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Becoming Adventurous: A Conversation With Alastair Humphreys

Simple tips for getting out of your house — and your comfort zone — from adventurer Alastair Humphreys.

Al Humphreys

Adventurer, blogger, author, and motivational speaker Alastair Humphreys has traveled the globe. His feats include cycling round the world, walking across India, and rowing the Atlantic. But it’s his work breaking down the elitism often found in exploration that might have the greatest impact.

In 2012, National Geographic named him their “Adventurer of the Year,” in part, for his pioneering concept of microadventures — treks that are close to home, short, simple, and inexpensive. His goal is to encourage people from all backgrounds to venture outside, out of their comfort zone, and experience somewhere they’ve never been — even if it’s in their own backyard.

Here are some of Humphreys’s top simple strategies for bringing more adventure into your life.

Experience Life | You’re a seasoned worldwide explorer with a mission to inspire people of all travel experience levels to take “microadventures.” What are microadventures?

Alastair Humphreys | Microadventures are adventures. Simple as that. But they are adventures that are compatible with the constraints of our busy, real lives. A lack of time, money, kit, expertise, or handy mountains need not stop you from having an adventure. If you haven’t got time to climb Everest, it’s better to sleep on top of a local hill under the stars than to do nothing at all.

EL | Why do you think people need adventure?

AH | We are wild creatures. We are not designed to spend all our lives in boxes, looking at screens. We need — at least occasionally — to get our blood pumping, to take risks and scare ourselves, and to remember there is a wild and beautiful universe out there on the other side of our double-glazing.

EL | Some people feel like their day is over at 5 p.m. How can your concept of using adventure from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. transform an ordinary workday into something more meaningful, rewarding, or unexpected?

AH | It’s about seeing the opportunities in your life rather than being hampered by the constraints. Instead of lamenting your lack of adventure because of your 9-to-5 commitments, why not look instead at the opportunities that can be enjoyed in your 5-to-9 and make the most of those 16 hours of daily freedom?

EL | There’s a growing body of research suggesting that having awe-inspiring moments improves well-being. What are some places that have evoked a feeling of awe in you?

AH | Well, lots of the big wild places of the world, of course. But I’ve found awe and wonder by sleeping in my garden and seeing shooting stars, by walking in a wood at dawn, or by the bracing grin-inducing shock of jumping into a cold river!

EL | You believe that adventure is everywhere, every day. What are some ways people can create more adventure in their lives even if they aren’t ready to take a microadventure or sleep outside overnight? 

AH | You can swim in a river, go for a full-moon walk up a hill, or make breakfast in the woods one weekend. Or, you can simply go to your backyard and climb a tree! When is the last time you did that?

Follow all of Alastair Humphreys’s journeys on Twitter and via the Microadventures community on Facebook.

Image courtesy of Alastair Humphreys.

Heidi Wachter is the staff writer for Experience Life.

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