Phoebe Smith is an adventurer, presenter, broadcaster, author, photographer, speaker and podcast host.
By day she is award-winning travel writer, broadcaster and presenter, host of the Wander Woman Podcast and Sleep Storyteller-in-Residence at Calm.com. By night she’s an extreme sleeping outdoors adventurer who thrives on heading to the wildest locations she can find to sleep in the strangest places she can seek out.
She was the first person to sleep at all the extreme points of mainland Britain – including the centremost point – which she did solo, on consecutive nights in 2014. In December 2017 she gave up her Christmas to complete the self-devised Sleep the Three Peaks challenge – in which she overnighted on the summits of the highest mountains in Wales, England and Scotland - successfully raising over £8,000 and awareness for Centrepoint (the young people's homeless charity) ending on Christmas morning on the summit of Ben Nevis. In 2018 she gave up Christmas again to walk the Hadrian Hundred for Homeless dressed as Wander Woman raising £16k in the process. To date she has raised over £42k for the charity.
In 2018 she formed Team #WeTwo with her teammate Dwayne Fields and launched the #WeTwo Foundation with the aim to use responsible adventuring as a force for good. In February 2022, they will be taking a group of underprivileged young people to the White Continent by hybrid expedition ship - you can nominate someone to take part in the journey here. Before the young people go they will 'pay it forward' - not with cash but by committing to take part in initiatives close to home to improve their local area. This will include rewilding projects, removing plastics from saplings, helping clean rivers, beaches and green spaces, they will also share with others (through talks and social media) the incredible nature and environment that's on their doorstep, becoming local ambassadors for the environment.
She is also the author of 10 books including the bestselling Extreme Sleeps: Adventures of a Wild Camper,Wilderness Weekends: Wild Adventures in Britain's Rugged Corners, The Wilderness Cookbook and the Travel Writer’s Field Guide.
Phoebe has proudly been an Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion since 2016 in recognition of her work encouraging everyone to enjoy the great outdoors. She is also ambassador for the annual Big Canopy Campout (which helps raise funds for the World Land Trust), as well as Wild Night Out - the UK's national night of adventure. Since 2017 she has been a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS).
It’s her on-going mission to prove that the UK offers adventure to rival anything you’ll find overseas and that you don’t need to be a beard-sporting, rufty-tufty, I’ll-eat-a-dead-sheep-carcass Bear Grylls type to be an adventurer!
The full story
Phoebe grew up on the edge of Snowdonia National Park, in North Wales, but as is typical – never really appreciated having the mountains on her doorstep until years later when she found herself on the other side of the world. A friend persuaded her to go swag camping in the middle of the Australian outback and, despite fearing that everything could kill her (snakes, scorpions, even ants), she agreed. It was the night that changed her life. From that moment on she was determined to find adventure – with a wild camp thrown in for good measure – wherever she found herself.
After travelling around the world for two years, working at city newspapers and magazines in Toronto (Canada) and Sydney (Australia), as well trying a few other more colourful occupations (fairground ride operator in Seattle, dog sitter in California and interpretive naturalist in the Aquarium of the Bay on San Francisco’s Pier 39) she found herself back home in the UK longing for the same kind of exciting escapades she enjoyed all around the globe.
And so, whilst working full-time on a Welsh newspaper as Chief Reporter and Supplement Editor, then later as Features Editor at Trail magazine, she went out walking in all the free time she got. The walks got longer until she was inspired to try a solo wild camp.
Everything on that first one went wrong. She got sunburnt, eaten alive by midges, chased by sheep (yes, really) and ran out of water – but on surviving the night she was an instant addict.
Since then she has been an advocate for being a tourist in your own backyard. Actively encouraging others to take the same, push-yourself-out-of-your-comfort-zone mentality we all get when we travel and apply it to our everyday lives and locations. This has resulted in many years of home-grown adventures, from canoe camping on the Thames’ islands to going bothy-to-bothy in the Scottish Highlands, cave sleeping in Cumbria, seeking out Big Cats in Dartmoor, following in the footsteps of witches in Lancashire, building driftwood dens in Devon, avoiding duergar in Northumberland, conquering the Welsh Matterhorn – and much more.
In trying to promote the joys of wild nights out, adventure and getting outside she has worked with a range of clients from the BBC to ITV, Channel 5, Radio 4, The Guardian, Ordnance Survey, Duke of Edinburgh Awards, Rolls Royce, Lowe Alpine and Berghaus.
Phoebe has – so far – written 10 books and contributed to four others. She is also a keen iPhone filmmaker and her 2015 movie A Walk in the Woods: In the Footsteps of Bryson on the Appalachian Trail was shortlisted as Best Travel Broadcast 2016 at the Travel Media Awards and selected to be shown at the Dahlonega Trail Festival in Georgia, USA. She also regularly files reports for BBC Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent for which she won an award in 2018.
Phoebe’s book Extreme Sleeps reached number 2 on the Guardian Bestseller list in 2013 and both Wilderness Weekends and Book of the Bothy have been shortlisted for several awards in both 2015 and 2016 and been reprinted multiple times.
For five and a half years she was award-winning Editor of Wanderlust Travel Magazine. Then, in 2018, she went freelance to pursue her extreme sleeping adventures, write more books as well as travel articles for newspapers and magazines and pursue a number of broadcast and TV projects. She where she writes a regularly, monthly, Wander Woman column about her life on the road and in 2019 launched her own show: The Wander Woman Podcast.
A passionate writer, Phoebe is also Sleep Storyteller-in-Residence at Calm.com (the mindful app, named one of Apple's Top 7 Apps of 2017), writing bedtime stories for grown ups. Her stories have been narrated by Stephen Fry, Joanna Lumley, Jerome Flynn, Bindi Irwin and Danai Gurira to name a few. As of 2018 she also writes a monthly blog for Calm telling the story behind the sleep.
Her areas of expertise are adventure travel, solo travel, walking, camping, wilderness and wildlife conservation. In the past few years she’s slept at Everest Base Camp in Nepal, met sea gypsies in Burma (Myanmar), gone swimming in Antarctica, photographed wild puma in Patagonia, slept inside a glacier above the Arctic Circle, dog sled beneath the northern lights in Norway, crossed Siberia by train, swum with humpback whales in Australia, hiked to the top of Mount Fuji and come face-to-face with grizzly bears in Alaska.
She regularly writes for a range of newspapers, magazines and websites, both in the UK and overseas including: The Telegraph, The Times (of London), The Guardian, Suitcase, Sidetracked, Rough Guides and Countryfile magazine.