We know people who are paid to have an adventurous life, and we’ve interviewed a few like Eric Weihenmayer, Melissa Arnot, and Lee Farmer. But what about the rest of us…those who have jobs and responsibilities that make it tougher to take the time and cover the expense of all of the things we’d love to do? We manage to have a great deal of adventure and are often asked, “when do you work?” and, “how do you afford it?” Here’s our advice for how to make it happen no matter what your circumstances:
Be ready to go
If it takes a great deal of effort to go, then you’ll make excuses not to. Every time we return from an adventure, we clean and dry our gear, fix anything that is broken, and have everything on shelves and in duffels in our garage so that we can find it quickly. We also have a master checklist broken down into sections that helps us quickly make sure we’re ready to go to the beach, climbing, or camping. The things we use most often, like our shoes, flash packs, headlamps and doggie water bowls are kept in the house where we can grab and go.
We find invariably that if don’t use our checklist, we forget critical things. Likewise, using a checklist makes us feel comfortable that we can make a decision about a hike very quickly and not feel stressed that we’re not thinking it through. Also, we always have extra canisters of fuel for our stoves, dehydrated food, MRE’s, and fully charged batteries. This way, we can leave any time of the day or night without stopping at a store or even worrying that a store is open.
Lastly, we have resources on the web, maps and books that allow us to quickly do research and pick something without taking large amounts of time to get all the information necessary. For Southern California, we use websites like Dan’s Hiking Pages, Modern Hiker, and SoCal Hiker. Having a few websites like these makes deciding and being prepared both stress free and quick.
Make adventure part of everything
When we have trips for work, we find ways to squeeze adventure into the mix, like when we hiked the first part of the Appalachian Trail while in Atlanta for business, or visited the Kennedy Space Center when at a conference in Orlando.
If you have an hour, find an adventure that takes an hour. For us this means hitting a trail near our home, like the Eaton Canyon First Waterfall. If we have a day, we find an adventure that can be done in a single day, like climbing Mt Baldy. Too many people put off adventure because they have an idea that fun takes days or weeks. We have constant adventure because we take what time we have. Also, having small but consistent adventures increases your fitness and keeps your mind always open to finding new experiences.
Have a partner
We’re fortunate that we’re married and both enjoy the same things. Having someone you can rely on to share adventures makes it easy and more fun. For some of our friends whose wives don’t do the same things, we are their partners for adventures. You’ll be much more likely to carry out a plan if there’s someone else involved. If you don’t know anyone, there are great websites like Meet Up that will help you find partners.
Keeping the cost down
Your adventure doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. If you’re a beginner, buy good gear gradually, starting with great shoes. Hiking is inexpensive and an easy way to get started on the ‘right foot’. When you decide to invest more, buy only once by reading gear reviews and consulting with experts at the best stores like REI. Quality gear that is well treated will last for a long time, as opposed to inexpensive goods that in the end won’t save you at all. Don’t be afraid to use the internet to find the best prices but be aware that shipping costs and difficult returns could make the online experience not so competitive in price and service.
More than anything, get out there. The more you go, the more you’ll go. That sounds silly but is the heart of having great adventures.