Famous Adventurers: Those who dared to explore the unknown

Famous Cube Abandoners

Abandon the Cube is inspired by those who have come before us. Here is a list of famous explorers, adventurers and fellow cube abandoners from real life and film.

Ideas | ATC


Best Film About Travel: Joe Versus the Volcano

Joe Versus the Volcanois arguably the best film about abandoning the cubicle ever made. Joe leaves his dead-end job and travels around the globe meeting interesting people and eventually falling for the woman of his dreams. This film was one of the original inspirations for cube abandoning travel.

Cube Abandoning film | ATC


Best Female Aviator: Beryl Markham

Beryl Markham was a British-born Kenyan aviatrix. She was the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west while Amelia Earhart achieved the feat from west to east. She was an explorer and avid race horse trainer. Her tell-all saga, West with the Night, was hailed by Hemingway as “a bloody wonderful book.”

Beryl Markham | ATC

Books by Beryl Markham:


Best Modern British Explorer: Ranulph Fiennes

Ranulph Fiennes is a British explorer and adventurer who has led expeditions around the world in search of a thrill. He holds several endurance records, including the first man to visit the north and south poles. He also competed in seven marathons in seven days on seven continents.

Ranulph Fiennes | ATC

Books by Ranulph Fiennes:


Best Mountain Explorer: Ed Viesturs

Ed Viesturs is one of the world’s premiere high altitude mountaineers. He has climbed all 14 of the world’s highest mountains in only 16 years, including Everest, and has scaled many of America’s most difficult mountains. He is a writer, motivational speaker and idealist, in addition to his amazing climbing skills. Having found a way to do his passion full-time, Ed wins a spot on our list of amazing Cube Abandoners.

Viesturs | ATC

Books by Ed Viesturs:


Best Television Cube Abandoning Traveler: John Locke

John Locke is a fictional character in the TV show LOST. Locke is a miserable, lonely office drone who dreams of going on adventure. When his plane crashes on a mysterious island, Locke remakes himself into an outdoor adventurer, something he could hardly have done if not for the change in circumstances brought on by the plane crash. Locke makes this list because his transformation from pathetic office wimp to someone who never wants to return to the office again is so extreme and complete. Way to go, John!

John Locke | ATC


Best Animal-Friendly Explorer: Susan Butcher

Susan Butcher was an American dog musher. Disgusted with life in the city and held back by her dyslexia, Susan escaped to Alaska where she became famous as the second woman to win the Iditarod, and the first to win four out of five sequential years. In Alaska they still celebrate Susan Butcher Day.

Susan Butcher | ATC


Best Chinese Explorer: Zheng He

Zheng He is credited with exploring much of the oceans around China and venturing as far as India, the modern Middle East and Africa. Some say he made it to the Americas, but that is in debate and seems unlikely, according to most historians. Zheng He makes our list because he not only did so as a eunuch, but because he traveled for the most modern country at the time (Ming dynasty, China) with elegance, style and the true adventuring spirit.

Zheng He | ATC

Books about Zheng He: 1421:


Best Adventure Duo: Rob Guantlett and James Hooper

Rob Gauntlett and James Hooper accomplished something that had never been done in the travel world before. They went by human power only from the magnetic north to the South Pole by land and sea, a feat that earned them the title of “Adventurer of the Year” by National Geographic. Sadly, Gauntlett is no longer alive, having passed away while on expedition in 2009.

James Hooper | ATC


Most Famous Explorer: Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh is a true cube abandoner, though his fame cost him his life by execution. He traveled to the New World several times, and was so interested in adventure that he sought to lead others towards abandoning their persecuted or impoverished lives in Europe and relocate permanently to an unknown and mysterious world. His perseverance and ability to inspire others lands him on our list.

Sir Walter Religh | ATC


Top American Aviation Adventurer: Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart was an American aviation pioneer and author famous for becoming the first to fly solo across the Atlantic, west to east. She wrote many books about aviation and encouraged women to undertake more. She went missing in 1937 during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

Amelia Earhart | ATC

Books by Amelia Earhart:


Most Envious Contemporary Explorer: Mike Horn

Mike Horn has been an avid adventurer his entire life. He left his boyhood home of South Africa to travel in Europe, and eventually made his way around the world traveling along the equator, a project he called Latitude Zero, a feat he achieved entirely without the aid of motors of any kind, only human powered transport. This makes Mike an adventurer nearly unparalleled in today’s adventure arena.

Mike Horn | ATC

Books by Mike Horn:


Best Aquatic Explorer: Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan was an avid dreamer. He dreamed of discovering a straight that would make it possible for sailors to circumnavigate the globe. This was achieved, but Magellan did not live to see it, instead he was killed in a battle in the Philippines with locals who did not approve of his missionary work in the region. While we’re not crazy about his insane antics, dissertation of his homeland, or often harsh treatment of his crew, we do think Magellan’s dream of circumnavigating the globe is so fascinating, and, in a time when people still believed in sea monsters and the possibility of sailing right off the edge, we think his bravery is worthy of note.

Magellan | ATC

Books about Magellan:


Best Immersion Explorer: Benedict Allen

Benedict Allen is a British explorer and adventurer who made his fame by traveling not with a GPS or guide books, but by training with indigenous people around the globe. He has written ten books and appeared on BBC programs several times. His warm heart, sense of sincere exploration and discovery (of himself as well as getting to know real people) makes him an amazing example of a great cube abandoner.

Benedict Allen | ATC

Booke by Benedict Allen:


Most Underrated Explorer: Nelly Bly

Nelly Bly was famous for her stunts in the journalism world. She set the standard for going undercover to get the story. She proposed that someone could beat the fictional character in Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, so she completed the trip in 72.

Nelly Bly | ATC

Books by Nelly Bly:


Most Famous Mountaineers: Sir Edmund Hillary

Sir Edmund Hillary is a well-known name in any adventuring or mountaineering circles. This New Zealander was the first westerner to summit Everest.  Though many have done the same feat since, Hillary was considered a pioneer in mountaineering. Equipment and training were not as developed as they are today, and Hillary’s assent was so well orchestrated that it lands him on our list of avid cube abandoners who follow their dreams, no matter where they take them—even to the roof of the world.

Edmund Hillary | ATC

Books by Sir Edmund Hillary:

View from the Summit: The Remarkable Memoir by the First Person to Conquer Everest


Best Travel Dreamer: John Goddard

John Goddard makes our list because he is a dreamer that abandoned his cubicle at age 15—before ever being forced to enter it! He sat down and compiled a list of 127 things to achieve, of which he has done 109. Some examples include: climbing Mt. Fuji, exploring Nigeria, Exploring the underwater worlds of the Red Sea, visiting the Taj Mahal, swimming in the world’s famous rivers, becoming an Eagle Scout, jumping from a plane, and many, many more. He is the real author of a noble ‘bucket list’ and deserves to be on the top of our cube abandoning list for his lifelong dedication to adventure and self actualization.

John Goddard | ATC

Books by John Goddard:


Top Educational Cube Abandoner: Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall makes our list as a woman truly dedicated to living outside the office. At an early age she knew she wanted to live in Africa in the wild, learn and write about animals, and be a companion to Tarzan. She achieved renowned in the first two of these endeavors, and runs a foundation to help protect animals. Meanwhile, she has achieved her cube abandoning dream, and continues to research from the wilderness.

Jane Goodall | ATC

Books by Jane Goodall:


Top Arctic Explorer: Ernest Shackleton

Ernest Shackleton makes the list, despite not being the first to do anything truly spectacular. He was a dreamer who always wanted to be a discoverer of new world, and was a prime member of Scott’s Antarctic exploration team that ended in failure. Shackleton returned to the Antarctic and his ship, Endurance, was crushed. He escaped with his crew with no lives lost, and returned to do lectures on his explorations, a task he hated and lauded as boring office work. He went out adventuring again until he ultimately died while on expedition happily outside a cubicle.

shakelton | ATC

Books by Ernest Shackleton:


Top Circumnavigation Traveler: Jason Lewis

Jason Lewis launched one of the most impressive around-the-world trips we have ever heard of called Expedition 360. Jason circumnavigated the world by human power only, meaning no engines of any sort. He uses this adventure to teach children around the world as well as raise money for charity. Jason, if you ever need travel partners, count ATC in!

Jason Lewis | ATC

Books by Jason Lewis:


Top Military Explorer: James Cook

Captain James Cook was a British officer who launched several noteworthy expeditions including the first western discovery of Australia and circumnavigation of New Zealand. He mapped Newfoundland and made contact with Hawaii. He navigated and mapped several new areas, thus making the world smaller and more accessible, but ultimately resulting in his death in a battle with the Hawaiians dwelling in the land he was attempting to map.

James Cook | ATC

Books by Cpt. James Cook:


Best Political-savvy Explorer: Gertrude Bell

Gertrude Bell was a famous English writer and traveler who became an adviser to T.E Lawrence and the government due to her extensive knowledge of the Middle East and Asia. She makes our list as one of the most highly respected travelers and historians, who abandoned her cubicle in favor of living in a tent, writing about far off places and digging in the sand for artifacts. She is a true cube abandoner and adventurer.

Gertrude Bell | ATC

Books by Gertrude Bell:


Most Prolific TV Traveler: Bear Grylls

Bear Grylls is an adventurer and survival expert who has spent years learning the skills needed to survive long durations outdoors in some of the world’s most harsh climates. He currently does a show called ‘Man vs. Wild’ for the Discovery channel, and is the chief scout for the scouting association.

Bear Grylls | ATC

Books by Bear Grylls: The Kid who Climbed Everest. Mission Survival. Facing the Frozen Ocean.