Discover how three individuals challenged themselves and transformed their lives through travel.
Found Inspiration at the top of Machu Picchu
Nicola had never strayed far from her comfort zone. She graduated from art college, then worked in the creative industries, buying a small house near her family and friends in Kent. Then the credit crunch hit. She lost her job and couldn't find another. Knowing she needed to make a change, Nicola moved to Dubai after spotting a friend's Facebook post asking for magazine designers.
"The thought of moving so far away terrified me - but the idea of losing my home terrified me more." she said.
After Nicola's father was diagnosed with cancer, she decided to do something positive and signed up to trek to Machu Picchu for cancer charity Marie Curie."Going through all the hardships
changed my perception…"
The toughest thing I've ever done
Nicola suffered altitude sickness, gruelling 12-hour scrambles with treacherous slopes on either side of indistinct paths, and sharing tents with people she'd only just met.
But the scenery was breath-taking, and she made friends for life - reaching Machu Picchu and helping raise £60,000. "Going through all the hardships changed my perception of myself as a person." she says.
She found her fellow trekkers particularly inspiring: "The more they opened up and shared their stories, the more I realised that you have to go for things in life, or one day it might be too late." Soon after, Nicola began a job in creative design. She saved and learned all she could before taking the plunge and starting her own design business, Pario One, back in the UK.Read on for Claude's story... >
Conquered Corsica's toughest trail
Supporting my brother
When Claude told his friends he was going to tackle Corsica's infamous GR20 trail, no-one thought he would go through with it. By his own admission, Claude "couldn't even put up a tent" without roping in his wife. A busy social life and demanding job as associate head in a London primary school, meant that Claude barely had time to train - or see his family; hardly the best preparation for Europe's toughest trail.
But Claude refused to back out because he was doing the trek with his brother, Vincent - who was attempting to run or hike 1,000km for the World Child Cancer charity, in memory of his son Sacha who tragically died of a brain tumour aged just two."We were close before -
the trek brought us even closer…"
Back in perspective...
The GR20 lived up to its fearsome reputation. At times, treks up deserted mountains with snow-covered way-markers meant many lost hours. But Claude had a revelation as the brothers made it through the jagged granite peaks of the Bavella Needles, "It was awe inspiring - it made you feel so insignificant."
It wasn't only the scenery that helped Claude put his life into perspective, "It's the first time I'd been forced to slow down and see that my life was getting too hectic."
"Throughout the trek, I missed my wife and children terribly - it made me appreciate what is truly important to me."
It also helped bring the brothers even closer together - "though I did have to put up with my brother's snoring."Read on for Sally's story... >
Tangoed her way to a new life and love
What have I done?
Married for 16 years, Sally lived a comfortable life in Hampshire. But in 2006 her husband announced he was leaving, two weeks before they were due to set off on a dream adventure - motor biking across the Mongolian desert. Struggling with her emotions, Sally decided to go on the holiday alone.
Even the flight felt like an ordeal, with a 10-hour stop off in a Moscow airport, where she realised she had no Russian cash, "I'd only ever travelled with my husband before, and he'd dealt with everything."
Landing in Mongolia, she pretended her husband was ill at home. Sally also couldn't ride, so travelled in a 4x4 with the all-male crew.
"Two days in I confessed what had happened and they all rallied round to support me." Sally said. The course of her life changed at the end of the trip, when she compared ambitions with Mongolian guide, Chuka - and promised to learn to dance the tango."It changed the course of my life forever…"
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Back home, Sally became hooked on the dance. Two months later, she booked a year-long ticket to Buenos Aires.
"I couldn't dance or speak a word of Spanish, but I just went for it" Sally said. She rented a flat and started blogging about her tango experiences. Blogging opened up my world. I met so many people through it and now I earn money making sites for other people at sallyblakedesigns.co.uk.
She also found love - meeting her Argentinian husband at a 'milonga', or outdoor tango party, when he asked her to dance. Now Sally divides her time between England and Buenos Aires, speaks Spanish fluently and has even written a book, 'Happy Tango: Sallycat's Guide to Dancing in Buenos Aires'.
Although she's considered the eccentric of the family, Sally says they are amazingly supportive, "They love the way my life has turned out, I really hope I inspire my nieces and nephews to follow their dreams, too."
Discover how Rona found her freedom while learning to sail around the world.
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and do not necessarily reflect the views of M&S Bank.