According to Wikipedia: “The term microadventure is defined as an overnight outdoor adventure that is ‘small and achievable, for normal people with real lives’.”
So Alastair Humphreys totally stole my life philosophy. Granted, I didn’t know this was my life philosophy until I read about it five minutes ago but regardless, this guy’s life motto is my life motto and it’s called “microadventures”. Alastair Humphreys (great adventurer name, dontchya think?) is an author and explorer who is a big fan of going on short, “micro” adventures. Taking off on spontaneous weekday road trips, hiking by moonlight, biking to work instead of driving, camping on a random Tuesday night, you know, basically, adventuring for broke people. He’s such a supporter of this idea, in fact, he wrote a book about it.
How I Came To Love Microadventures (Because I know You’re Dying to Know. :))
When I moved to Las Vegas four years ago (sheesh, has it been that long?!), I found I really missed the unpredictability of nomadic life. Although I was definitely ready to slow down (I’d been traveling nearly non-stop for 8 years) and welcomed the normalcy of a regular job, I wasn’t ready to let go of the excitement of the unknown that had been such a big part of my life throughout my 20s. Rather than pick up and move back to Central America (believe me, I thought about it), I decided to try to find a way to incorporate that feeling of wonder and excitement into my everyday life. Thus, I started an adventure group on Meetup.com. In case you’ve never heard of Meetup, here’s how the group works: A couple of weekends a month, a bunch of strangers from the internet get together to do weird and offbeat activities like journeying to car forests or sledding down sand dunes. Most of the adventures we take are within an hour or two from Vegas, but sometimes we take longer trips—a few weeks ago we rented a beach house in Southern California—and last year we visited Sedona, Arizona. The group now has nearly 1,000 members, some of whom have become more than just adventure buddies; they’ve become good friends.
Adventure Can Be Found Anywhere
Yep, even in the suburbs.
Alastair first coined the term “microadventure” after listening to friends and fans complain that they lacked the money and time to travel. Alastair was one of those extreme adventurists you read about in National Geographic (literally). His long list of accomplishments included biking around the world, journeying across India on foot and traveling across the Atlantic ocean in a row boat. Most of the people coming to hear him talk (he was a motivational speaker) would say things like “I wish I could do what you do…but it’s just not practical.” And to be fair, they weren’t just making excuses. For many people with kids, mortgages and 9-to-5 jobs, taking four years off to traverse the planet on a bicycle just isn’t feasible. Thus, the concept of microadventures was born. Alastair figured that just because people didn’t have the vacation time or funds to embark on a round-the-world trip didn’t mean they couldn’t seek out excitement on a smaller scale; closer to home. Adventure, Alastair reasoned, could be found everywhere—even in the suburbs. And it didn’t have to require special training or expensive equipment either. It could involve simpler activities; like hitchhiking home from work or taking a sleeping bag into your backyard to sleep under the stars.
Just in case you’d like to try a little microadventuring of your own…
5 Microadventures You Can Do Close to Home
Skip the pool and swim (or kayak) in the wild water instead
I’ve been kayaking several times this past summer on Lake Mead and it’s been quite the adventure! Since the lake’s water level has been decreasing in recent years, islands that used to be underwater have emerged, making for some fun places to dock and explore. The last time I went kayaking, my dog Frankie leapt off the boat to try to swim to shore (he’s afraid of the water) and nearly drowned. I had to come to his rescue and pull him out (that’s no easy task when you’re immobilized in a boat!). While Frankie probably could have done without that part of the adventure, the whole day sure beat sitting at home watching TV.
Go car camping
You don’t need a lot of equipment to camp. You don’t even need an official camping spot. Just grab a sleeping bag or blanket, a tarp and some snacks and drive out into the wilderness. Instant adventure! I did that at Bryce Canyon National Park last fall. Instead of camping at one of the official campsites in the park, we used Google Earth to find a lesser known, secluded camping spot in the forrest nearby.
Throw a dart at a map and go wherever it lands
I’ve never actually done this, but I have just gotten in my car and started driving without a plan, a map or destination. Even if you don’t end up anywhere super exciting, sometimes simply the possibility of finding something exciting is enough. A couple of years ago, when my car was in the shop and I had a rental car, I spontaneously decided to drive in the direction of the Grand Canyon. While I didn’t make it all the way to the Grand Canyon on that trip, I wound up at a creepy Flintstones theme park, which while not as cool, was out-of-the-ordinary none the less!
Do something scary
Last week I went rock climbing in nearby Red Rock Canyon. It was my first time rock climbing on an actual rock (as opposed to climbing walls at a gym), and although I was scared at first, I kept going and made it all the way to the top. It felt really good to face a fear and accomplish a goal. What’s more, it didn’t cost me anything to try it! I was lucky enough to have a friend who could provide me with all of the needed equipment.
Go for a hike somewhere new
This can be tough if you don’t live somewhere where hiking trails are readily available, but if you can’t hike up a mountain, go somewhere where you can immerse yourself in nature, like a field of flowers, a wooded area or if all else fails, your city’s botanical gardens or park. Besides the obvious benefits, studies have shown hiking can actually increase the size of your brain. And you never know when you might see something cool! While hiking and camping in the desert around Las Vegas, I’ve seen wild coyotes, horses, rabbits and donkeys. I even saw some kangaroo rats while camping in Death Valley.
For more suggestions, read: 30 Things to Do When You Can’t Travel: A List for Broke Travel Addicts
Alright, your turn. What cool microadventures have you been on lately?