While we filmed the recent #iMAlwaysReady for adventure video with Scion Canada, a single question came up more than a few times.
“How do you find time for so many adventures?”
I think it’s easy to answer, no matter where you call home. I am lucky to call the Canadian Rockies home. I can leave my house on a mountain bike and choose from a network of nearly 200 km of trail. If I opt to hike, that number creeps up to nearly 1000 km. I do get outside on a regular basis, but I still get jealous of people who do it better than I do.
But Alastair Humphreys lives in London, England, which is the polar opposite to my own living situation. In place of the Valley of the Five Lakes trail, he has the infamous M25 motorway. Yet Humphreys was the 2012 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and he routinely squeezes in more outdoor adventure from his London-based home than I do, despite living surrounded by the Canadian Rockies.
The secret to building an adventure-filled lifestyle isn’t dependent on where you live, but rather how you choose to live.
Here are my 11 suggestions for beginning an adventurous lifestyle
- Quantify your available time – The majority of us work 9-5 from Monday to Friday. That’d be a light workweek compared to my normal schedule.As a self-employed person, I’ve always taken solace in this joke:Q: Do you know the best part of being self-employed?
A: Not only do I get to work half days, but I also get to choose which 12 hours I work!
My point is, no matter how busy you get, you have spare time. If you work from 9-5, you could squeeze in a weekly overnight trip between from 5-9. Those are 16 valuable hours and I can’t think of many Canadian cities that don’t have a wilderness area and campground within a two-hour bike ride of downtown.
Rather than use a busy schedule as an excuse, write down a clear schedule of your available time and find ways to maximize it.
- Make the most of where you live – I am lucky to live in the Canadian Rockies. Not only can I see both Mt Edith Cavell and Pyramid Mountain from my house, but I can also climb them both with a single day off work. It’s a privilege that makes getting outside easier; however, it is possible to make the most of any situation. Rather than make the easy excuse that adventure isn’t close to home, opt to make the most of where you live. Google search adventures in your hometown, buy a map and vow to visit all the green spaces, or join a local club that’ll get you outside. No matter where you live, adventure is close to hand. It’s just a matter of perspective.
- Take advantage of your holidays – One benefit of most 9-5 jobs is a minimum of 10 days holiday per year. In Canada, we have another 11-12 stat holidays, depending on which province you call home. Along with weekends, that gives you an additional 20+ days without work commitments. While a 1-2 week winter holiday to an all-inclusive beach property might be tempting, it does eat up plenty of your available time away from the office.Instead, take a look at the calendar and use some strategy before requesting holiday time. Pair a couple days off with a public holiday to turn 2 vacation days into a five-day trip. If you are hell-bent on a week-long all-inclusive stay, book it over a long weekend so the saved vacation day can be used to create another long weekend whenever you choose.
Time is the one commodity we cannot afford to waste, so take ownership over your power to use it to your advantage.
- List out your options – Whenever I catch myself saying I can’t think of anything to do, I challenge myself to come up with a lengthy list of possibilities. I’ll regularly make lists of 10 hikes I’d like to do this summer, 10 places to backcountry ski this winter or simply plan the ultimate road trip across Alberta. I have bucket lists for close to home and far off adventures and I actively work to check off each idea.No matter where you call home, there will be a selection of outdoor activities, multi-use trails, and potential outdoor adventures. The secret to never growing bored is to find the information and list off things you’d love to do. That way, when you have a spare few hours, instead of wasting it searching for an idea, you spend it checking something new off your bucket list.
- Focus on your passions – I’ve wasted a good amount of time working towards goals that weren’t my own. I rarely accomplished them.When I began training for a marathon, I thought it’d be a fun accomplishment. I was ignoring the fact that I genuinely dislike running. I put in hours of training for weeks on end, but ultimately I fell short of running a 42 km race simply because my heart wasn’t behind the idea.I learned from that experience, though, so now I choose to focus on my passions. I love hiking in the backcountry on trails where I’ll encounter few people, so I have a list of Jasper’s top backcountry hikes squirreled away on my computer. I also love backcountry skiing, so I have a solid list of backcountry huts that I’d love to visit.
The key is to focus on the things that are closest to your heart, because you’ll find more energy and enthusiasm to spend on them than you will on something you’re forcing yourself to do.
- Give yourself a challenge – I’m definitely a goal-oriented person. Few things bring me greater joy than identifying an objective and working towards its completion. It’s almost a compulsion; I make a daily to-do checklist and work my way through the list.On a larger scale, I often list out my big adventure goals and they’ve varied wildly from exercising every day for a month (January 2016) to cycling the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (August 2015).Whether you sign up to a race or select some lofty goal that requires greater skills or fitness than you currently have, write it down. Then plan out a clear path to checking that item off your bucket list!
- Pack a daypack – I have a theory that as humans, we’re all naturally lazy. If I didn’t challenge myself to get outside, I’d stay on my couch flipping channels or scrolling through Facebook status updates from friends out doing rad adventures. One of my tricks to make myself get outside is removing the barriers. I always have a backpack sitting right beside my back door. I keep my camera gear, a raincoat, and some basic snacks ready to go at all times. Whenever I have a few hours free, I don’t lose anytime getting things ready.I’m stay packed and ready to go, making it easier – and that much quicker – to get my butt outside before excuses work their way into my mind.
- Spend money on experiences – Outdoor adventures can get expensive. Specialty backpacks, climbing equipment, and ski gear all cost heaps of cash. Add in the fact we all love shiny new toys, and gearing up for outdoor fun can get expensive in a hurry.Rather than buy unnecessary items or long before you replace a well-worn pair of boots, opt to spend your hard-earned money on experiences. In the long run, you’ll be much happier (unless you’re cheaping out on life-dependent gear like climbing rope or avalanche transceivers. In that case, spend the money to keep yourself safe).
- Finesse your skills – I recently read an article about somebody who wanted to climb and ski the Grand in Grand Teton National Park but had little relevant experience. It’s a complicated alpine route that requires plenty of rope work, mixed climbing, and strength.To gain those skills, the person didn’t move to the mountains or train with a mountain guide. They joined their local climbing gym and learned the required skills while building their climbing strength. Because it was a realistic training regimen, they succeeded in skiing the Grand on their first attempt.The key to many successful outdoor adventures is simply acquiring the skills necessary to accomplish it safely. Even the cities furthest from the mountains (I’m looking at you Toronto) have climbing clubs and spin classes. Figure out what you need to improve to accomplish your next big goal, and go find the help you need to get the job done.
- Find a partner in crime – Like almost everything in life, outdoor adventures are often more rewarding and way more fun when done with other people.I ski tour regularly and I’ll head out with any number of people, but I do have my regular group that I enjoy spending time with. We have similar mountain experience, feel comfortable making decisions together, and have both similar lifestyles and respect for the environment.If you are looking to get into a new sport, join a club, find a mentor, or ask a friend to join you. It’ll not only make the experience more fun, but it’ll give you a sense of obligation because skipping a workout won’t just be letting yourself down, but it’ll ultimately affect somebody else, too.
- Set a lofty goal – All ten of the previous suggestions lead us to one final recommendation. Write down a lofty goal and let the world know about it. It doesn’t matter how wild it is, because we’re all capable of some pretty wild thing.Whether you choose to bike your first century ride or climb Mt Everest, just make it a SMART goal. Figure out exactly what you need to do to accomplish it and then get outside and make it happen.That’s exactly how I managed to bike the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route last summer and it’s how I hope to haul myself to the top of Mt Cephran this summer.
This post was sponsored by Scion Canada and its #iMAlwaysready campaign. Please visit their website to learn more about the project and don’t forget to share your adventures with both #iMAlwaysReady and #ScionCanada. If you haven’t seen the original film yet, please take a few minutes to watch it now!