Adventurer Alastair Humphreys has taken on some big challenges. From cycling around the world in four years to rowing the Atlantic, no adventure is too big. Now, he’s also turned his attention to experiences that are smaller, accessible to more people and a lot closer to home – Microadventures.
We caught up with Alastair and talked all things Microadventures – read the full interview below.
WHAT IS A MICROADVENTURE?
Everyone knows what an adventure is. A Microadventure is just the same, but the difference is that it’s compatible with our busy, urban and 21st century lives. It’s something that’s usually short, cheap and accessible in any environment, including the city. Microadventures try to remove the excuses and busyness from real-life, so you can still live adventurously.
"Microadventures allow even complete novices to venture out and enjoy their surroundings, even if it’s just an hour from their home."
WHAT WAS YOUR MOTIVATION FOR STARTING MICROADVENTURES?
I started doing Microadventures because at the time I was doing bigger adventures, and the feedback I often received from people was ‘I’d love to do big adventures too, but.’ Usually for most people it’s due to a lack of time or money. Well, Microadventures can be done in as much spare time as you have, and as inexpensively as you’d wish.
The other common obstacle is the perception that in order to go on adventures, you have to have a certain amount of knowledge and expertise to do so. Microadventures allow even complete novices to venture out and enjoy their surroundings, even if it’s just an hour from their home.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FOR EACH MICROADVENTURE FROM?
Ideas come to me in a whole manner of ways. Normally I’d get them by thinking of an activity that I’d like to do and then finding a location to do it, or I find a location I’ve never been to, and think of something that I’d like to do there. When it comes to finding new locations for example, quite often when I’m on the train and I see a lake, hill or river out of the window, I’ll look at the map on my phone, see where I am at the time and make a note to research later.
I’m also inspired by the books I read, which can provide both the location and the activity at the same time. Reading about something, then going out and actually doing it gives you a great sense of achievement.
WHAT’S THE MOST MEMORABLE MICROADVENTURE YOU’VE BEEN ON SO FAR?
The most memorable is the first Microadventure I went on, which was a walk around the M25 motorway. This confirmed in my mind that you can have an adventure anywhere and at any time, even somewhere that is perceived to be as unpleasant as the M25!
Another trip I have fond memories of is when I swam along the Thames and out of London over a couple of days. I’d never been on a swimming adventure before, and I’m not the strongest of swimmers so it was all completely new to me. We’re all so busy on our phones all the time that it was nice to slow everything down and be ‘offline’ for a couple of days, disconnected from the world - that aspect really appealed to me.
HOW LONG DO YOU NORMALLY TAKE PLANNING YOUR MICROADVENTURES?
It can vary on the adventure, as well as how comfortable you are with what you’re planning to take on. For example, I recently did another swimming adventure where I researched swimming in books and on websites, and studied maps to look for the best routes and rivers - I probably spent more time researching than I actually did swimming.
There are also occasions where someone might ask me to go somewhere, or do something off-the-cuff and these are just as enjoyable.
WHICH ESSENTIAL PIECE OF KIT WILL YOU NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT TO GO ON A MICROADVENTURE?
Well for me, adventures often involve sleeping outside overnight, so a bivvy bag is my essential item when it comes to Microadventures.
If you’re seeking inspiration for your next, or even first, Microadventure head over to our Microadventure hub for some ideas and challenges. Make sure you use #Microadventure on social media to show us the challenges you’ve taken us up on.