Unfortunately, we’re not all hoarding solid 24-carat gold bricks in our basement. Well, maybe you are. And that’s great for you, but the majority of us can’t hop on a plane every other weekend to see cool shit. Sometimes even going outside seems unnecessarily arduous. Maybe you stayed up too late at poker night or caught a bug courtesy of a blustery camping trip. Sometimes remote adventures just aren’t in the cards.
Cue micro-adventures, a term coined by Alastair Humphreys (check out his blog, here). Humphreys believes that people shouldn’t feel encumbered by their 9-5 life. Instead, they should feel empowered by their 5-9 life. In other words, take the time you have and make the most of it. After 5 pm, you have all those hours to yourself, why not make them count? Not all of us can quit our jobs to go live in a van. And most aren’t paid to jet-set to distant countries.
Much like a micro-pig is just an adorably tiny version of its potbellied relative, a microadventure is a small-scale endeavor for adventure toe-dippers. Microadventures offer lessons in exploration, affordability and simplicity without the need to ski the Alps or dwell in a Guatemalan treehouse. Microadventures offer accessibility. Check out some ideas for your next microadventure!
Packing Pro Challenge
I’m constantly overpacking for backpacking, camping trips, weekend getaways–even one-night sleepovers. Three paperbacks? Check. A full-size cantaloupe? Check. Underwear? Damnit. I’m a chronic overpacker, but always forget the essentials. Lately, I’ve kept different backpacks and duffel bags for different activities. This way, I leave travel-sized toiletries, a pair of underwear and some other essentials (read: snacks) that I always forget in each. This way I simultaneously avoid overpacking and forgetting! Hey Alex, this sounds terribly un-fun! Okay, Cranky Carl, bear with me.
Paint Your Favorite Outdoor Photo
The rain and wind are thrashing fiercely against your window, and you’d honestly rather opt for black-market cornea surgery than an outdoor exploit. Bring the outside in with some art. Keep markers, crayons, colored pencils, a canvas, watercolor paper and paint on hand for a rainy–or just lazy–day. Grab your favorite print and start transforming it into a work of art. I love giving works of art as gifts (when they don’t suck a**), so you may even save money on birthday and holiday presents!
“Art is the only way to escape without leaving home.”
Tie Some Flies
I recently took a free fly-tying class with Rocky Mountain Anglers (thanks guys!) and fell in love with the tangible tranquility of it. While tying string and feathers around a hook may sound oddly strange as a peaceful venture to some, the simple act of slowly and pointedly designing something so small, while adding in your own artistic flare really gets the brain juices flowing. Not to mention I finally found a pastime where my unnaturally small fingers excel! Once you’ve got a few flies made, you have an excuse for renting some fly fishing gear and testing your homemade bait on a fishing adventure.
Take a Walk
I find that mundane walks can transform into bold adventures with the right mindset. Get a group of friends or family together and take a jaunt through your urban neighborhood, rural setting or mountain backyard. Bring a camera and pose for memorable photo ops along the way. Collect stones along wooded paths or explore your city during a full moon.
Watch Your Favorite Adventure Flick
We all have those snowboarding, kayaking, skiing, climbing, mountaineering, wildlife films that get us hot and bothered. Host your own adventure flick night, complete with snacks and maybe a libation or two. Invite your favorite outdoor-loving pals over and maybe you’ll even concoct some hair-brained expedition ideas of your own.
Try Something New
Getting out of your comfort zone is an adventure all its own—and with which one many adults struggle. Pick a special day, maybe the summer solstice or spring equinox so it’s on your calendar, and try something you’ve been putting off. Whether it’s a book club, cooking class, photography workshop, dance lessons, local faculty talk, town hall or just a new recipe, give yourself the benefit of the doubt and try it! You’ll never know what you’ll find.
Back Road Bliss
Probably my favorite thing to do when I can’t drive to my favorite hikes or backpacking routes is to gas up the car and head out on the back roads. I’m fortunate enough to live somewhere where a drive into the mountains takes less than 20 minutes, but your back roads can be anywhere or anything. Maybe you’re a beach lover and the coastal highways in California are your favorite place to escape. You might love the rural dusty drives of Kansas, with its draped green hills and persistent threat of tornadoes. I love dirt-road drives in any weather. Snow, rain, sunshine, wind, dark skies, cool spring breezes. There’s something freeing about chasing nothing.
Spending the night beneath the stars is truly an energizing activity. Pinpricks of gas through a velvety sky as you curl up on the ground, an air mattress or the bed of an old pickup truck is one of the last free beauties on earth. Lay directly on the ground. Feel the electricity of the earth coursing through your fingers, rooted deeply in nature. Even if it’s gathering the family for a backyard sleepover, spending the night outside can be an unforgettable event.
Plan Your Next Adventure
We chronic outdoorspeople and travel fanatics are constantly planning our next voyage. We’re siphoning off side-road stops and contacting the closest Airbnb teepee rental. Circling an off-the-beaten-path stopover in your guidebook makes a far-off trip seem concrete. If you can’t make it on a grand adventure every day, why not carve out the details of the next one you’ve got planned, because we both know very well you have one planned.
Microadventures come in any shape. You don’t need to book an international flight to start appreciating journeys in your own backyard. It’s as easy as deciding to make the most of your 5-9. Because, why not?