Without adventure civilization is in full decay. – Alfred North Whitehead
Adventure keeps us alive and is at the core of our spirit. With our hectic lifestyles, juggling never ending commitments with work and day-to-day life, we’ve lost our sense for adventure, and it’s simply not possible to go on huge adventures all the time. Coupled with loaded excuses like not enough time or money, the prospect of embarking on an adventure quickly slips to the back of our minds.
In light of all of this commotion, I believe we need to redefine what we mean by adventure, and get rid of the romanticised notion that adventures need to be grand, long, and exhilarating to far flung lands once and for all.
I believe that the definition of adventure is subjective, and that adventures are personal journeys, come in all shapes and sizes, and can be found anywhere. In short, adventure is a state of mind, and an adventure can be anything that challenges you mentally or physically or culturally.
That’s where the concept of Microadventures comes in.
What is a microadventure?
Originally coined and popularised by British adventurer and author Alastair Humprheys, a microadventure can be defined as a short, simple and cheap adventure that is close to home.
In 2014, and after some crazy world expeditions, including a 4 year cycling trip around the world, Alastair wrote a book about microadventures and carried out a year long experiment (which actually is still going on today and has blossomed into a beautiful community) which would take him on some of his most memorable adventures right on his doorstep. Check out this link to watch some of Alastair’s videos from his microadventures.
The concept of microadventures is built on the notion that adventures can happen anytime and everywhere, making them particularly pertinent for everyday people living a 9-5 lifestyle. Although work takes up a large portion of our lives, the idea is that, we still have 16 hours of freedom each day from 5pm-9am (not to mention weekends). Instead of going home each evening and wasting our time in front of the TV or on social media, Alastair advocates that we should use this time to embark on short burst microadventures close to home (there’s no excuse to do this at least once or twice a month).
The beauty of the concept of microadventures is that it squashes most of our limiting beliefs and preconceived notions.
•Ability – You don’t need to be a professional adventurer. Anyone can go on a microadventure, anywhere.
•Cost – You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a fulfilling adventure. Microadventures are cheap, and depend on good imagination.
•Equipment – You don’t need complex and specialised gear to go on a microdventure. Often you require less than you might think; perhaps just a sleeping bag/tent, some waterproofs and food for the night.
•Location – You don’t need to fly to the other side of the world. They can be short and sweet, right in the neighbourhood you live in. Not only that but adventures closer to home give us chance to learn more about our own culture.
•Time – You don’t need a lot of time for a microadventure. Time isn’t a factor to be excused for – a microadventure can be as short as a couple of hours, to a few days.
•Planning – The best adventures are always misadventures, and you can plan a misadventure. You don’t need to plan too much for a microadventure. The beauty of a successful adventure depends on spontaneity.
•Right Now – You don’t need to wait for your summer holidays to have adventure. You can have many adventures each year by building a habit around microadventures.
•Meaningful – You don’t need to hike the Himalayas or cross the Sahara on a camel to have a meaningful adventure. No two experiences are identical, nor is one superior to the next. Any adventure can be meaningful in the eye of the adventurer, and that’s because they are personal to you.
•Fear – You don’t need to go to another place in the world to challenge yourself. Despite how caught up in routine we can become, there’s plenty of fun and exciting opportunities to escape our comfort zone right in front of our eyes. Microadventures are the perfect way to shake up that monotonous routine.
My Life & Microadventures
After 4 years of continuous travel to 45+ countries across 5 continents, I decided to take base for a much needed rest. My 4 years of travel were non-stop; I was constantly moving and it wasn’t unusual to experience some kind of novelty or adventure on a daily basis. However, after taking base and getting an apartment, novelty slowly diminished and routine subtly kicked in, leaving me craving for more adventures and the return of my nomadic lifestyle. Adventure is a big part of my life, and i don’t want to resist that. But I also knew that although I still wanted to go on expeditions, I also wanted the comfort and stability of having a place that I could call home.
I came across the concept of microadventures in 2014, and its simplicity and appeal grew on me. After reading more about the concept, I began to experiment close to home with my own microadventures, and wrote a post titled “How to travel when you’re not travelling” that explained some of the things I tried.
It’s 2018, and my base is now Bucharest, Romania, where I’m running a business with several good friends and also have an apartment here that I call home. With the Transylvanian mountains just 2 hours north and the Black Sea three hours east, Bucharest is a great place to be for quick burst microadventures. Whether it’s hitchhiking to the sea for a couple of days, or hopping on a train and going to hike in the mountains, I proactively look for ways in which I can create my own little microadventures around my daily life here in Bucharest.
Stretching the concept a little bit further, i also enjoy creating mini microadventures in Bucharest. About 3-4 times a week, I enjoy what i call “urban exploration”. Instead of running or walking predefined routes, I’ll set a target number of KMs, and use this as an opportunity to explore new corners of the city by trying my best to “get lost,” going to areas I wouldn’t normally visit.
In addition. I’ve also bought a bike early last year and have been on numerous 30-80km microadventures to beautiful places surrounding Bucharest including Mogosoaia and Lake Snagov.
Since my perception of what adventure means has shifted, I also recognise small opportunities to shake up routine too. Whether I go to visit a new café/restaurant, attend an event/workshop, start a new hobby, learn a new skill or speak to a random stranger in the street, I see all these new experiences as small microadventures and an opportunity to challenge myself.
2018 is a big year for many more Microadventures. Now that my work schedule has become more flexible, I’ll be spending more time exploring Romania – particularly hiking and camping in the mountains. I’ll also be walking my 3rd Camino in June – the Camino Del Norte, which is a 30 day, 850km trek along the coast to Santiago De Compostela – probably more like an expedition to many, but i see it as a microadventure.
Ideas for Microadventures
Now that i’ve given you an idea of how i see microadventures, here’s a quick list of 10 ideas and inspiration from what I’ve read and seen from other people who have embraced the concept of microadventures:
•Learn something new – skills, sport, dancing, writing, painting, investing, etc.
•Try something new/face your fears – e.g. public speaking, CouchSurf/AirBnB in your own city, hitchhiking.
•Watch the sunrise/sunset.
•Climb a local mountain/hill.
•Swim in the sea/river.
•Go wild camping/sleep outdoors.
•Go on a night walk/hike under a full moon.
•Hop on a train/bus and ride it to the end of the line and explore.
•Walk, run or bike from A to B.
•Go to the airport and book a random flight away for the weekend (I really want to do this, so tell me too, and I’ll join).
Take someone else on their first microadventure.
You can also check out this link for a whole library of Microadventure videos.
And if you really can’t find time for a microadventure, here’s 5 really small ideas to shake up routine:
•Speak to a stranger.
•Take a different route to work. Or even better, walk home.
•Brush your teeth with the other hand.
•Try a different café/restaurant for lunch.
•Sleep under the stars in your backyard.
We all need to unleash that adventurous spirit from time to time – it’s helps us grow and keeps us feeling alive. By no means do adventures have to be grand or wholly, they can also be small and plentiful, and there lies their beauty because anybody can create their own microadventure.
Remember it’s our mindset that determines how we perceive adventure. Limiting beliefs and excuses like lack of money or time are often just fear in disguise. Adventure is all around us if we’re willing to look for it, so rather than daunting ourselves with overwhelming long-term expeditions, with a simple shift in mind, the concept of microadventures present each and everyone of us with opportunity to gradually, and incrementally reignite more adventurous spirit into our lives right now.
So what are you waiting for… what microadventures will you embark on in 2018?
Thanks for reading and all the best,
Written by Daniel Beaumont, Saturday 20th January 2018
Acknowledgements & Further Reading
A big thanks to Alastair Humphreys for his awesome work in bringing Microadventures to life. I’ve linked some insightful resources below if you want to learn more about the concept:
About the Author
Hello everyone, I’m
I discovered that travel, if approached with the right mindset, can be life-changing, and a trip combining travel, purpose and introspection is a great way to learn, challenge oneself and change for the better. Now my mission in life is to share what I’ve learned to inspire others to embark on their own journey of self-discovery and use travel, entrepreneurship and technology as a means to make the world a better place.
I’m also the founder of Podstel – a vision to help humanity belong and grow by creating a worldwide network of ‘homes’ that bring locals and travellers together to share their stories, passions and skills. The first two Podstels are open and thriving in Bucharest, so if you’re passing through, be sure to come and say hi, or stay the night with us.
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