things. And however tough it was at the time, looking back on what the centre of the Pacific looked and sounded like is something that I really cherish. So few people have got to experience that place, and I’m a glutton for experiences that are rare and unique.

Like a lot of the things I’ve done that are particularly tough, the thrill of looking back on them keeps you going back for more.

How much does humour factor into your keynotes and other speaking engagements?

Very early in my career I learnt that self-deprecation is very important, and I think it has become something of a motif that runs through all of my work – in print, radio and, recently, TV. Travelling to lots of amazing places for a living is a fantastic way to live one’s life, but no one likes a show off, and there’s a fine line between bragging and informing.

There are enough adventurers and explorers out there, who profess to be masters of taming the great outdoors, Mother Nature or the wilderness. I am, however, just a pretty normal bloke that has been fortunate to make a career out of going to extreme places, and doing some pretty crazy things. But that doesn’t mean I’m actually any good at it.  

If I’m hopeless at something, then I’m not afraid to say it – and I think that is relatable for an audience. I try to fill my talks with examples of me finding myself totally out of my depth; sailing across the Pacific, paragliding solo through the Andes, getting stuck on the side of a mountain in a blizzard. I’m no Ranulph Fiennes by any stretch of the imagination, but simply a journalist who likes to experience all the incredible things this planet has to offer.

How are your keynote presentations unique?

I think my story is unique in the way I’ve combined mainstream journalism with the very trendy world of adventure travel. Most other speakers out there are either journalists or so-called ‘adventurers’ – but I think I’m somewhere in between.

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