I’ve received a few questions in the past few months from people asking how I do so much each month. It usually starts with “I wish I could do that, but…”, “I’d love to hike, but…”, you get the idea. You see, people love the idea of getting out and making the most of their lives until it comes time to actually doing something. I think the big problem is people get overwhelmed and feel anxious by the prisons they create for themselves. So many people I know bog their lives down with all sorts of unnecessary mental chores. They waste insane amounts of time in front of their phone, computer, or television, and make chronic procrastination a deadly habit. I work a M-F, 8-5 job like most, and I think that optimizing the weekend is the key to maintaining balance in life and maximizing happiness. I choose to do so through outdoor activities, but the options are endless.
Alistair Humphreys is an adventurer, blogger, author and motivational speaker, and is the person many credit for coining and popularizing the Microadventure. If you follow some of the outdoor blogs online, you’ll have seen articles about microadventures on National Geographic, New York Times, Outside Online, and countless other places. My favorite description is from Outside Online where they describe a microadventure as “quick outings that offer something different, something exciting—but cheap, simple, short, and on your doorstep. Spontaneous weeknight campouts with friends. Running your ten-mile commute instead of getting in the car. A full-moon hike on your favorite trail.” As you can see, anything can be a microadventure, and it doesn’t require long distance travel, expensive accommodations, or copious amounts of planning. You just need to get out and do something! I try to plan one microadventure for each weekend. It’s usually a hike or camping trip, but I also love going to museums, running, playing fetch with my dogs, and just about anything else that sounds fun at the time. Below, you will find my 5 reasons for why I think microadventures will change your life, just as they’ve changed mine!
1.) Microadventures Make Every Weekend Feel Like A Vacation
My favorite thing about microadventures is the way they always feel like a long vacation. It’s amazing how a weekend trip to a new place can feel like a week away from home. My most notable weekend trips this year were a three day weekend on Catalina Island and a standard weekend of camping and hiking on the Central Coast. Neither trip required I take vacation time or miss any work, both were within driving distance, and neither trip cost very much money. If you feel you’re in need of a vacation, but don’t have the time, plan a weekend microadventure!
2.) Microadventures Help You Explore and Experience Your Surroundings
Having been born and raised in California, I wasn’t aware of how little I actually knew about the state until I started taking microadventures each weekend. In one month, I can visit the desert, the mountains, and the beach. Most importantly, I have endless access to mountains and trails without having to drive more than an hour. Before I started hiking in 2010, I had no clue these trails even existed. I just thought the mountains made for a nice backdrop for the cities below. The same goes for museums, ghost towns, art galleries, and dog parks. I can’t even count the number of times I would sit back and think “what is there to do?”. Once I turned that mindset into “I’m going to find something to do”, the entire area opened up into a land of possibility. If you often find yourself bored on the weekends, try something new by getting out to explore your surroundings!
3.) Microadventures Encourage You To Spend Time With Loved Ones
It’s a common complaint I hear from friends that they don’t get to spend enough quality time with their loved ones. It’s a difficult situation. As adults, we work all week, and when we’re not at work we’re competing with social media, television, sleep, and other individual pursuits for quality time. Microadventures are great for creating a beautiful environment conducive to long conversations and quality time with the ones we love. Whether you’re discussing art at a gallery, critiquing your meals at a food truck, or enjoying the silence of a remote campsite, you’re going to be enjoying the company of your travel companions without the distractions you find at home. If you’re feeling stretched for time, and would like to interact more with your friends and family, give them a call and start planning a microadventure!
4.) Microadventures Make You Feel Like A Regular Traveler Without the Expense
I’ve been very fortunate to do a lot of travelling in my life thus far. The experiences and stories I’ve accumulated throughout my travels have made me a richer person. I learned very early that it was experiences and not possessions that gave me the most satisfaction in life. To this day, I love meeting fellow travelers and hearing their stories. It’s sad to say, but people who go nowhere and do nothing outside of their daily grind tend to come off a bit dull and lacking in curiosity. A joking line I’ve heard a few times is that there are few crimes greater than being boring! The problem is that travel can be expensive, and many are lacking in the spare time or disposable income to take an international trip. Luckily, that’s not necessary. With microadventures, anyone can have great experiences and accumulate all kinds of adventure stories. When I think of all of my most memorable travel experiences, quite a few have occurred right here in California.
5.) Microadventures Help You Develop, Fine Tune, And Master New and Old Hobbies
One of my favorite aspects of my microadventures is the opportunity to take photographs. So often I’ll meet people who do a ton of research, buy a great camera and lens, go on vacation, and then never use the camera again. Just like running, hiking, coding, painting, or cooking, photography takes a lot of practice. Photography is also something I really enjoy. I’ve never taken a class or lesson, but educating myself has been something that keeps me busy. I’ve also developed a lot of unique skills while hiking, lightweight backpacking, tracking weather, hiking with dogs, outdoor cooking, and many other weekend activities. Every time I plan a microadventure, I find more things I want to learn. I ask myself things like “why can’t I name any of the flora in an area?”. When I return home, the gears in my head start moving as I want to learn more, and more microadventures come into play. If you’re a curious person who likes to learn, make sure to start planning microadventures, as they’ll open you’re mind up to learning things you never thought possible.
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65 thoughts on “5 Ways Microadventures Will Change Your Life”
Good post and good points. Spread the adventure.
Yes! This. A thousand times this. Well said. I may not live in a state with quite the variation or natural beauty that you do, but even near Chicago there are wonderful places to go within 1 to 3 hours. It’s a matter of looking, and being creative (and not expecting to find mountains).
That’s exactly it! It doesn’t matter where you live, it’s about taking advantage of what you have. There is so much to do when we’re willing to look.
I never realised it, but I do a LOT of microadventures living in Spain. Never had a term before it. But a lot of Spanish writers have mentioned how people should first explore their own backyard before exploring the world. I agree with your post!
That’s awesome! The concept of “dig deep, not wide” is a very good one. Especially in Spain!
Hi Drew – I just wanted to tell you how much I love your blog. I’ve been following for awhile and it’s such an inspiration. I live in San Diego and am planning on a lot of hiking trips with my boys during the summer. I love the “microadventure” idea with all of the wonderful areas we have in our own backyard. We have our camelbaks and hiking shoes ready and I can’t wait. Keep up the good work! Thank you!
Thanks for reading and I appreciate your following of my blog! I’m glad to hear you’ll be heading out on some microadventures with your boys!
Excellent article. After returning to the US from a year in Cambodia, I made a promise to myself to continue my traveler aka adventure life stlye. I did have a term for it either but this is exactly what I was envisioning and doing. Loved this article. May I repost it on my blog?
Hi Caitlin, thanks for reading. It’s always important to carry the momentum of your travels when returning home! I’d love it if you reposted. Thanks!
What a wonderful concept. I think I might have to start incorporating microadventures into my weekends too. Thanks for sharing 🙂 | http://www.apocketfulofsunshineblog.com
Thanks for reading!
This is excellent. It’s so true how we get an idea and then create “prisons” for ourselves as to why we can’t do it this weekend or next weekend… great article. I just planned out about 10 micro adventures during the summer for my husband and I. Can’t wait!
Wiley, that’s great to hear! Summer is always an exciting time for microadventures! Have fun!
Wonderful post! Inspiring! Xx
Thank you, Heidi!
I did not know I had microadventures all my life. I thought it was normal to leave work behind on the weekend and get out and play…
Great article, thank you.
You’ve been living the good life! That’s great to hear!
I’m inspired!! Already planning now….
That’s great to hear, Bonnie!
Well spoken, thank you for your conviction and dedication to living an outdoors life.
Thank you very much!
this is what our girls hiking group is all about… once a month hiking in the hills, away from our children and husbands! ;-P
That’s awesome! So great to hear you’re taking that time each month!
I love this! I was actually going to cancel a camping trip this weekend but after reading your post I’m definitely going to go ahead with it 🙂
Hey! That’s great to hear! I’m glad this post inspired you 🙂
That’s such a good idea! Sometimes I definitely forget about the closer to home adventures.
It can be tough. Sometimes I find myself looking outward when I think of excitement and exploration. Focusing on my home state has opened up so many doors to incredible adventures!
Great blog! It is amazing how little of our own state that most of us visit. So many amazing places to see if you explore with a curious mind! Many of my microadventures have turned into bigger adventures by happy accidents:) Keep exploring! Looking forward to my microadventure this weekend! Roar!
Thanks! One of my favorite parts of microadventures is how they open up the world and turn into bigger adventures! Have fun this weekend!
I wholeheartedly agree with you, Drew. Living in a city like London it’s hard to do microadventures such as yours (I don’t own a car, it takes ages to go anywhere on public transportation) but I try and do things like that using planes or trains. It’s absolutely great, cheap-ish (£100 or so for the air tickets and zilch for hotels) and even though I might not do it every weekend it’s still a great way to spend my time… and, who knows, perhaps sooner or later I’ll be able to move back to somewhere with mountains again!
Thanks for the message, Fabrizio! I’m sure it’s a real challenge to get our for microadventures in the sprawl of a big city like London! It’s great to hear that you’re still able to get out and find away! It’s definitely much easier when you can take short drives to mountains every weekend.
I envy you. It took me over 60 years to learn a lesson that you have already learned. Now that I am retired, I have the time to do what I thought I didn’t have time for because of my day job. I enjoy reading your hiking adventures and look forward to more.
I’ve been fortunate! It’s great to hear you’ve found the time to do the things you enjoy, even if it took 60 years. Many live, and never find it at all!
Oooooh! I like the term Microadventure! We enjoy those on our weekends too! Some are smaller than others but we try and get out and explore every weekend! Nice reminder to all of us how fun a weekend can be!
Weekends are the best time to take advantage of microadventures. Sometimes the smallest ones are the best!
I loved this post, and the idea of the micro adventure, I talk a lot about adventures and exploring when hiking, and this fits the bill perfectly 🙂
This resinates SO much with me, especially your opening– I’m living in Spain, so my current adventures for the time being are a bit more on the macro side, but so many people envy adventures, but then spend their weekends watching netflix! You’ve made so many great points on getting out and exploring. It’ll be a tough adjustment to come home after living in Europe, but I hope to keep up the exciting life just in the ways you have mentioned. great post 🙂
Thanks! I’ve had similar situations after returning from Argentina and Spain. Microadventures come fast and easy while traveling, but can be a bit tougher to find once home!
This is a fantastic article. I think my favourite bit was about changing your mindset from “what is there to do” to “I’m going to find something to do.” There’s always beauty and potential adventures surrounding us. We just have to find them!
Thanks for reading!
I agree !!! I think micro adventure are essential ! 🙂
That they are!
This is very well articulated! I have been in the practice of microadventuring for a few years and this is the best resource I’ve yet found.
One big objection I get from friends is that they have too much to do in the week. Have you also found that microadventures encourage you to be wiser and more time efficient in the week?
Thanks for writing!
I completely agree with that. Planning microadventures requires diligence in preparation and doesn’t allow for wasting time.
I fully agree! I try to get all my chores and errands done during the week after work as much as possible so I have my weekends free for adventuring be it a hike, a camping trip, or just a walk on the seawall. Not having cable TV helps me achieve that because I don’t get sucked in for hours anymore!
Great post! I too struggle with this to get out more and sometimes I find excuses not to go how strange that may be. Lately I’ve tried to clear our schedule the best I can and on those free weekends plan a trip or two that’s within maximum two hours driving distance.
It can be tough sometimes, life always tries to get in the way 🙂 Microadventures help fit the fun in when lots of free time is lacking.
i love this! Microadventures has been my mantra this past year 🙂
Nice! Keep it going for 2016!
Love this! I’ve been thinking lately of starting a micro-adventure series; all of my friends think I’m so daring for traveling on the weekends, but, like you said, it’s the best way to see what’s around you without breaking the bank or disrupting your commitments. Thanks for the post!
Thanks, Nikki! People let so much of their life slip away by not taking advantage of the short moments they have to explore and adventure. Awesome to hear you’re living life to the fullest!
I can’t wait to go visit the 1500 year old Wally tree. I should start going on some microadventures…and then blog about them 🙂
Wally is a beautiful tree. I’m planning to hike back up there once a little more snow melts.
Just started following and this post caught my eye. You’ve made some solid points and certainly highlight the idea that adventure can be right outside the door (if we’ll look up from our phones long enough). I’m not a big “quoter” but this reminds me of a Robin Sharma line: “Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.”
Looking forward to following your adventures as well as making many of my own.
Thanks for following along! Great quote!
I’ve been microadventuring the past 6 months, and I agree with you 100% on this list. To microadventure is to have an adventurous state of mind towards life experiences. Completely attainable and good for the soul.
Great to hear that you’re a fellow microadventurer. I agree, it’s completely about a state of mind wand a desire to maximize the time we have on this earth. Happy adventuring!
Another great aspect is that the entry barrier is so low. There are certain activities that require special equipment, experience, money, etc. but, microadventuring can be accomplished by anyone. Adventure on!
I agree, 100%!