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Microadventures: Everything You Need to Know
August 25, 2020

Escaping into the sunset after work on a bikepacking microadventure. Photo: Getty Images

Microadventures are like showing up to your desk in the morning with an empty coffee mug. Except, instead of drinking a grande skinny latte with caramel drizzle, you are knocking back an espresso shot of adventure. These little shots of adventure are designed to fit into a busy, “normal” working life. You don’t need to wait for when you have enough time or money or prestige (or inclination) to go on a ground-breaking world-first expedition.

What are Microadventures?

A small dose of adventure can come in many forms | Photo: Getty

Microadventures are short 5-9 or weekend adventures. They’re things you can fit easily into your life and they don’t require much, if any, planning. In essence, they’re a way of recapturing that sense of adventure without having to quit your job and run for the hills. They’re founded on the belief that modern life need not be incompatible with an adventurous one. All it takes is challenging your assumptions – both about adventure and about life.

The beauty of the microadventure is that there is no prescription. All you have is a time limit and your creativity. No one is going to leap out of the hedge behind you, with a clip board, and tell you that your adventure doesn’t meet the standards for “proper” adventure. Alastair Humphreys, the man who popularised the idea of microadventures, says, “Microadventures helped restore my sanity, providing a dose of wilderness, offline stillness and physical toil, but still getting me back in time to do the school run.”

You can read our full interview with Alastair here: What is Adventure? An Interview With Alastair Humphreys.

Okay but how small can an adventure get?

Yeah, we hear you. Micro is only a power of 10 to the minus six. There are a whole load of funky Greek prefixes that are much smaller. Are we eventually going to be taking pico-adventures on prescription from the NHS? Well, maybe. But that’s not really the point. The point is that gone are the days when an adventure only referred to something as big as cycling round the world or running the length of Britain. These are still awesome adventures in their own right, but they’re not for everybody. And as anyone who commutes to work via SUP will tell you, you can have quite an adventure in an hour.

Who goes on Microadventures?

Kayak UK Best rivers to kayak in the UK 2

Kayaking on the Bridgewater Canal in Cheshire, England. Photo: Getty Images

Anyone can have a microadventure. Of course, you’re more likely to do them if you’re short on time. They’re quick snatches of adventure, claiming back some excitement from everyday life. Think of that coffee analogy: do you have the time to spend an afternoon drinking an ostentatiously named coffee? Or are you an espresso and dash sort of person? And the less time you have, the higher the chances are that you need to have a microadventure.

4 Microadventure Examples to Try

So, hopefully we’ve convinced you that lack of time, epic-ness and corporate sponsorship is no excuse to hold back from having an adventure. That is exactly what microadventures are for. Convinced? Good. Self-diagnosed as in need of microadventure? Great. Here are some microadventure examples for you to try.

Althought, calling them examples is a little misleading. As we’ve said, the whole point of microadventures is that they’re tailored into what works for you specifically. It wouldn’t make sense for us to give specific examples because we don’t know exactly who you are, where you live and when you have yoga class on Sunday. That would be weird. So, instead, we’re going to give you flavours of microadventure to get you started.

1. The 5 – 9 Overnighter

Getty Hiking in Scotland Midges avoiding

A Tent set up next to River Etive on a typical Scottish day. Photo: Getty

Typically, this is a midweek dash for the outdoors. You’ll go straight from work at 5 pm (or whenever they release you). Remember those kids at school who used to sprint out of the door as soon as the bell rang? That is you. You might be spending a night in a tent or a bivvy bag, in a National Park or your mate’s back garden. You might be going stargazing or night kayaking. Whatever you do, you’ll arrive back at work the next day, looking ever so slightly dishevelled, with a big grin on your face. It’s like having a secret. Everyone else at works thinks you went home and had a normal evening: sofa, dinner, sofa, boxsets, bed. Or something like that. No one will ever guess where you’ve been. Just you try hiding that impish grin in your morning meeting.

2. The Unplanned Day-trip

Cycling in Snowdonia Lôn Las Cymru Trail long distance cycling in the uk

Cycling views from the wild roads of Wales. Photo: iStock/peplow

A spontaneous one day adventure. It could be a single day off work, or half the weekend. Pick something that excites you. It could be taking your bike for a spin and seeing where you end up. Pack lunch, leave from your front door and explore. You could do the same thing by foot, boat, spacehopper – whatever’s easiest and fun for you. If you’re more of an adventure planner, you could book in a one day course or guided trip near home. Don’t overthink it.

3. The Weekend Fix

Why cook indoors when you could eat outside? | iStock: thinair28

As above, but longer. In fact, it’s a combination of both of our previous two flavours: the overnight experience, plus at least a full day’s adventure. The extra time allows for travelling a bit further from home – or just more adventure time! You might do a mini expedition, camping at the midpoint (or staying in a bothy or a canal barge or…). Plus you get to launch into an epic tale when your unsuspecting colleague ask you on Monday, “Good weekend?”

4. The Project

Out for an adventurous run, exploring the area. Photo: Getty Images

A single microadventure might not be enough for you. You might find it a little addictive. The project is perfect for creating a collection of microadventures to keep you busy. Or for people who like setting and working towards long term goals and require a purpose for pretty much everything (guilty). It’s also a fun way to keep your adventure levels up and not get dragged back into the drudgery of things. Some example of projects would be running all the tube lines in London like Laura Moss, swimming all the lakes in the Lake District or cycling all of your local streets. All these take place over months or years – it’s just something to chip away at slowly. And remember it’s about picking something local and easy for you logistically. If you need to spend weeks planning out your microadventures, you’re doing it wrong. Start small.

Ready to take a microadventure? Have a look at our weekend adventures or browse the rest of our site for inspiration.