A Legendary Explorer Wants To Help You Embrace ‘Microadventures’

Life Writer
12.13.17

Alastair Humphreys

For the next month, Uproxx GPS is zeroing in on “microadventures” — day trips, quick jaunts, and small-scale explorations that will notch neatly into your busy life. We’re kicking off by profiling Alastair Humphreys — the man who coined the term, which led to him being named National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year in 2012.

A “microadventure” just might be your new favorite way to explore the world around you. Alastair Humphreys coined the phrase and included it in his 2014 book Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes. With that book, he started a new era in how we look at travel and the accessibility of the world around us.

An adventure is often perceived as this grand continent-crossing. A dangerous expedition. Parts unknown. A microadventure is spending one night under the stars. It’s taking the cot and sleeping bag to the backyard and falling asleep with the blanket of stars. It’s jumping on your bike and hitting a trail, finding a place to start a campfire, and letting the fall wind embrace you. Microadventures are short trips that we can all take part in, tonight if we want to. All you need is a little bit of gear, a plan, and an adventurous spirit.

We caught up with Alastair Humphreys recently to talk about embracing the microadventure life. He gave us tips for finding microadventures out of our front doors, across America, and in between leaving work and clocking in the next morning. Humphreys didn’t invent camping out for a night. People have been doing that for a long time. He just wants to make it an actionable part of our over-saturated, nature-deprived lives. After all, each of us can always use a little more exposure to the natural world.

Alastair Humphreys

You’re very much known as the king of the microadventure these days, but you started off as a grand adventurer — biking around the world when you were 24.

I started out doing big adventures and with a totally unrealistic daydream of “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could make my living out of adventure.” Which, of course, is a ridiculous thing to imagine. I thought the way to try to do that was by doing big, crazy, massive, epic stuff. And it always amuses me that the thing that’s finally made my life viable was when I went small with my adventures.

But, yeah, you’re right. I started straight after university, age 24. I jumped on my bicycle and I cycled around the world. It was a four-year journey through 60 countries, five continents, 46,000 miles. I was young. I didn’t have much cash. I spent 7,000 pounds [$9,500] in four years, which was — at pre-Brexit exchange rates — still quite cheap.