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We live in an age of discount flights and inexpensive package deals; it's hard to imagine a time when other countries weren't minutes but months away.
Most people would never leave the village or town they were born in, and with good reason: journeys weren't just harder than they are today - they were dangerous, deadly, endured rather than enjoyed. Sorting your travel money meant an arduous search for a wealthy patron and a long stop-over was 3 years on a desert island...
So next time you're kicking yourself because you forgot your spare bikini or hyperventilating over a cockroach in the en suite's bidet, take a minute to think about the life-or-death trials and tribulations faced by early explorers, pioneers and adventurers:
1. The Terra Nova ExpeditionAn unsuccessful attempt by Captain Scott to be the first man to reach the South Pole. Beaten to the punch by Norwegian Roald Amundsen by 35 days, his 5-man party's return voyage was dogged by scurvy and frostbite, low rations and lower temperatures.
It's probably most famous for an act of noble self-sacrifice: with the party floundering and he himself in extreme ill-health, Captain Lawrence Oates walked out into a blizzard to die rather than slow his friends down and use up food. His last words were 'I'm going outside, and I may be some time'. The remaining 4 men in the expedition died just a few weeks later, trapped by cold and malnourished, just 11 miles away from food and shelter.
2. The BataviaA Dutch ship, Captained by Francesco Pelsaert in the 17th century with a detail to trade for spices in the East Indies. During the voyage back, a junior merchant and heretical fugitive called Jeronimus Cornelisz hatched a plot to steal the precious cargo and start a new life by stirring the crew into mutiny - but before his plan came to fruition, the ship was run aground on a reef. The crew and passengers were left on an island while the officers went to get help; unbelievably, the cunning Cornelisz was left in charge.
He tricked the soldiers left with him into looking for food on a neighbouring island, abandoning them there to die. Then, he took control of weapons and stocks, his co-conspirators throttling or drowning anyone who was perceived to be a threat. Cornelisz never actually killed anyone himself: he once tried to strangle a baby, but was unsuccessful.
When Pesualt returned, only a fraction of the shipwreck survivors were alive. The soldiers on the other island, instead of starving, had flourished; they'd been able to eventually suppress Cornelisz's regime but not before many men, women and children had been murdered or died in the skirmishes.
The would-be despot was tried on the island. He had his hands cut off before being hung.
3. The Donner PartyThe worst aeroplane food, the dodgiest Delhi belly: nothing compares to the brutal, cannibalistic diet these families stranded in the California wilderness resorted to. Taking a shortcut through the mountains of Sierra Nevada as they travelled West in 1846, this 87 strong group was comprised of inexperienced pioneers and families, many with young children. Arguments, starvation and struggle saw the group fracturing - and one man murdered - before their trials had even really begun.
After weathering attacks from Native Americans, long treks over salt fields and serious malnutrition, the would-be settlers became stuck in a freezing wasteland on the mountainside for nearly 4 months. They were forced to eat the flesh of men, women and children who died from sickness and cold before they were eventually rescued. Only 48 of the party survived the trip.