Let’s clear a few things up. Adventures are cooked with ingredients such as:
- Beautiful landscapes
- The excitement of doing something new
- Being with good friends, or savoring the peace of solitude
- Exchanging smartphones, air-conditioning and rush-hour traffic for campfires and sleeping under the stars
- Epic journeys with month after month of hardship
- Years of training to accomplish an extraordinary world first
- Massive corporate sponsorship to bankroll an expedition to Antarctica
If you are like me, you probably began reading that list thinking “Yes! I agree! That’s what I love, that’s what I want!”
And then you reached the final three points and your heart sank a little. Because you don’t have months free to go on adventures. Perhaps you’re not an elite athlete or super-human tough guy or girl. And you probably don’t have a spare $1 million to mount an expedition to the South Pole.
For years, this has been the way of the adventure world. Normal people who are short of time and cash get their adventurous kicks by reading books and watching films about the tiny handful of folk who do spend their days doing phenomenally difficult adventures like climbing El Capitan or K2.
But it does not need to be that way.
I am a professional adventurer. I’ve made trips that took years (cycling 46,000 miles round the world); I’ve done stuff that’s pretty brutally hard (rowing the Atlantic); and I’ve enjoyed being part of very expensive expeditions to the Arctic.
But lately my trips have become smaller. Much smaller. I’ve been having micro-adventures. Because I realized that, while all the ingredients on my list of adventure are true, you don’t need every single one of them.
And, if you don’t have the time, money or expertise to do an enormous expedition, then it’s better to do something small than to do nothing. If you don’t live in the Rockies, then climbing your little local hill is still more fun than staying home and watching TV.
In other words, I have been trying to persuade people to look at their opportunities for adventure, rather than feeling sad about the constraints. It doesn’t matter if you only have time for a weekend adventure: micro-adventures are still exciting, fun and rewarding, just like an epic trip.
So stop feeling glum that you can’t go rafting down the Grand Canyon, and get hold of a few tubes for you and your friends. Paddle your local river and laugh more than you’ve laughed in months.
Resist daydreaming about unlikely year-long bike journeys and instead go for a bike ride with your kids and camp overnight somewhere. They’ll remember it for years.
Adventure is out there, for all of us, wherever we live, however busy, poor or unfit we may be. I’m giving you permission to go have an adventure this weekend. Not that you need permission, of course, but you might benefit from a little gentle prod. Go for it!