Published: 11:00, 27 December 2015
A former soldier and bomb disposal expert is planning to ride around the world solo on a motorbike – facing extreme elements, dangerous wild animals and isolation.
Aaron Mitchell cannot sit still for long. The ex-soldier, who still serves in the reserves alongside his now civil job with the army, has done four operational tours of duty, including Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan as a reservist.
He’s done the Three Peaks Challenge and other tasks for military-related charities, got skydiving accreditations, and trained in bomb disposal, leading a team abroad to uncover buried explosives.
But after seven years in a civilian job, the time has come for the 32-year-old with itchy feet to take on a new challenge.
He plans to set off on the year-long adventure in March, riding his modified Suzuki through Europe and on to Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, North Korea, then over to Alaska, down through the United States and into South America, before catching a flight home.
Aaron, of Cliffe Road, Strood, is paying for the trip. He’s given up his tenancy on his home and is sleeping on a friend’s sofa, he’s sold his television, sound system, furniture, books - anything he can - to raise £15,000 to fund the trip, including flights, food, petrol and visas.
He also needs to source a good sleeping bag, tent and other equipment for some very cold nights ahead.
He said: “It will certainly be a difficult trip. A lot of the journey will be off-road. I’ll be sleeping on tracks, in jungles, forests and out in the open.
“I’ve planned a bit, but I don’t know the exact route or how far I’ll be from each petrol station.
“Being on my own I have to be completely self-sufficient, if I come off my bike and break my leg, I’m going to have to deal with that.
“I’m a bit worried about Siberian wolves, and bears – obviously I’m only going to have a tent. And I’ve heard there’s a risk of being kidnapped in Colombia, but hopefully that won’t happen.
“A lot of my family and friends think I’m barking mad, but they’re used to me now, it’s not the first time I’ve come up with some crazy ideas.
“My mum will say to me ‘why can’t you just settle down, get a normal job?’ but it’s just not me.
“It might get a bit lonely, but I think that’s good, it makes you mix more with the locals and get a better idea of the place. People don’t approach you as much if you’re with others.
“Life is far too easy at the moment, I can’t live my life behind a desk. I’m having a complete change. I’d rather be rich in experience, than in money.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the landscape and the people change as I go. “We’re used to hopping on a plane and in a few hours everything being different, but I’m excited to see all the bits in the middle.
During his time in the army Aaron has seen friends killed in action and also witnessed the trauma inflicted on friends who survived.
He is using this trip as a way of raising money for the Royal British Legion.
He said: “I strongly believe that the RBL has helped change soldiers and their dependants’ lives and rehabilitated them to function in the real world back home.
“That’s why this charity is getting my support.”
To help Aaron, who is due to be in an advertisement for the Army Reservist recruitment next year, prepare for his trip or to find out more visit www.aaronmitchell.net.
To sponsor him and support the RBL visit www.justgiving.com/AaronMitchellUK.
“I’ve done a lot of travelling with the army, but this will be something completely new.”
More by this authorLizzie Massey