Plenty of us talk about quitting our jobs to travel the world, but how many of us actually act on those impulses? While most just chat about charting grand adventures around the world, Jacki Hill-Murphy actually does something about it.
After 20 years as an English and Drama teacher in Bristol, Jacki had enough. It was time for a change. “I came across the story of Isabella Godin in the Royal Geographic Society library while researching for my master’s degree,” she says. “Godin was the first woman to travel the length of the Amazon River in 1769. So I decided to write a film about this woman for my dissertation.”
When her son finished school, Jacki handed in her notice, telling the school management she was heading off on a 500-mile journey down the Amazon River in a dugout canoe. “They said, are you coming back? And I said, no I’m not!” Jacki laughs. “I never did go back.”
I feel much happier when I’m off the beaten track
She left behind the comforts of life in the UK and hopped on a plane to South America. “My family’s attitude was just, Jacki needs to do it. That’s the way she is.” The trip was entirely self-funded – and the first of many to come.
Jacki tells me that she’s always had an adventurous spirit. “When I was a little girl, I used to read all of Gerald Durrell’s travel books. The Kon-Tiki Expedition by Thor Heyerdahl completely blew me away at the age of nine. That was when the wanderlust entered my soul.”
In 1988, she crossed Africa in a Land Rover. It took Jacki and her team an entire year. Since then, she has travelled to South America, India, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Russia and lived in Turkey and the United States. “I feel much happier when I’m off the beaten track.”