EXCLUSIVE: ‘I quit my high-flying city job to travel the world… and HATED it’


MAGS MacKean gave up her job as a journalist in London to find adventure travelling. But all she found were the same problems following her

THE STRESS of city living can often make you want to pack it all in, jump on a plane and find your true self in a sunnier climate.

But after Mags MacKean quit her jump as a journalist and decided to pursue her love of hiking and climbing around the world, she found herself just as stressed out and unhappy.

In 2005, Mags took voluntary redundancy from her job as a broadcast journalist for the BBC. Unfulfilled telling other people’s stories, she yearned to travel to find adventure for herself.

Having already taken short breaks from her job to navigate her way across the Pyrenees, scale mountains in Nepal and climb Aconcagua in Argentina, Mags believed she was ready to pack it all in for good and set off.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Mags revealed: “I was ready to start a new adventure. I wanted to scale mountains and pursue my love of climbing and hiking.”

She flew out in April that year and soon found herself in New Zealand, scaling the alps. After being flown into Mount Cook National Park alongside her friend Gavin, the pair lived in a wooden hut, rising with the sun and going on long walks and hikes.

But Mags faced true terror when her friend Gavin suggested leaving the park on foot rather than by helicopter – which is recommended by safety professionals. The pair set off on a gruelling 22-hour journey.

Despite her love of climbing, the journalist was left terrified when she was forced to ice climb down hundreds of feet with no safety equipment. Slowly making her way down, Mags suffered temporary paralysis and vertigo.

She said: “I was petrified. Part of climbing and travelling is facing fear but this was something else.

“I realised that despite quitting my stressful job, I’d found even more stress and anxiety on my travels. I told myself if I ever got down from this ice wall alive, I’d never put myself through this level of danger again.”

Making it down safely, Mags put the terrifying ordeal behind her, returning to the UK shortly after following eight-months of travelling.

But after hearing from various friends about healing retreats in the Amazonia rainforest, Mags caught the travelling bug once again and flew out for a two-week and then six-month stint. In 2008, she flew out to the Amazonian rainforest to live, training in the medicinal plants and their healing properties.

But after spending the best part of a year in the extreme living conditions, Mags found herself unfulfilled and stressed once again.

She said: “I realised that living in a community day by day is where some of the greatest adventures can be had. I knew it was time to return to the UK and find some structure.”

Mags sold her flat in London and decided to move to Bristol in 2009, not knowing a soul there. Now 44, the journalist says she’s thrilled with her happy and comfortable lifestyle. She regularly holds workshops for people who yearn for change, showing them how they can channel this restlessness without ditching everything and flying across the world.

She revealed: “What I’ve discovered is that ordinary life is adventure.

“Taking my dog Rex for walks around Bristol, seeing the world through his eyes. My flourishing relationships with neighbours and friends. True adventure can be had on your doorstep.”