I love adventure, and tend to go on a lot of them. Because of this, I'm often asked to give advice on the best places to go for adventure. This is a difficult question, because adventure means so many different things to so many different people.
Adventure is not limited to extreme locations, or even natural environments for that matter. You don’t need to be super-hardcore, or travel half way around the world for it. It doesn’t matter what type of adventure you pursue, or how long it takes, or costs, or how few people have achieved it before you.
The two-hour adventure you actually have is far better than that epic you never get around to. That said, here’s what I do to keep those adventure demons at bay, whilst still maintaining a job and keeping my girlfriend happy.
LOTS OF MINI ADVENTURES
I work full-time in an office environment (albeit, a great and flexible one), so I don’t have the luxury of skipping town whenever I feel like it. Time, I guess, is my biggest hurdle. So instead of constantly pining for that ultimate escape, I put a lot of effort into having regular mini-adventures.
They’re usually between one and three hours long and are close to home. I like to go for a long walk after work most nights. Sometimes I’ll hire a kayak for an hour and simply paddle to a harbour-side beach and enjoy a coffee in the morning, or go rock climbing with some mates. My main aim is to get away from my phone and computer and zen out for a bit. I find water very calming so I gravitate towards the ocean, but anywhere will do.
The great thing about these mini-adventures is that they don’t require any planning, are pretty much free, and you can be back at home, reading the paper nonchalantly, before anybody knew you were even gone.
These are a step up from the daily impromptu adventures. They require a bit more planning, time and money, but provide good bang for your buck if you can manage a few of these each year.
A good example is the annual backcountry skiing trip with two or three other mates and is guaranteed to be a great adventure (or misadventure). We’ll take Friday and Monday off work (or fit it in with a long-weekend) and leave after work on Thursday night for the five-hour drive to the snow. We’ll arrive at one of the ski-resorts in the early hours of the morning and sneak a couple of hours sleep in the car park before catching the first ski lift to the top of the mountain. We’ll then ski for eight or nine hours into the wilderness with our backpacks filled with enough food and equipment to last a few days.
We’ll usually stay there for a couple of nights and explore the area during the day. There’s almost always a blizzard, we’ll get lost for a bit and things won’t go to plan, but we’ll get back home on Monday night, tired, smelly and satisfied.
BIG BADASS ADVENTURES
Every so often, maybe once every year or two, the stars align and I’m able to go on a big badass adventure. By ‘badass’, I mean something that might be a world-first and usually something that takes at least a month or two to complete.
This sort of adventure takes a lot of planning, money, imagination and a sympathetic boss. This is where a bottle of wine and a world map come in handy. Looking at the potential adventure destinations when an entire country is no more than a few centimetres wide on the map, means you start to think big, real big.
The first step is to imagine what type of adventure you want and how you want to travel. Will it be a polar expedition dragging a sled, or will it be a kayaking adventure down some ridiculously long river somewhere? Maybe it’ll simply be you hanging out on a deserted island ‘cast-away’ style for a month or so. Take your pick; they’re all good!
Everyone is different, but if I can manage a daily routine of mini-adventures, with a few weekend trips scattered throughout the year and a big badass trip every couple of years, then I’ll be one happy adventurer.