After a long day at work, it can feel overwhelming to think about getting outside for a big workout. Whether you’re training for an upcoming trip or just want some fresh air to recalibrate your brain, you don’t have to waste your weeknights. There are 168 hours in a week, and you only have to spend 40-ish of them at work.
Fortunately, British adventurer Alastair Humphreys coined a term for mini-outings close to home, which usually don’t require tons of gear or time: “micro-adventures”. Whether you make your home in the city or the middle of nowhere (or anywhere in between), here are eight micro-adventures you can do even if you’ve only got a few hours to spare.
1. Take Your Dinner Outside
You’d be amazed how much better dinner tastes when you eat it outside. This could be as close to home as spreading out a picnic blanket on the back patio, or take it on the road and break bread at a local park. If you’ve got some new gear to test out or want to perfect a new backpacking meal, simulate the conditions of your next camping trip by heading to the nearest green space with your camp stove.
2. Have a Backyard Campout
Sleeping outside can give you a whole new perspective, whether you’re testing out a new bivvy sack, setting up your backpacking tent for the first time, or trying out your hammock-sleeping system. Invite some friends to partake in a weeknight camping trip—and, for bonus points, cook up some s’mores to help everyone get into the spirit.
3. Use All Your Helmets in One Week
You’ve probably got a handful of helmets in your closet for biking, climbing, skiing, and so forth. Some of them sit on a shelf and collect dust for months at a time, so see how many you can make use of in the span of five days by cragging, going for a mountain or road bike ride, paddling your local creek, or dusk-patrolling after work. Extra credit if you manage to do five different activities in five days.
4. Shake Up Your Commute
Odds are, there’s more than one way for you to get to work. It may take some advance planning, but ride your bike if you normally drive, even if it means leaving a bit earlier. Public transit can also be a bit of an adventure, especially if you’re new to it—try combining that with a bike ride if it’s too far on requires too much freeway time to pedal. Depending where you live, you could also take a stab at running or even paddling part of the way to work.
5. Do a Mini “Big Year”
For birding enthusiasts, a “Big Year” means dropping just about everything else to see as many bird species as possible in the span of 365 days. You may not have the time (or PTO) to embark on your own Big Year, but you can definitely do the micro-adventure version. Do a little research to come up with a list of local bird species and spend a weekday afternoon trying to see them all, or mix it up by looking for insects, flowers, or other flora and fauna.
6. Explore at Night
Even as the days get longer, it can be tricky to squeeze in outside time while the sun is in the sky. But that’s no problem for the micro-adventurer—all you need is a little gumption (and maybe a headlamp). Grab a friend and head to the nearest park or trail (just make sure you’re not at a park that closes at dusk!). Spend the evening exploring your local woods.
7. Go on a Scavenger Hunt
This is a great way to get to know your local green spaces. Spend some time with a map of your town and set up a scavenger hunt for your friends that lead them from one park, bike path, or wooded area to the next. See if you can get them to solve the whole thing by human power, without ever setting foot in a car.
8. Act Like a Kid Again
Think back to your favorite childhood activities. Depending on where you grew up, odds are good that either sledding or swimming are among them, and we’ve got good news: adults can totally still do those things. Find the nearest body of water that allows swimming and go for a dip. In the winter months, keep an eye on local hills with good sledding potential, then spend the next snowy day rigging something up for a few sled runs.
Written by Emma Walker for RootsRated Media in partnership with Gregory Mountain Products.
Featured image provided by Gregory Mountain Products