So often it is easy to plan an adventure starting with the destination. The Alps for winter climbing. Nepal for trekking. The West Coast of Scotland for sea kayaking. That’s not to say that destination planning is wrong. If we do not plan our destination, some of what needs to follow becomes more difficult, e.g. visas, currency, transport, language. Sometimes though, planning the destination is based on the stereotype adventure we are looking to have. Perhaps instead we should look at making the adventure irrespective of the destination. Obviously, anticipating surfing in the Sahara or skiing on the Norfolk Broads would be a mistake.
However, it is possible to find an adventure wherever the destination. Exploring Madrid on foot is easy to do when on a city break. Why not make more of an adventure of it and run the city in the early morning. There are different people on the street, less traffic, and the city takes on a very different feel. Down to the Parque del ben Retiro and enjoying the space before the crowds. Or how about wild camping on the outskirts of your home town, canoeing on an urban canal, or scuba diving off a nearby jetty. Each of these can bring it’s own sense of adventure without travelling far to your destination.
Alistair Humphreys has coined the term “micro-adventure” which pefectly describes these kinds of foray. Little local “missions” which can move you out of your comfort zone. Optional excursions from everyday life which test you, push you and drive you to new levels. Sometimes finding a different adventure brings the balance to ensure domestic bliss. They can bring excitement on otherwise unchallenging trips, or bring a sense of achievement in an otherwise unfulfilling day.
Determining the time and place can be a challenge and if trying to exploit a few hours on a family holiday, this can become the source of friction (managing that will be an adventure in itself). For example, early in the morning before breakfast consider an open water swim off the beach. If you are not a regular wild swimmer, and do not normally swim when no-one else is around then a small excursion like this will have a sense of excitement, newness and will bring a sense of achievement afterwards thereby satisfying some of the key requirements of an adventure.
Not every adventure will involve abseiling down a frozen waterfall, skiing off piste on a French mountain or diving on a wreck off a Pacific island. But even the smallest adventure can start with nervousness, excitement and a sense of challenge. “Do one thing every day that scares you”!
The buzz of trying something new, whether an activity, a food or a place can add to the excitement. The sense of doing something different, of learning a new skill and of pushing yourself to try something new is part of the whole developmental process of life. Getting better and growing by doing new things is part of what makes us people, never mind adventurers.
Satisfaction, pride and relief can be some of the emotions felt after an adventure, particularly when things haven’t gone entirely to plan. Even if an attempt to do something has failed, there can be a sense of achievement felt at having at least made the attempt. Hull’s second best climber* has talked about the learning that comes from failure. And learning is an achievement in itself. So when looking for your next adventure, you don’t need to start with looking for a destination. You don’t need to go far to find something to do which offers excitement, a feeling of newness and a sense of achievement. You don’t need to travel far to find adventure!