“Adventure is a state of mind… not only crossing deserts and climbing mountains; adventure can be found everywhere, every day, and it is up to us to seek it out.” – Alastair Humphreys
What if – due to age, or lucky temperament – your state of mind is permanently adventurous? What if you’re a three-year-old brimming with curiosity, or a mother keen to foster that sense of exploration?
Microadventure: something nearby and simple, which retains the challenges and joys of long-distance/long-term travel, but does not require expensive gear or an extended holiday to complete.
Mr. Humphreys, the British photographer and microadventure creator, gave me an idea: if the physical location has little to do with it, then we can turn anything into an exciting destination.
Even, say, the living room of our urban one-bedroom apartment.
Here’s how to take a local environment and turn it into a traveling microadventure, L.A. style:
Embrace the preparation.
Sure, your list might be a bit shorter, but write one anyway. Revel in the little details that make up a successful journey. The best part of packing for a living room camp-out is that you don’t have to carry your bags farther than the back wall…
Talk it up.
Inject your microadventure with a bit of enthusiasm, and you can turn a ‘typical’ weekend mission into something much more exciting. There’s a reason my daughter pronounced this “The best camping trip ever!”; we started every activity with an “Ooohh” (and then ate a lot of s’mores).
Keep it cheap.
One of Humphrey’s tenants is that this type of adventure shouldn’t require fancy new gear. Packing made easy, requiring only a trip to the kitchen cupboard or nearby store. In this case, we added the neighborhood library and sushi joint – because what’s swanky city camping without reading bedtime books over California-caught salmon?
Be ready for surprises.
Clearly, a real fire would go against numerous building codes, and freak out the neighbors. Yet my favorite thing about traveling is how the world surprises us with little possibilities. So I put the gluestick to good use and suddenly, Aila and I were burning our toes near the bright (construction paper) flames. Go ahead, add ‘Imagination’ to your microadventure packing list!
Never turn your back on an open bag of marshmallows.
Because scavenging crows and raccoons aren’t the only creatures who can smell sugar from across a city block.
Ignore the clock.
Going into the Great Outdoors – another important element of the microadventure – also gets you off the clock. Rather than measuring the day by wristwatch, you can relax and figure the hours based on forest shadows, hiking blisters, or hungry stomachs.
I confess, counting airplanes incoming to LAX is not the same as counting constellations in a clear night sky. And a 24-hour mini-adventure in a child’s play tent will never be quite the same as a month backpacking through a foreign country.
So consider it a challenge. If discoveries are inherent to distant travel, what unexpected memories will you make in your own backyard?
Tell me about your ideas for an urban microadventure!