My pack is light. I am wearing almost all the clothes I will need for the whole day. My lunch is packed and water bottles are full. Everything I need is on my back and my phone is switched off to airplane mode. I am travelling light and nimble today.
I don’t always travel or approach adventure from this perspective. Often I am heavily leaden with duffle bags, extra gear, extra clothes, and too many pairs of boots for the possible conditions. I am that guy you see in the airport with a backpack on and dragging two oversize duffle bags headed on a month long international expedition.
Microadventure, a term coined by adventurer Alastair Humphrey, is a mindset, an intention, and a way of being. It’s a chance to experience your local environment, local culture, and community with the spirit and engagement you would normally reserve for the “bucket-list” type experiences we hold in high regard.
Dump the oversize luggage, strip down to your necessities, open your mind to the possibilities and engage in a local microadventure. The rewards are immensely satisfying.
The benefits of a local microadventure:
That twitchy feeling you get to check-in, post an update, play a game? Ditch the technology and feel the freedom of full engagement in the moment without distraction. It may be a challenge for the first part of the day, but a few hours into it you’ll appreciate the sabbatical. In a plugged-in-24/7 world, give yourself the gift of going off grid.
Moving your body, breathing, increasing your heart rate, all of these things release endorphins. An increase of endorphins in turn reduces stress and anxiety, increases feelings of well-being, and supports mental clarity—all good things!
3. Solitude or Companionship
You’ll need to make a choice microadventure alone or with a friend. Either way you’ll experience benefits. A solo microadventure affords the opportunity to move at your own pace and whim, sit with ideas longer, and alter your course or goals as you see fit. On the other hand, a microadventure with friends strengthens your relationship with a shared goal, can provide support to push further than you may on your own, and additional safety and security if your microadventure involves risk.
4. Shift Perspective
Combine the three benefits above and a shift in perspective is inevitable! Along the way new creative ideas will emerge, stuck thoughts will transition towards clarity, and new solutions and approaches will emerge. Step out of your normal routine and your mind does too!
It’s the little things: the moment you pause and see your local landscape from the eyes of a visitor. See the detail in the interactions around you. Notice the smells and taste a little clearer. Gratitude is an effortless by-product of microadventure: gratitude toward your environment, others, and yourself.
Big or small microadventures embrace your local landscape and offer a full day of engagement.
Consider your options: what does a microadventure look like for you? The beauty of the microadventure is in it’s versatility and flexibility. My microadventure this week was a day of backcountry skiing eight miles from my house (see image above) while a friend of mine took a day to herself with a pledge to walk all of her errands and attend a community theater in the evening with a friend she see’s less frequently than she wishes (all while unplugged). All you need to create a microadventure is your imagination, a willingness to fully engage, and commit to step outside of your own comfort zone.
My next microadventure? Well, I am headed back to the spot I went skiing last Sunday. It’s local and I can maintain my previous commitments to friends and family before and after skiing. It’s an adventure that doesn’t dictate rearranging my schedule for a few weeks, traveling halfway around the world, and hauling duffle bags in an airport; although those are great adventures too!
Matt Walker is a psychologist and world-class mountain climber. He's the author of Adventure in Everything: How the Five Elements of Adventure Create a Life of Authenticity (Hay House).
He's been working with individuals and groups since 2001 leading them on adventures to support them with necessary shifts so they align with their full potential. He works with all kinds of people from parents who blog to executives at Fortune 500 companies including Marriott, Amazon, Nike and Microsoft. You can learn more about him and the Five Elements of Adventure at www.innerpassage.net.