Rather than waiting until your decks clear for a once-in-a-lifetime epic journey, find ways to fit adventure into your life NOW.
What IS adventure, really?
Think about it. When the topic of adventure comes up, we usually picture rugged terrain, rushing rivers, endless dusty roads, and other forbidding landscapes. A nomad who has found the guts to escape the corporate grind makes his or her way across the land in a single change of well-worn Patagonia garments. Along the way this intrepid adventurer may be treated to strange local foods offered by colorfully clad natives looking on with a mixture of hospitality and mistrust.
Neat. But do you want that?
Let’s rethink adventure
What if adventure is possible without making such a grand exit from life as it is? Would you be doing it “wrong” if instead of going on an epic journey, you opted for frequent local trips? Does a journey of a thousand miles have to happen all at once, or could you take it in shorter increments?
I think it’s the mindset that worthwhile life experiences must involve a (1) radical detachment from ordinary life, (2) long-distance travel, and (3) significant investment of money and time, that keeps many of us from embracing adventure right now, and from enjoying life more.
In reality, all you need is a pair of hiking shoes or a bicycle, a handful of well-designed, compact accessories, and your own power. With this simple toolkit you can leave routine behind. and enjoy exhilaration, freedom and nature within minutes, and on a weekly basis. And you can keep your home, your relationships and your job.
What a relief to think you don’t need to save thousands of dollars and wait months for your next getaway! Instead you can start looking forward to taking your next trip literally tomorrow, or grinning at your co-workers, because you just got back from one.
Plus, such compact, local and frequent adventures give you the respite, perspective and headspace you need, making those yearnings for a grand escape quite a bit less pressing. When you’re actually living a wonderful, spirited life, you may not want to get away from it.
Here are the 10 NEW adventure rules to live by starting today:
- Think small and keep it short. Resolve to stop thinking about adventure in terms of weeks or months, and think in days or even hours. I assure you there are places within a two-hour drive from your home that will make you feel like you’ve traveled a world away. What can you fit into a weekend? Or think shorter still. Can you squeeze a brief adventure on your way to work?
- Don’t plan a vacation. Microadventures are famously done between 5pm and 9am, so you can adventure to your heart’s content without missing a beat of your “regular” life. If you happen to have a long weekend, wander a little farther afield.
- Don’t look too far. Forget spending precious time on long distance travel (or hanging around TSA lines at airports). Instead, look for nearby opportunities, and turn the getting there into part of the experience. Yes, getting out of Chicago, or any large city, by bike or on foot can be daunting, but you’re sure to be rewarded. Grab a calendar and fill a couple months’ worth of weekends with trips of less than 50 miles.
- Find your own way. Usually you will probably follow a trail others have traveled before you. But exploration and detours can likewise be part of the adventure experience. Prepare less than you think you have to, and let curiosity guide you.
- Keep your gear in one place and in good repair. If you have everything organized and ready, whenever the adventure bug bites or opportunity presents itself, you can just throw what you need in a pack, and go.
- Make bad weather your friend. Weather can dial up the adventure factor a little or a lot. What might be a breezy bike ride in September is a character-building trek in relentless April rain. Tune your brain to the right frequency, get some rain gear, bring a small tarp and a way to cook something hot. I guarantee you’ll never have a better meal.
- Go alone. For some of us, that in itself can be an adventure. Go without your partner, without your safety net, and get in tune with your own self-reliant spirit.
- Go guerrila. Head out at dusk, and set up a quickie overnight camp somewhere undesignated and unsanctioned. Plan to be gone right after sunrise, but maybe after coffee…
(If this makes you really uneasy, try a day-only version of this. Head out on your bike for the day, and get a far enough off the designated trail that you feel alone. Bring provisions to cook a meal over a camp stove, string up a hammock, and chill out for the day. Bring along a book, a journal, or your ukelele, maybe crack open a beer, have a nap, and then ride home before nightfall.)
- Be inspired but don’t be overwhelmed. While the heroic feats of others may sometimes inspire us, if the bar is set to high, we may never even attempt to reach it. View epic experiences of others with detachment, and don’t buy into the view that they are the only ways to experience adventure (or life!).
- Don’t make a vision board. Don’t plan too far ahead. Don’t wait. Go today.