By Anna Thorne,
You’ve read pages of posts about the outdoors, scrolled through numerous breathtaking snippets on Instagram, and watched a multitude of perfect “adventure” reels on video platforms, like this one at The Great Sand Dunes, and you’re beginning to want the same views for yourself.
You’ve pinned awesome quotes on Pinterest like, “The Mountains are Calling, and I Must Go,” and “Let’s Sleep Under the Stars,” but you’re not quite sure how to make any of that actually happen. Maybe you’ve even done some structured traveling and gone on a few starter hikes, but you’re yearning for something crazy. Spontaneous travel can be scary, at first. So, where do you start?
It’s important to note that all of those amazing travel documentaries are no more than great pieces of media crafted to showcase a group of people who decided they wanted to do something and made it happen. How hard can it be to partake of that simple truth?
In my brain, a favorite quote from a good friend purely captures adventure in its glory. While visiting the Grand Canyon this past summer amongst streams of frazzled tourists clustered in front of rigid barriers, said friend pointed to a jutting cliff in the distance, empty and serene, and asserted, “I wanna be on that rock.” You see, that’s adventure. Deciding to gain a new perspective and explore something out of the ordinary produces a magical feeling inside. When harnessing that outlook in travel and daily life, unique adventures happen. That’s what creates spontaneous exploring.
So how do you get started?
Stop focusing on all of the places other people are going, and start finding the hidden gems closest to you.
This idea sounds oversimplified, but it’s the number one way to cultivate an adventurous spirit. Put your beauty-finder glasses on and seek new perspectives. For me, this means finding the highest point around and standing on top of it. For those with a fear of heights, your glasses may show a cluster of trees perfectly sculpted into a hideout. Do what you like, like what you do. The beauty of great exploration is that everyone does it differently. Find a new perspective. The more you explore what’s around you, the more you’ll savor long, planned trips.
Debunk the myth of packing: “I’m never going to be able to take everything I need in this small bag.”
Yes, you can, I promise. First, find a good bag. The style and size are all up to you, but remember, you can take a lot less than you think. You don’t need to spend a fortune on this step. Try to utilize what you already have before you acquire something new. Also, always remember to ask friends! They may be more than glad to loan their gear out for a few days, plus, borrowing helps to figure out what you like! If you realize nothing you have will suit your adventure, pop into a local gear shop and ask if they’ll help you find a great medium-sized day/overnight pack. Second, go on a scavenger hunt through your clothes. Choose your favorite shirts, pants, and shoes and take those. Why? If you follow the “rule of two” and only have a pair of everything, you’re likely to be much more comfortable taking less. Instead of wishing for more clothes, you’ll become perfectly happy with wearing the same outfit over again. Plus, if you’re traveling, you don’t know anyone, right? So why does it matter if you’re a little dirty or you’ve worn the same shirt for the past three days? You’ll never see these people again! Third, allow yourself a few fun items. When I backpack, I save weight in other areas so I can pack my ENO SingleNest, my best friend (green hydroflask), collapsible coffee drip, and a camera. The same goes for road trips and car camping. To me, they are worth the weight. It’s important to focus on minimalism, but it’s vital to have fun with what you take!
Choose and go.
This step often seems like the easiest, but can be the hardest to fulfill. Once you reach a decision on destination, get in the car, mount your bicycle, or a hop a plane and make your plans happen. Remember, gas is cheaper when you split it amongst great friends. If money is an obstacle, share your journey with more people sharing your love for adventure! Sometimes new gear can be a great motivator to get out and explore as well. There’s nothing wrong with camping just so you can use that new tent, mug, or flashlight. We all do it and whatever gets you outside has successfully done its job. Tell yourself, “Just Go.”
Whatever you do, especially if you go with others, choose to be present. You can’t enjoy the beautiful land in front of you if you’re staring at an electronic screen. Even though your trip might seem like an accomplishment worth celebrating on social media, it’s important to enjoy experiences while they last. Technology is great for enhancing experiences, but don’t let it be the lens through which you let nature’s glory captivate your senses. If you go with a friend, show your heart and invest in their soul. Like a great musician once said,
“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.”