Every time I log into Netflix I make a horrible mistake.
No, it's not binge-watching the latest TV show only to emerge from my home one week later, pale-faced, unshorn, and dishevelled. The mistake I make is navigating to the travel documentary section. My issue isn't confined to Netflix, my Instagram and Twitter feeds are flooded with travel photographers, adventurers, and sponsered athletes. I watch as people who are paid to do the activities I love frolic around the world while I sit in my onesie crying into my home made trail mix (maybe I'm exaggerating).
In all seriousness, a lot of us suffer from a sense that we are not getting the most out of life. We dream of travel and large scale adventures to remote locations and cultures. This 'travel bug' is intensified by beautiful vistas and beach scenes inundating us on social media and in movies. We often don't see that the number of people who live 'the lifestyle' are few. We also underestimate the amount of work it takes to maintain that way of life and to even attain it in the first place.
People who know me know about my sense of adventure, and that my activity, exercise, and time in the gym all revolve around my need to disappear into the backcountry and push my body to sometimes painful extremes. However, work, family, finances, and day to day routine get in the way of these pursuits. The amount of time daydreaming about these activities outweighs how much time is spent performing them. So what is an adventure driven person to do?
Enter the microadventure. The microadventure is a term popularized by Alastair Humphreys. The microadventure challenges the notion that adventure and travel need to be an all or nothing experience. The idea is encapsulated in the expression
"We are defined by the 9 to 5, but what about the 5 to 9"
We have constructed a life dominated by monotonous routine in which we live for our 3 weeks of vacation a year. Often that vacation is so hyped up and we spend so much time preparing for it that it doesn't live up to expectations.
The microadventure challenges us to explore the notion of adventure and travel on a small scale. This can be as simple as exploring a local forest. Maybe it's bringing a camera and exploring a new neighborhood in your city. Maybe it's as big as a Sunday 3am wakeup to drive 4 hours away for a day of exploration. It's amazing how thrilling new perspective can be even on a small scale.
Maybe you've always wanted to try a new activity, most outdoor stores offer cheap rentals. Canoe down a local river, learn to cross country ski or snowshoe. Will it be as magnificent as a surfing the waves in hawaii with diamondhead in the background? No. Will it allow you to appreciate the little things that surround you on a daily basis and help you spend more time in the present? Absolutely.
Here are some more ideas for beginner microadventuring and some great microadventure resources.
1) Go to a local museum and learn about the history of the region. Then go out and explore/photograph the birth of your city/province
2) Pick an activity you have always been too scared or busy to try, then go do it.
3) Take your local transit to the end of the line, explore the food, coffee, and sights of the new neighborhood.
4) Pick an exotic, multistep recipe you have never tried before. Even if it flops you will gain from the flavors, smells, and cooking process.
5) Keep a notebook and record your daydreams, then practice distilling them into meaningful and realistic microadventures.