Embracing Microadventures: Tips and Ideas for Getting Started

Even for the most dedicated weekend warrior, planning a trip can feel daunting. After being stuffed into an office environment all day, often the last thing you want to do is pack and plan for a big adventure. But it doesn’t have to be that way. As you set your sights on the new year, it’s the perfect time to consider weekly microadventures. Microadventures, as coined by the prolific adventurer Alastair Humphreys, are a short and simple ways to weave more adventure into your everyday life. Because they require minimal time, money or planning, they return high rewards, including the improved mental and physical health that comes with being outdoors more often.

So, without further ado, here are some quick tips on how to have a successful microadventure, as well as some starter ideas to get you out the door.

Microadventure Guidelines:

Keep it simple

The beauty of microadventures is they don’t require specialized equipment or much in the way of planning. Try to keep logistics and packing to under an hour.

Think 5-9

Microadventures can happen anytime, any place, which means thinking outside of the usual weekend box; if you’re the typical 9-5’er you get 16 hours outside of work to experience something new. This could even mean camping overnight and coming into the office fresh off a mountaintop.

Build your crew

Like most adventures, micro missions are much more enjoyable as a shared experience—and they’re more likely to happen when others are also committed to the cause. It may go without saying, but remember to bring friends who are adaptable and like new experiences.

Put it on the calendar

Harness the power of inertia by getting those microadventures squarely into your everyday schedule. This will lock you in and block that time off your calendar so that you don’t accidentally double-book yourself—safely protecting your newly enhanced adventure routine.

Keep a list

Put a working list of microadventure ideas somewhere convenient so that you stay continuously inspired and can easily bring them to life.

Have a go-pack

Keeping a dedicated microadventure pack at the ready can make heading out the door that much easier. Depending on the season and climate, your pack may vary, but it’s good to keep these essentials accessible:

  1. Sleeping Bag
  2. Sleeping Pad
  3. Seasonal Shelter
  4. Warm/Dry clothes – Think in layers, moving from close-fitting base layers to looser outer layers such as fleece, down, and waterproof GORE-TEX.
  5. Warm Hat – Useful in every season.
  6. Extra Socks – Because you never know.
  7. Water Bottle
  8. Snacks
  9. Headlamp – Be sure to keep extra batteries handy as well.
  10. Toiletries – Bring only essentials such as a toothbrush, toothpaste and toilet paper.

Microadventure Ideas:

Chase the dawn

While your co-workers are still tucked safely in their beds, you’ll be enjoying the sunrise from the nearest mountaintop, ocean shore or forest clearing, making the most of those valuable morning hours (when the light is unlike any other). Don’t forget to take pictures of those early scenes before you head to work so you can make the officemates envious.

Polar plunge

This microadventure can be especially invigorating as a post-work challenge. Nothing ejects the day from your mind faster than the adrenaline rush of icy water. Gather your crew, meet at a local beach or body of water and jump on in. This mission makes a great start to a night of warming up over hot drinks, perhaps around the campfire…

Embrace the darkness

When was the last time you studied the stars? Go for a hike to an open vista, or find a local park with a large open space and pack a blanket so you can lean back and explore the constellations. Or, up the ante by researching the next meteor shower and embarking on a quick overnighter in the local hills to witness the show in full force.

The slow road

Taking the long way home can be an exciting adventure unto itself. Pack your running shoes or bring your bike to work so you can head home via human power. By taking the most amount of dirt or gravel side roads possible, you’ve added a dose of exploration into your commute. You just might be surprised by what you discover when you travel at a slower pace.

Practice your camp stove game

Whether during a lunch break or a weekend morning, grab your camp stove and head outside to perfect your backcountry cuisine. This cooking adventure gets you outdoors and lets you experiment with ingredients, setting you up as a master chef when the big trips come calling.

Turn happy hour into adventure hour

Touring skis? Mountain bike? Snowshoes? Rather than convening at the local pub, grab your preferred mode of travel and rendezvous at the trailhead. As the seasons change, these happy hour adventures take on ever-new character, from headlamp-lit journeys to sunset endeavors. Of course, bring beer to cheers at the end.

Point A to point B

Grab a map and point to two random spots. This microadventure is about finding your way between the two of them in any way you choose. You could make this into a race with friends, or decide on a more leisurely exploration pace. Either way, the adventure is out there—just waiting for you.