14 Inspiring Ideas for Micro Adventures
Adventure isn’t all about exploring uncharted territories in far away locations. You can have just as much fun doing something new, different or challenging at home. Some of our best mini-adventures have been close to home, in the UK and Europe. You see adventure is not about a particular place or activity; it’s about the spirit in which you do things. And having a new experience in a familiar place can be just as rewarding as spending a fortune to be somewhere completely different.
Microadventures are a great way to introduce adventure into family life. Microadventures are about doing something small, new or spontaneous amidst or instead of your everyday routines. They can help nurture an adventurous spirit and help you develop a more adventurous lifestyle. Try it and see! Here’s fourteen ideas for micro adventures we’ve tried and can thoroughly recommend.
1 Do something just for thrills
Sometimes we just need a thrill to feel more alive, to get the palms sweating, heart racing, blood pumping. For some thrilling activities you don’t need any particular skills yourself, just the courage to sign up and be able to trust someone else to keep you safe while they give you an adrenal workout. Think white water rafting, tandem skydiving, bungee jumping, ziplining. In activities like these you let someone else do all the work; all you have to do is put yourself in their hands and enjoy the ride. Oh, and maybe push off. Our favourite (fastest and shortest) thrill of late has to be riding the longest zipline in Europe.
2 Travel in a different way
Travelling differently changes your experience. Change your travel mode and you’ll move in a different way, meet new people and stretch one or two muscles you didn’t know you had. If you typically drive, go by bike. If you normally use two feet then canoe or kayak. Got sea legs? Buy yourself some boots. It doesn’t matter what mode you use, or where you go. Do the same journey differently and see what happens: canoe to the supermarket, pogo stick to work, skip to school, scoot around a city. We took scooters down to Morecambe prom recently, a place we’ve walked and cycled hundreds of times, and discovered it was great for micro-scooter ballet.
3 Do something new for you
Comfort zones may be comfortable, but they aren’t always good for you. Some adventures only begin when you step outside them. But you don’t have to stretch until it’s painful. You don’t need to do world firsts or furthests to be personally adventurous; you just need to do something new for you. It matters not if everyone else you know has done it before, nor if they laugh at you for wanting to try, or at your efforts, or at your results. What matters is that you stretch yourself a little and build your adventure muscles.
You don’t have to stretch outdoors – you can adventure in relationships, knitting, music, art, whatever takes your fancy. I want to sing and play the drums, Kirstie wants to skydive; both are patently ridiculous, but why shouldn’t we have a go? Because we might fail or look stupid? So what? So would you like to do? What have you never tried? Write a list, don’t censor it, pick something and give it a go. Out in Iceland we had a random idea that we should try fishing and catch our tea. We hired a boat and some rods and once out on the fjord realised we had no idea what to do with a fish if we caught one. We failed, big time. But it was a fun and exciting afternoon. And I wouldn’t mind doing it again sometime.
4 Let the kids do something for themselves
In a family, adventure is about not just about realising your limits, challenging and stretching yourself. It’s also about encouraging and allowing others to do the same. In Slovenia last summer I wasn’t sure if Hannah was up to Monster Rolling, rolling 18km down the Julian Alps on modified scooter, but she said really wanted to have a go. She was keen and determined but I didn’t know if she could handle it. Still, we assessed the risks as best we could, gave her clear instructions, tested her out a little, then let her go for it, supervising closely. And you know what? I think she was better and braver than me.
5 Explore a personal great unknown
At its simplest you can have an adventure by simply going somewhere you’ve not been before. Choose a part of your local town or city, a footpath you’ve never been down, a country, a landscape, a part of the country you’ve never explored, a National Park you’ve never been to, or an environment unfamiliar to you – highlands, lowlands, wetlands, rivers and canals, coast and cliff top, island and shorelines, or wild uninhabited places. Don’t tell me you’ve seen and done it all!
Of course it doesn’t have to be overground. We’d never been caving before, and had a surreal and exciting day exploring the underground world of Slovenian karst with the help of a professional caver.
6 Choose adventure when it calls
Some say adventure is always calling; the question is are you listening? The opportunity for adventure may be all around but it doesn’t always announce itself loud and clear. Sometimes it sits unassumingly in the corner and you may have to train yourself to look and see that it’s there. Pay attention to those quiet whispers, crazy little ideas, unsigned paths. Give them life and who knows what will happen or where you may end up.
Last summer we found ourselves on a fairly ordinary walk in a very beautiful location, in the Durmitor National Park in Montenegro. There was nothing particular adventurous about this outing, until we discovered a short cut. Across the lake. Did it matter that we had no boat, nor swimming things? No, we had a tupperware container and a spirit of adventure. Well, at least some of us did. They took the path less trodden with amusing results. And had a lovely time. Perhaps I’ll try it in a Lake District tarn this year.
7 Sleep somewhere different
Sleeping in a different place can be a defining aspect of an adventure experience. So why not reshape your experience of the world by mixing up where you spend the night. Yes, even on a work or school night. You can work from 9 to 5 and microadventure from 5 to 9.
If you’re used to waking up under five stars, try sleeping under a million. If you usually use a tent, try a night in a bivvy bag or cave. If you love glamping, try wild camping. Changing where you lay your hat changes more than just the sheets and towels; you get to meet different people too and who knows where such chance encounters may lead. If you need a reason to do it, pick a special night and give it a theme. We joined in a summer solstice challenge to sleep out under the stars and had a fun, wild and very memorable night out.
8 Do something out of season
Ever heard the saying you can never walk in the same river twice? Well places are like that too if you visit at a different time of day or year. They can look and feel different, and offer alternative activities and challenges. A paddle down the River Wye in summer is wholly different experience to an autumn float trip after dark. And a winter walk in the Lake District or Scottish Highlands can be as technical and demanding as a mountain day in the Alps or Himalayas. Although do remember if you switch seasons to make sure your skills are up to the job. Notice how our January bike ride in Berlin was snow covered. And yes, we still pedalled, despite temperatures well below freezing. The guide said it was the coldest tour he’d run! And the pedalling helped to keep us all warm.
9 Embrace the weather
It may be natural to want to retreat indoors in bad weather but sometimes embracing the elements can provide a thrill you’d never have imagined. There’s some truth in the idea there’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. So why not kit yourself out and cultivate a positive attitude towards all kinds of weather. Dress appropriately and you can dance in the rain, roll in the snow, fly on the wind and keep a smile on your face. Don’t ask whether to adventure ask what kind of adventure could we have in this weather. You’ve seen Dubrovnik in the sunshine right? But have you seen it looking like this? Check out the smiles as we went singing in the rain when a summer storm emptied the town of tourists.
10 Do something silly
Not all adventure has to have a point. You’ll probably know this already if you have toddlers. Sometimes the point is just to get out there and do it. Doing something daft or just different can while away the time, release the inner child and be quite exhilarating. Like going up and down in a station elevator? Well I did say pointless…
11 Adventure back in time
Is time travel the ultimate adventure? OK so Tardis technology isn’t quite there yet but there are low tech alternatives you can use to add adventure to otherwise ordinary experiences. Ask an elderly neighbour out for a walk and you’ll soon be time travelling. Or head out somewhere using transport, clothing or gear from another age – paddle a coracle, ride a penny farthing, wear hob nail boots. Visit a living history museum, dress up, reenact the old days, live like “they” did “back then” and experience life differently. In Berlin we toured the city in an old Trabant, one of the former Eastern Block cars of choice. That really was a taste of the old days and left a lasting impression. I can still taste the oil and diesel fumes in my mouth.
12 Do something with one of the kids
Micro adventures can be great relationship builders. Changing the family dynamic can be refreshing and help develop different kinds of bonds and connections. If you usually all go out together, split into smaller groups or pairs. If you normally go out individually, try a whole family outing. I remember Dad taking me on boys’ days out while mum stayed home to watch TV, but how I’d have loved her to come with us once in a while, or even to have taken me out one on one. Time together on mini-adventure creates space to develop and deepen relationships; to have fun, share experiences, shoot the moon and get to know each other better, or more seriously to talk about ‘stuff’, share wisdom, mark a rite of passage or forge a special moment. Hannah still remembers the afternoon we swam in the Sea of Love. And I think Cameron and I will remember our Bosnian waterfall adventure for a long time too.
13 Embrace the night
Contrary to popular opinion, nothing bad happens when you go out at dark. Become a creature of the night and you literally open up a whole new world of adventures, or at least another eight hours or so. Adventures at night heighten the senses, bring new risks and dangers and, if you’re hard wired to fear the black, create an immediate sense of drama. Even the simplest of activities can be transformed simply by doing them in the dark. Grab a torch and a rucksack and head out on a familiar trail and you’re night hiking! We went a mile down the road and along a canal to visit a local travelodge and the experience of the familiar place was quite out of this world.
14 Create your own unique micro adventure
Adventurer Alastair Humphreys is an advocate for this. After cycling around the world he faced the challenge of what next and launched himself into a series of micro adventures at home in the UK. Can you think of anything less adventurous sounding than London’s M25 motorway? Well, he made an adventure of it, by spending a week walking and camping around it in the depths of winter. Great adventures are born in the imagination. Anyone can walk along a canal but could you be the first to stand-up paddle board the length of it?
Adventure is not about being the best, being world class, or beating your friends (although it can be about all those things), adventure is personal, about doing something personally challenging, developmental and satisfying. Don’t believe those who say you’ve got to spend time and money jetting off to the other side of the world for the ultimate adventures. With a little imagination, a little more bravery and the smallest of budgets you can create your own unique adventures that start at the edge of where you are standing. Just like this…
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Over to you?
So which of these ideas appeal to you? Or have you got an idea of your own you want to add. Leave a comment and let us know.