7 Ways to Find Adventure Close to Home with the Family
This is a special guest post from Kate Stinglewood, a business consultant in the Midwest & adventure mom of four. She’s constantly creating new, fun activities for her family to participate in, most recently finding safe ways they can adventure together outside.
As humans, we crave adventure. We thrive on novelty — just trying something new or different from our everyday routine. But these days it can be difficult to find time for a major adventure in between work and family responsibilities.
Fortunately, adventurous living doesn’t only mean jetting off to exotic islands or traveling to a distant national park for two weeks. You can find plenty of adventure without going far from your home. Even though we’re in the midst of a pandemic, the following are activities you can do safely to get that taste of adventure many of us are craving right now. Many of them are considered traditional but we’ve added suggestions with each adventure to kick it up a notch.
1. Head Out for a Family Paddle
Two fun sports that don’t require a huge amount of training or equipment are kayaking and canoeing. You can often rent a watercraft and equipment at reasonable prices at local lakes and rivers, and there’s something about getting out on the water that brings you back to nature. Plus, it’s fairly easy to do safely during the COVID-19 era of social distancing.
Paddling can be an adventure in itself, as you navigate the waters and figure out how to best paddle in the current conditions.
Kick it up a notch: One fun activity, especially with kids, is to make a game of spotting turtles and other wildlife along the route. You might keep a running tally of how many creatures you notice while you’re on the water.
2. Make a Bucket List of Local Trails to Hike
Chances are good you haven’t explored every county park, state park, or local trail in your region. When you don’t have time for a big trip far from home, it’s a great opportunity to explore trails in your local area.
Do a quick online search for hiking trails nearby and start checking them off whenever you have a few hours. Hiking is perfect for adventure because you truly never know what you might find. Trail conditions can vary greatly from day to day and season to season. You might hike a trail early in the morning to catch the sunrise or venture out for an all-day hike.
Many hiking trails also have campgrounds available for those who wish to stay on the trails for multiple days. It’s a great way to vacation without crowds, especially as you aim to follow travel restrictions while COVID-19 is a factor.
Kick It Up a Notch: A fun way to inject some additional into your hikes is setting up a scavenger hunt. Kids love this. When you hit the hiking trails, have a list of things for them to look for or a bingo card to mark off items as they see them. Perhaps they look for deer tracks, unique plants, birds, or other items they might find along the way. A small prize at the end can be a good motivator for younger kids to keep moving when they get tired.
3. Find a New Campground to Explore
Camping is a top way to discover affordable adventure. You can travel far to camp or find a spot just a few miles from your house. Mix it up even if you’re a seasoned camper. Try it in the winter if you’ve never done so. Print out a map of your state, tape it on the wall, throw a dart at it, and go to the closest public camping spot where the dart hits. Or embark on a solo camping trip if you normally camp with a group. Heck, you can even camp in your own backyard.
Camping is the perfect way to get you and your family away from screens and Wi-Fi to focus on nature. There are a ton of benefits for your mental and physical health, including stronger relationships, getting in touch with your circadian rhythms, and decreased depression.
Kick it up a notch: You can make an adventure out of finding your campsite and putting up your tent, especially if you have camping newbies in your group who need extra guidance. And hanging around a fire pit has a way of drawing people together. You enjoy activities and conversations you wouldn’t have any other way, all while getting some fresh air in the great outdoors.
When it’s dark, you can stargaze and find constellations. You could also encounter fascinating insects while you’re at your campsite. Camping is also highly recommended for people who want to get away during the pandemic but do so safely.
4. Start a Wildlife Journal
This is something that can enhance many of your outdoor adventures by helping you become more aware of everything you see. Whether you’re kayaking, hiking, cycling, running, or just hanging out in the park, record your sightings in a wildlife journal.
Be sure to record the animals you see on your activities and keep a simple record of the date and location where you spotted the animal. Younger kids might enjoy a sketching version of a journal, drawing what they see.
Keeping a journal gives you something to focus on while hiking and something to do when you get back home. Plus, it builds some continuity into your outdoor adventures. You might check the journal before heading out for a day trip to refresh your memory of what you saw last time.
Kick it up a notch: Be sure to include specific details about the animals you see. For instance, if you’re in an area that has a known American bald eagle nest and you’re the first one to spot two eaglets, the local parks department will be eager to get this information from you. Likewise, if you’re in an area that has hundreds of sandhill cranes, make detailed notes in your journal and if there is anything out of the ordinary — such as a crane that appears injured or has unusual marks on it — let the local parks department know.
5. Create an Adventure Challenge
You can create whatever adventure challenge will excite you. Perhaps that’s running or biking a certain number of miles in a month or visiting every state park within a 100-mile radius. Get creative and come up with something fun that challenges you and keeps you motivated on days when you might be tempted to sit on the couch.
Kick it up a notch: Plenty of races around the world have switched to a virtual format during the pandemic. You can sign up, log the miles on your own, and still receive great swag to feel like a part of something bigger. A cool one to check out is the 480-mile Camino de Santiago Virtual Challenge.
6. Put Your Off Grid Chef Hat On
What better way to be adventurous than by trying out new foods? If you’re camping, that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to the standard fare of hot dogs and chips. Introduce some adventure into your life by finding some interesting recipes to try over the CampStove.
Kick it up a notch: Try one of your favorite food shows’ competitions. For instance, have two people make a meal in 30-minutes and vote on the winner. Or give someone five ingredients, set the clock for 30 minutes, and see what they can prepare using only the CampStove.
7. Experiment with Geocaching
Geocaching is the modern-day version of a treasure hunt. You use your GPS device to locate caches, or hidden stashes of objects. You register online, then search for the longitude and latitude of the hidden “treasure.”
The cache will be a waterproof container that may be hidden from plain sight but will not be buried underground. Along with the actual cache, you’ll find a logbook for you and others who locate the item.
Typically, when going on a geocaching adventure, you’ll need walking shoes and a device equipped with GPS. A map and umbrella may also come in handy. State and local parks are good places to find a geocaching expedition to try.
Kick it up a notch: Time your family on how long it takes to get certain items. Compare your times with other friends’ and compete as families. Make it into a long-term competition.
Sometimes, your life’s adventure level depends on you. The way you view your daily life has a huge impact on your experiences. With a positive attitude, you can shift your perspective to feel less stressed and view even the most mundane of activities as an adventure.
So next time you feel like your life is boring, see if you can alter your perspective. Maybe you can’t go on that tour of 10 national parks this year, but you could take some time to explore the gems of natural wonders right in your own city or county.
Finding adventure close to home isn’t as tough as it sounds. You can learn to find adventure in every day, no matter where you are, by being creative.