Alastair: Hi Paul, can you start by giving us a quick outline of your adventure?
Paul: Myself and two buddies from uni decided it would be funny to try and drive a London taxi to Australia and break the world record for the longest ever taxi journey. We set off from Covent Garden in a taxi we bought off eBay for 1,200 quid. It continuously broke down the whole way.
We ended up getting a bit of support, in terms of followers and some press coverage, and out of the blue a company asked to sponsor us to go the whole way around the world! So, we ended up turning what was supposed to be a six month expedition into a 16-month expedition. We arrived back in London in May 2012, having broken two world records. One for the longest ever taxi journey; one for the highest ever taxi journey. We drove 43,000 miles through 50 countries and raised £20,000 for the Red Cross. We also racked up £80,000 on the taxi fare meter, which was on the whole way.
Alastair: (laughs) Fantastic. I love that the premise of your whole adventure was that it would be funny. That’s a good starting point, I think.
Paul: (laughs) It was true. It started in a pub, and obviously we visited a few pubs on the way, and it was designed to be fun. It wasn’t designed to be arduous, it was designed to be an adventure with two buddies in a truly ridiculous vehicle.
Alastair: Why did you decide to go for a taxi? Was it purely just comedy or had you been having some yearnings for adventure and were casting around for an idea? Or is it that you suddenly had this idea and you’d never thought about adventure before that?
Paul: I’d had yearnings of adventure. It wasn’t the first thing that I’d done. I’d previously gone on smaller adventures myself, having hitch-hiked across West Africa, organized projects in East Africa, kayaked in the Nile, climbed some mountains, snowboarding here and there. These are all trips which could be done over a much shorter time scale. So that sort of itch for a bigger adventure was there. We were talking about maybe doing something big, a big road trip somewhere, and then the idea just came in the back of a taxi one evening. What’s the longest ever taxi journey? Found out there’s a world record. Decided to try and break it. The only taxi we could use was a classic London cab. So that’s what we did.
Alastair: How long did it take from having the idea until the trip began?
Paul: A long time. Three years. We were still students. We decided we wanted to do it, so we told people we were going to do it and nobody believed us. So we spent our student loans on a black cab from eBay. When everyone said they didn’t believe us about the trip, we could show them a photo. But we were still a million miles away from being able to fund a road trip like this, so we saved and worked part-time jobs. We graduated and then got real grown-up jobs in the city, knowing full well that we were going to quit them. We did it just to earn a bit of cash and just saved and saved and saved. Eventually I handed in my notice. We re-built the taxi with some modifications though none of us knew what we were doing, but we blagged it. Then we set off.
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