The word microadventure hasn’t made it into the dictionary yet, but it might soon. The term – for a low-maintenance mini adventure you can do near home – appears more than 3,500 times on YouTube and has become a cult hashtag on Twitter.
It was first conceived by British adventurer Alastair Humphreys, who has rowed the Atlantic, cycled the world and canoed the Yukon River. But, in 2011, he was giving a speech and it dawned on him that his audience probably couldn’t relate. “I realised that what seemed normal to me must have seemed really adventurous to the audience,” says Humphreys, now 37. “I wanted to make adventures more accessible to everyone.”
So he set off to walk the M25 motorway round London, dealing with foxes stealing his food and a farmer with a shotgun on the distinctly unglamorous 188km hike. “Each day on that wintry trek around the M25 I was going somewhere new,” he says, “I was learning about different places and I was meeting people. It was classic travel, and I didn’t have to leave suburbia.”
He tagged his journey #microadventure, and a community was born. Strangers across the world started posting tweets about their own overnight stays on hillsides, wild river swims, and of cycling trips with nights under the stars. For some, it was just a longer route to work.
Humphreys’ adventures since have included walking home for Christmas (a nine-hour trek from London to Kent) and walking the popular commuter route from central London to St Albans. And after being named as one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year, he is set to release a book on microadventures this summer, with stories of his own trips and tips on how you can do your own, from reading a map to where to sleep.
“What I’ve always wanted people to think is that a microadventure isn’t a lesser deal than a big journey, just a shorter, smaller version,” says Humphreys. “Rather than thinking this is just a rubbish alternative to something big and impressive, it’s better to think that if you weren’t doing this, you’d probably be doing nothing at all.”
See the next page for some DIY Nordic microadventures
Go with the flow