I love this guy! I share the same insatiable curiosity of what is around the next corner. “Change how you see the world”
See if you fit the profile…
“If you are too stresses, too busy, too broke or too tired for an adventure. Then you are the perfect candidate. You got yourself a mortgage and a lawnmower. Microadventures urges you to rediscover the rivers and sunsets you used to enjoy. Its a book that gives you a permission to regain a childlike enjoyment of wild places”
Today’s podcast interview is with Adventurer of the Year, Alastair Humphreys. Meet Mr. Microadventure. He is a pioneer in the accessibility of adventure for EVERYONE. Yes he Alastair has cycled round the world for 4 years, raced a yacht across the Atlantic Ocean, canoed 500 miles down the Yukon River and walked the length of the holy Kaveri river in India.
But that isn’t what he is proposing that you do.
Outside Magazine said, “Alastair Humphreys blew up my can’t-do paradigm. Humphrey preaches the gospel of micro adventures, quick outings that offer something different, something exciting-but cheap, simple, short and on your doorstep.” Read what The New York Times had to say about about The Virtues of Microadventures.
Microadventures: a refresh button for busy lives.
What is a Microadventure?
(From Alastair Humphreys & www.microadventures.org)
Adventure is the spirit of trying something new, trying something difficult. It is about enthusiasm, ambition, open-mindedness and curiosity.
We all have to pragmatically juggle the commitments and constraints of our “real lives”. But we can still have a microadventure.
Getting out into the wild, if only for one night, is enjoyable, invigorating and important. Today’s podcasts explores the small, easily accessible, bursts of adventure that can happen right out our front door regardless of our fitness, discretionary income or large amounts of time away from home.
Podcast Highlights Microadventures:
- What was the lowest moment Alastair experienced during all his adventures
- Why stepping away from our real life gives us perspective when we return.
- How did Alastair transition from giant adventures like crossing Iceland to taking a walk on a full moon an hour from home?
- Understand why you don’t always need a sensible purpose for heading out on an adventure
- 5 pm to 9 am (sixteen hours) are a perfect window to have a Microadventure on a Wednesday night with some friends
- How to get started with Microadventures and why you don’t need to be in great shape, have a lot of time or experience to get started
What are the benefits of a Microadventure?
According to Alastair, “It still captures the essence of big adventures:
- The challenge
- The Fun
- The escapism
- The learning experiences
- The excitement
Examples of a Microadventure (Buy his book to get the full list)
- Enter a race
- Take a walk on a harvest moon
- Walking home for Christmas
- Catch it, Cook it, Eat it
- Swim in a river
- A credit card, a cell phone
- Build a wild hut
- Sleep on a hill
Adventure is a state of mind
“A spirit of trying something new and leaving your comfort zone. It’s about enthusiasm, ambition, open-mindedness and curiosity”
“I do it because it’s fun. I do it because it is miserable and difficult, but also because it is easier in many ways than the complicated confusion and stress and hassle of modern life”.
Alastair Humphreys: The notion of micro adventure is about beginning rather than waiting for the perfect time or waiting to be fit miraculously or waiting to be rich. It's just about beginning now doing what you can do right now to get yourself in motion, overcome the inertia and just start to, to build up momentum. And I think that's key for us to try and do whatever, whatever it is we’re trying to tackle in life.
Aaron McHugh: Welcome to the work life play podcast. I’m Aaron McHugh, your host. Friends. I want to issue a challenge today that after listening to today’s podcast, I'll want you to pick a park, uh, pick a space on the map, pick a museum you've never gone to. Pick a train stop you've never gotten off on. Pick a dead end road that you've never driven. And I want you to go find a place that you've never been before that out your front door are adventures awaiting and discoveries awaiting that each of us have never done. And in today’s podcast you'll hear an invitation into micro adventures, small, tiny bursts of adventures that help change how we live, how we think about how we live and how we experience more joy, more happiness, more fulfillment, contentment, and adventure. All right, good luck.
Aaron McHugh: Okay. Welcome to the work-life play podcast. Episode number 38. today on driving down the road in my daughter and I's new adventure mobile, which is fitting for today's intro for the podcast. We bought a 1974 VW micro bus. So I'm actually driving it down to the mechanic right now to have him take a look at it. We picked it up in Portland, Oregon last week and drove it 1300 miles back to Colorado. So I'll look forward to telling you that whole story in an upcoming podcast. But for today, I thought it would be fitting to introduce Alastair Humphreys and his concept of micro adventures, but do it while I'm cruising down the road in our new micro adventure mobile.
So what's really fun is Alastair lives in London. He's been awarded the national geographic adventure of the year award, I think is in 2012. The guy's bicycled across the entire near planet. Some 48,000 miles. He's been to the one of the polls, maybe both of the polls, the guy's just, he's done everything on the list of adventures you can imagine and extreme. And yet in his book, micro adventures, which is what he and I ended up talking about in today's podcast. He's offering this idea of adventure, accessibility for the every man that you don't need big budgets. You don't need athleticism. You don't need lots of time away from work. You don't need to have been on adventures before that right out our front door is accessible for us to go find everything from one of the suggestions he makes is in this micro adventures book is about taking a harvest moon walk like a full moon walk at night. Um, in his case, take the train to a village or a town that you've not been to before and get out and take a nice walk and then get back on the train and go home.
And so his premise is, which I love, is inviting us to a life of adventure. And the benefits of adventure is that we learn things about ourselves. We learn things about what we can do, and we learn strength and courage and bravery, and we learn to be uncomfortable and feel comfortable with the discomfort. So all these things that adventure benefits us with can oftentimes, first of all, some people just choose never to pursue adventure because they pursue comfort instead, which means that they never actually are stretched, which means growth in those areas of their life never comes. But in these bursts of small micro adventures, you get the benefits of being on an extended adventure in much more frequent doses. And so it may only be two hours.
So myself, I've been going on these micro adventures last couple of months and following Alastair’s lead, go and sleep on a Hill, go find a Hill and go sleep on the top of it. So I did that maybe a few miles from the house, picked a place on the map and said, all right, Soldier mountain, I'm going to go sleep on that tonight. So I did, I walked in by headlamp, by myself one night, um, found a tree on a ridge to sleep under, woke up at 6:30, got back, you know, to the car. I was home by nine. So he talks a lot about those kinds of small little bursts and the idea from 9:00 PM or 5:00 PM after work to 9:00 AM the following morning, we have these 16 hours that we can use to go pursue adventurous living. So he has some great videos online. You want to check out on his YouTube channel and you know, he'll go and pick up some friends of his, they'll go grab a bike and just peddle and go sleep in, in our case here in the national national forest type environment or a campground or whatever it may be, you can find outside of your city.
And what's really great too, is he shows how accessible it is to people who live in the city that most people who live in big cities, there's mass transportation. And so within an hour’s train ride, you can be outside of your city center and finding some beautiful places that you've never seen before and making an excuse to actually just go pursue adventurous living. So I really hope that you feel invited into this concept of micro adventures and the accessibility of micro adventures. And it's not dependent on being uber athletic. It's not dependent on having two weeks off of work. It's not dependent on having every piece of gear you ever dreamed of. It's not dependent on having lots of experience. He even talks about how going to the pub to eat dinner and grab a beer before you go tent camp it out, or in his case, Bibi's is what they'd actually do, which is like a, a tube that you stick your sleeping bag in that gives you shelter.
So I think you're going to really enjoy it. I think this guy is phenomenal and consider him a brother from another mother, um, with an adventurous spirit and just the insatiable curiosity. And I'm excited as I'm driving our new micro adventure bus of all the places we're going to get a chance to go and has some, uh, like camper style seats in it where you can lay down and sleep in it. I've got my pocket, rocket joy bucket stove already ready for bursts of small adventure. And after I get a tune-up on it today, it'll be even better. All right. Will you guys enjoy, please go find someplace you've never been before. That's within five to 10 to 20 miles of your home. Um, and just see what happens. Take a friend, take your kid, take your wife, go by yourself. Um, but this is the ability for us to remove excuses from our list of why we can't go out and have more adventurous life.
Work-life play podcasts listeners. I'm excited for my guest today. And I got fired up when I was a outside magazine article a couple months ago. And there was this, I think it was a happy and healthy and it was like 25 ways to be happy. And one of them was about this micro adventures and how they amp up your mood. And it was an article about this guy that we have on our podcast today. Good morning, Alastair. Um, and we're going to have a chance to hear about what is it look like to go on micro adventures? And we're going to be able to hear about it from someone who's been on some mega mega adventures. So good morning, good afternoon, Alastair. Welcome to the podcast.
Alastair Humphreys: Thank you for having me.
Aaron McHugh:Yeah, really excited. So what I'd like to do is if you could just kind of give us your little bio, you know, of, here's who I am and what I do, here's where I'm living. Here's where we're calling in from. And we'll just kind of start with that and get our conversation going.
Alastair Humphreys: Sure. So my name's Alastair Humphreys, I'm a British adventurer author blogger. I'm trying to become a filmmaker. I'm calling you from my shed where I write my books on a gray wet London afternoon.
Aaron McHugh: Brilliant. So tell us about if I remember reading your bio. One of the things that captured me was not only have you done these great adventures, which we'll talk about today in the podcast, but you also didn't start until you were sometime in your early thirties. Is that right?
Alastair Humphreys: Early twenties.
Aaron McHugh: Early twenties. Okay. So tell us about that, that there was some, basically it wasn't like you'd been traveling for all your life. It was that all of a sudden one day, this began in your early twenties.
Alastair Humphreys: Yeah. I had a very normal upbringing. I grew up in the countryside, so I enjoyed playing outside and riding my bike, but it was pretty normal. Um, my family is very normal. Uh, I was unarmed very normal, so I wasn't some sort of dare devil, adventurous kid, never really had any inkling or inclination for adventures until I became a, a university student and spent half my time reading travel and adventure and expedition books and started just to dream of going off and exploring the world.
And I guess, I guess a lot of young people who are in their early twenties dream of traveling the world, but I wanted to do it in a way that was a bit more different and difficult than going backpacking. I wanted to do something physically challenging and I wanted to do something that was going to be really long. And in order for it to be long, it had to be cheap. So I needed some cheap way of traveling and all those things combined. And I came up the idea of trying to ride my bike right the way around the world. So that's what I set off to do. Uh, once I, once I graduated when I was 24 years old.
Aaron McHugh: Yeah. So tell us about that. I looked at a number of your YouTube channel videos and watched one of those about your adventure on your bike. And it was four years long. Is that right?
Alastair Humphreys:It was Four years long. If you see a YouTube video about that, it must've been terrible, terrible videos. I was definitely not into film photography or anything back then. I just wanted to go have an adventure just for the sheer of it, which I think is the best reason to go on an adventure. Um, I cycled for four years, I rode 46,000 miles through 60 countries. So I started from my home in England. I cycled through Europe and the middle East to Africa all the way to South Africa that I crossed the Atlantic on a sailing boat and pedaled from the Southern tip of Patagonia, right the way up the West coast to Northern Alaska. And then I crossed over the Pacific to Siberia and cycle through Russia, down Japan, all the way across Asia, back home again to England and the end.
Aaron McHugh: Unbelievable. So do you find, even in providing a description, I've spent a lot of time on a bike, but even that's, it's hard for me to get my head around how far and how long that is. So, so tell us, how, what did you find when you came back from a four year adventure in, was most of that solo, for instance, when you, when you were doing that?
Alastair Humphreys: Yeah, most of it was solo. A few friends joined me for bits here and there, and I bumped into some random cyclists here and there and rode with them for a bit. But the majority of it was so low, um, in terms of trying to make people understand what it's like, I, people often come up to me and they say things like, Oh, I did a, I did a trip once. It was nothing like yours may say they did a week's bike trip or two weeks, or even a few weeks on a bike. And I always say to them, if you've done that, you know exactly what it's like to cycle around the world. Anyone who's ridden a bike a long way, put up a tent and then carried on writing the next day knows what it's like to cycle around the world. You just have to keep doing that same thing for four years.
Aaron McHugh: Over and over and over. Yeah. Well, I find that as I watched your videos and have been reading your micro adventures book, I would say is a rare quality of a professional adventure. So I've met and spent lots of time with professional athletes and adventures and mountaineers and all the, all the like, and triathletes. So not everybody feels that way. Um, that there's a, Hey, I, I accomplished big things, you do small things.
So I think that that's an interesting invitation that you consistently offer in your writing and in the things that I've seen from you is that, Hey, if you've done it for two weeks or a week or two days, you know what it's like now you have to keep that going for four years and that's a big difference. But however, it does kind of level the playing field where you're not coming from an elevated position, which I really appreciate that a lot.
Alastair Humphreys: I remember very vividly about two miles into my attempted bike ride around the world, feeling a bit tired and feeling quite sad and a bit lonely and quite scared. And just thinking this is so different to all these heroic adventurers I've read about in their books. And right there, I can remember exactly what it was. I decided that when I wrote my first ever blog post, that I was just going to say, I'm a bit tired and a bit sad and just be really honest and right from the very start I decided to be honest.
And I genuinely, I'm not an athlete. I'm genuinely not a tough guy. I get very lazy. I get really scared doing stuff. I just, I'm quite driven with myself to make myself do this sort of stuff, but I'm definitely not in any dimension, some sort of Superman. And I think, I mean, I love talking to athletes and elite people, um, and you can learn a lot from them, but I think it's also interesting to come at things from your points of view of just emphasizing that you are the same as absolutely everyone else who might be reading your books or hearing you talk.
Aaron McHugh: Yeah. That's I really like that a lot too. Is it just what I, what I love about doing this podcast, having conversations like this one is that same thing of really just saying, no, this is accessible by all of us. And as you say in your writing of you don't have to be a super athlete. You don't have to love pain and suffering. You don't have to have done this before. You don't have to live in a lovely place. Like you just kind of go down the list of what I would say are prohibiting excuses that most of us would put up as a list of disqualifiers, why micro adventures or any kind of adventure is not for us. So I really think that's a brilliant way to make it way more accessible than just the elite of the elite of the planet.
Alastair Humphreys: Good, I’m glad to hear that. I hear from a lot of people who dream of doing adventures and unsure some for some people doing an adventure is genuinely more difficult than for me. You do need time and some money and some good health and various other things I'm very fortunate to have.
However, the vast majority of people who say, Oh, I can't go on an adventure are actually just making excuses. They might not think they are, but that's really what they are doing. And so my micro adventure stuff is deliberately smaller adventures where my attempt to get past the excuses to get to an adventure that was so simple, that there was no longer any possible reason not to do it, except for you to honestly say to yourself, I can't be bothered. And once there are no excuses, then you just have to go and do it really.
Aaron McHugh: That’s brilliant. So why don't we do this then? Why don't you give us a definition of what is adventure in, in your own words? And then we'll go into then the micro adventures and then kind of break those down and talk about what they actually are and what that means.
Alastair Humphreys: Well, I've been deliberately very broad in my adventuring life as to what adventure is. So adventure ranges from travel and backpacking that certainly adventurous, right the way through journeys by bike or on foot, all the way up to expedition type stuff, dragging polar sledges around climbing big mountains. All of those things are adventurous, but so too is living adventurously. Just the spirit of it. Even if you don't like walking across deserts, just doing stuff that's new and different and difficult, and being willing to scare yourself a bit and doing things with enthusiasm and curiosity, and just willing to give stuff a try.
And all of those things, I think fit under the umbrella of trying to live adventurously. And then from that comes Microadventures. I I've been doing quite a few big adventures for quite a few years. And then the micro adventures was my attempt to do stuff that was deliberately really, really small in order that anyone could do this sort of stuff, but keeping it, keeping the core principles in there. So trying to make it micro adventures, smaller, simpler version of adventure, but in no way, a worst thing. So the key thing of getting out to the wilderness, doing stuff that's new and different, all of that has to remain, I think, in a good micro adventure.
Aaron McHugh:Yeah. Loving your book. Alastair, you say adventure is a state of mind, a spirit of trying something new and leaving your comfort zone. It's about enthusiasm, ambition open-mindedness and curiosity. And I think that that all of a sudden just is like, well, why I'm curious, um, I'm open-minded I could be enthusiastic, but you don't mention anything in there, again, going back to, well, you have to have done, you know, 6,400 other nights out and you have to, you know, weigh this much, be this tall, you know, live in this place that you really do. Just remove all of that.
So my hope is, is that listeners will hear okay if you're in New York city, if you're in Chicago, if you're in London, if you're in Glasgow, wherever you are that you're hearing this, this is for you just as much as it's for, for Alastair and I, and what, what I want you to talk through a little bit more too, is talk about how you started in your home country and made that an objective too. Like you said, keeping it close, simple and small, but what also that meant for you for the course of the year when you were actually flushing these, these stories out.
Alastair Humphreys: So I decided to try and spend a whole year exploring my country Britain and trying to do small little adventures around Britain to try to encourage other people to do the same. And I started trying to come up with ideas for micro adventures that were location independent. And I mean, by that, that it's stuff you can do wherever you happen to live. So it’s ideas for anyone that they can just transfer it to their own particular circumstances.
My first thought, when I began it, I was worried about two things. One, I was worried that my blog audience wouldn't really care because what they liked hearing from me was about rowing across oceans and misery and all that sorts of big stuff. So I was worried about that. And from my point of view, I was worried that exploring Britain, which is famously crowded and not very wild, I was worried that that would be boring for me compared to the big stuff I've been doing, which I'd be getting my thrills out of and to my surprise and delight, I was wrong on both counts.
Aaron McHugh:Yeah, that's really brilliant. So here you were four year journeys, deserts, oceans, bicycling 46,000 miles. And then, okay. By the way, I'm going to stay close to home on my home country. And I'm going to walk out my front door. I'm going to hop on a train.
So say a little bit about like your one day adventure. Say a little bit about, I wrote down one of my favorite ones too, was about, um, you're walking home on Christmas. And so talk about what now, when you net it down to this close to home, simple, short, very effective micro adventure that really doesn't necessarily have to involve suffering. Like you talked about even going to pubs. So say more about how you really made this a walk out your door today at, at 5:00 PM and come back to work at 9:00 AM tomorrow.
Alastair Humphreys: Okay. So I, I look quite a lot of the things that I've been doing are aimed at urban audience on the basis that if you already live in the mountains of Scotland, then you should not need me to tell you to go into bike ride and go run up a Hill. So, yeah, so this is so really I was aiming at people who live in towns or suburbia and trying to show to them that the wilderness is closer than you think. Um, even in Britain, which is very crowded, even in the very center of London, this massive city, nobody is more than 15 miles in a straight line from the countryside. So I started trying to find ways to show how easy it is to get there.
And there's a couple of ways you can do it. You can just jump on a train after work and within one hour you will be somewhere with green fields and trees and rivers that you've never been. And you'll be able to find wilderness and beauty and peace and tranquility. The other thing is you turn it into a bit of a game, a bit of a challenge, a bit of an adventure, and you get on a bike outside your front door, or you get on the bike outside your office with your work colleagues and you just paddle for a couple of hours until you reach these trees and fields.
And I think in order to persuade someone to do this sort of stuff, you need some sort of goal. And I think the end goal of adventures, the only reason it matters is because it takes you on a journey to get to that point. The actual end of trips is usually quite an anticlimax and the interesting stuff is getting there. I think that the best example I can give to simply explain the notion of micro adventures is trying to get people who are bogged down with a nine to five life thinking they're very busy with a nine to five to stop seeing the constraints in the life and to flip it around and look for the opportunities and an obvious way to do that is instead of fretting up the nine to five, flip it around and think about the five to nine, what you do, what you do with those 16 hours every day when you are not working.
And I've been trying to show that you can have an adventure in that time by heading out of a city, climbing a Hill by yourself, with your friends, with your family, whatever, sleeping out under the stars for night, heading back to work ready for nine o'clock the next morning, you've got a lot of benefits and adventure they're squashed into the middle of a normal busy working week.
Aaron McHugh: Yeah that’s great. So on the YouTube channel, you have some great videos there as well. So for those of you that are listening, definitely for sitting at your desk or you're out for a run right now, um, you definitely want to come back type in, um, Alastair Humphreys in UTV, subscribe to his channel because he's got a great video, a couple of them actually, where you do exactly that you hop a train. I think you took three or four of your friends with you. I think he even showed up, which was great, you know, at their office, um, you know, showed them, you know, sitting in their cubicles and then everybody goes in weather throws on their bike kit and you guys go peddle for, you know, like you said, an hour or two, hit the pub and then head off to the woods and sleep for the evening, wake up what you're up early 6:00 AM. And you peddle back.
And it was really just, what I loved about is the simplicity of it. And really you talk a lot about like, you don't, don't bring too much stuff, don't bring a tent, don't bring a stove, like just make it easy so you can repeatedly do it. And I just think it really does erode these lists of disqualifiers that people have because at the end of the day, and this is what I firmly believe with you, as you say that a venture actually can change the way we see the world, that it actually changes something in us that enables for us to engage the world we live in differently and better because of what we learn when we get away from our urban model.
Alastair Humphreys:Yeah. And I hope these things will be, uh, of benefit and enjoyment, even to people who don't consider themselves adventurous. And even to people who really would not want to go on a two week hike and a two week camping trip, I'm hoping that micro adventures can reach to a wider community of people who just want to do something a bit different to shake up their lives and just take a little different perspective on things. And I, I genuinely think that as long as it doesn't rain and is miserable, I think that nearly everyone would enjoy it benefit from one night away from the city away from their computers, having a simple, quiet nights under the stars on the Hill.
Aaron McHugh: Yeah. Let me give you a couple stories about how I've taken your premise of micro adventures and then been living them out. So one of them is, and I was doing some notes this morning, kind of getting ready for this. And I was realizing, Oh, you know what? One of the things I've done many times and actually did it in your home city, there in London was all leave. So I would travel a lot for my day job and it would end up putting me whether it was Chicago or New York or London or wherever. Um, and what I found was if I left the hotel room and took my cell phone and a credit card, and then I always have like a road ID. So in case somebody put me in a ditch, they know who to call, and then I just go and just run wherever. I feel like running without feeling the pressure of paying attention to how to get back. And then what I've done is then as long as I can find a tube, stop train station subway, then I just ride my way back.
And so what's been really nice is that I can just meander my way through a city, knowing that the public transportation will get me home eventually, whenever I'm done, but that, it just kind of takes that pressure off of, I need to know where I am. I need to remember how to get back. And then it really allows me to just be present in the moment and explore and just keep going until I'm tired or keep going until, you know, I feel like it's getting too dark or unsafe, whatever it is, but I found that's a really great way to have what I would term a micro adventure in, you know, two hours or less in a brand new place that you've never been before.
Alastair Humphreys: I think that's a brilliant idea. And particularly for anyone who travels to other countries for work and you end up staying in one of those amazingly boring international hotels, that will look exactly the same everywhere in the world. And whenever I get to one of those, I always do similar. I put on my trainers, I just run. First thing I do, and I arrive and you just immediately feel excited to be in a new country rather than just yet another boring hotel.
Aaron McHugh: Right. So instead of sitting there and fired up Netflix or your email or this or that, I've just found that it's like, that is a way that I can reclaim, especially some of that business travel that does doesn't always feel adventurous or life-giving. I talked with a friend yesterday, he was over in Spain and he was actually works in professional cycling.
And he said, you know, I had a cup of coffee and took a picture of, of being out at this cafe and you know, people, Oh, you have such a great life. He's like, no, you don't realize I was in the hotel. It was in the conference room and I was in an airport, but these micro adventures can change that where those aren't the only three environments that you sit in your for, including a coffee shop, but actually being out and actually seeing it. So I did the same in Glasgow, uh, back in may. And just like I said, landed, dropped my, changed into my clothes and went for a 10 mile run and then found my meandered my way home, you know, a couple hours later.
Alastair Humphreys:That’s brilliant. I did a talk in a Beijing couple of years ago too. Uh, and then it wasn't so Chinese audiences, an international audience in a fancy hotel. And I was talking about cycling around the world and all that sort of stuff of sleeping wild and things. And now I was a bit cheeky work for my China parts of the talk. I actually sneaked in a couple of pictures that I'd taken that morning in Beijing of all the sort of crazy food that you can find there of fried scorpions and things like that. And I put that picture up and everyone was sort of like, wow, well, that's amazing. That's crazy. And then I told him, this was taken 10 minutes from the hotel.
Aaron McHugh: Great. This is in your backyard and you didn't know it.
Alastair Humphreys: Exactly.
Aaron McHugh: Love it. Well, the other thing I've been doing is, so I've lived in, uh, Colorado here for 21 years in Colorado Springs, uh, surrounded by mountains. Beautiful, wonderful. And I've spent a lot of time outdoors, but I haven't taken this approach that this invitation of micro adventures of find something new and try it go someplace. You've never been before, because like you said, in a lot of your blogs and videos is that we can kind of get, uh, in a malaise of just apathy of whatever our normal is that we're used to seeing. But if I've never actually gone to some of these parks or trails, so this big, giant atlas map, it's a topographic map.
And what I've decided to do is every week, a one to three times, I pick a new spot on the map I've never been to and go, as far as I can go with, I've got two hours or I've got 30 minutes, so I've got five hours and then I've been going through and then marking the map, drop in my, uh, coordinates on my turnaround point. I'm snapping a photo and then just doing a #microadventures. Um, and then sending it out over social media, just as a invitation of like, look, you know, here, I'm into nine of them. I think now over the last couple of weeks, they're brand new places I've never been, and they're brilliant. And they're, they've been outside my door for 21 years and I'd never been to any of them.
Alastair Humphreys: Well, yeah, this one of my, uh, it's just amazing how many things close to where you are. You've never seen before. And if you, if you go as a fairly decent definition of exploring and being an Explorer is going where either no one has ever been before, but going where you've never been before then that is exploring. And that can, I think all of us could do that within two miles of where we are right now.
Aaron McHugh: Yeah, absolutely. So I'll start, I'd like to ask you about back to the topic of how adventure changes us, um, on these adventures, whether small or enormous that you've been on. I'd love it. If you could just pick one and tell us about a really like a low moment in, in an experience what that low moment was like, where you were, what was on, why it was such a low moment, and then what happened? What did it actually teach you? What changed? And then what, how did you carry that back to your real life after that low moment on whichever adventure?
Alastair Humphreys:Um, well, if I'm looking for a low moment, I'd probably choose something from when I rode across the Atlantic ocean in a little rowing boat with three other guys, um, it was 45 days at sea 3000 miles. And I had a lot of low moments in that. Um, you row for two hours at a time, then you rest for two hours and this goes on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So it's relentless and grueling and utterly exhausting. And at times pretty terrifying. And I felt at my lowest point that I just felt so trapped in this horrible little room in the middle of a massive terrifying ocean. That sounds terrible. Yeah, just eating disgusting food and not getting enough sleep and being permanently seasick and having massive blisters on my buttocks and just really, really hating that experience so much. And I got through that and I cheered up, as you, as humans tend to do, you can get used to anything.
And what I really realized on that trip was the, was a nice opportunity and this was perhaps the extreme way of doing it, but just stepping away from my life for a while, stepping away from the normality of my life, and then getting a perspective on how much I treasure some aspects of that. Um, helping me realize what things I was really looking forward to about home and getting on with future things. But also I think what was interesting was that it was a chance for me to focus on all the things in my normal life, that I was actually quite relieved to be away from people who suck my energy or cause me, I grow the things I do that waste my time. It don't bring any benefits and just that Twaddle in my life that just wastes my time and energy. And it was really nice to be able to leave a lot behind because all I was doing now for 45 days in a row, and to just try and remind myself that when I came home, I should not only do the stuff I like.
Of course that's a good thing to do, but also try and make more effort to stop doing the stuff that doesn't benefit my life will benefit other people. And as I, as I did the, I suppose the happy conclusion to that story was it's amazing what you can get used to you. And after 45 days, we were all very used to the sleep deprivation. We were like little monkeys running around that boat, feeling very safe and comfortable, Alison an entirely new environment. And I've never laughed more in my whole life than I did on that boat with those guys. But there was some dark days early on dark days.
Aaron McHugh: Well, this summer, I did a trip of a lifetime that I dreamed about for a very long time. I, with 12 other guys, we mountain bikes. So you've probably heard of the Colorado trail that that is a, like a, um, through, through trail similar to like a Pacific crest trail or, um, so it's basically, it's just about 500 miles or so, but it's all, um, high altitude. So it, the average altitude, it runs out is a little over 10,000 feet. Wow. So really high and in the, in the remote mountains of Colorado. And so you end up a couple of days, you end up going over 13,000 feet, literally, you know, carrying your mountain bike to the summit and down and just really crazy insane back country travel. And it was a two week trip.
And what I found that same, it was interesting when you talked about your bike trip, when it began and you're two miles in and you're already tired and lonely, um, you know, in my case, it wasn't like lonely, but I remember thinking, Oh my gosh, I hope I can do this. What, what we're about to cause basically you're going to bite off about 45 miles a day of off train, or, you know, he calls single track, mountain biking trails and then about 7,000 feet a day of climbing, um, hearing your crazy high altitudes. And so I just thought, man, I don't know that I can do this, but what I found, like you said, in the blisters set in and the sore muscles and the early on, you know, I didn't feel like we were in a rhythm and you just, we just showed up at camp at night. We were just gas. We'd been on the bikes for eight to 12 hours a day. And, but then about day five or so day six, you started kind of getting a simplicity to life. And like you were describing where, what was really nice is I just, my only job was to ride my bike. I didn't have to deal with all the other stuff back at home or whether it was people or relationships or bills or mowing the lawn, which by the way, I loved your joke about that in your micro adventure book, you got a mortgage and a lawn mower, but I just found, I was like, man, this is really, really good that my only job is to live my life right now. There's nothing else I have to do.
And what I think, what I learned with that is it did give me the ability like you just described to get outside of my life and look back in on it and give me some perspective and observation and really do an assessment of like, do I really want to do that? Do I really want to be friends with this person? Do I really want to work at that place? Do I really want to live here? Do I really want to live that way? And it really helped me gain a better clarity. And it was through moments of suffering and low moments of like, man, this is rough. I'd much rather be having a beer right now than doing this at four o'clock in the afternoon.
But I realize it really was a life-changing two-week trip. Um, and the accomplishment of it in the camaraderie and the friendship and all that stuff. Um, but I will say too, it's helped me be more adventurous now coming home because what I saw out there I realized is more available, which is why I've been so stoked about being able to share the story about micro adventures. Because what I learned on a big adventure, I can now apply regularly every other day. If I can get out for an hour or two and go see something brand new that I've never seen before.
Alastair Humphreys: Okay. I think that what you just said about trying to, um, how it can, how it can change your life is one of the things I've been trying to emphasize about micro adventures. The notion of just, just going away for one night, sleeping on a Hill for one night, turning off your phone for one night that can have a, a far greater positive impact on, on your life and your perspective than, than the cost of one night away. So, um, I think just getting these, I think a lot of people would like the idea of going to have a cabin in Alaska for six months. They can figure their life out, but most people probably won't actually do that. And therefore, better than doing nothing. It's just to go for for one night, one night of peace and quiet and Hilltop. And it's a star, I guess, things in motion.
Aaron McHugh: And let me read off a couple additional just categories of things that you talk about in your micro adventure book is so one of them was, um, under a harvest moon. And I really love this one where basically what Alastair outlines is, there's these lunar cycles of the moon that ended up being brilliant to watch. And it not even being a night away, but just a night out where in his case, he talked about grabbing a train, going outside the city where you can get away from the city lights, watch this big moon hit a pub and whatever nine, 10 o'clock at night, get back on the train and go home. And so, but that in itself is an adventure.
Another one he talks about is just the, um, this idea of walking home for Christmas, which I just love is like either walk to where you're headed for Christmas or Thanksgiving is we're, we're about to head into, um, here in the States, um, or walk home from like, what a, what a brilliant, like, how great is that? So I've done a run on new year's Eve evening, a number of times at midnight, where everybody's out in their houses, you know, doing their parties and cheers or whatever, but I've been out kind of window staring in their windows as you run by. And it's this brilliant, like kind of cool to see from an outsider, looking in view of people, enjoying their friends, but here I am outside with snow on the ground and you know, it's whatever 22 degrees and a buddy and just experiencing something different.
Alastair Humphreys: I think the notion of walking home for Christmas or Thanksgiving, which I guess wouldn't really work if you live in New York and you've got to get into San Francisco, but for on a local level is doing something small like that. Whether it's going for a run or something, just doing something that's a bit difficult and a bit of discomfort and is slow. And then the end, the satisfaction is further down the line. All of these things help you anticipate the finish and they make you work hard for it. And therefore, therefore, when you get there, you've earned it and you get extra satisfied, you feel extra proud to have done it. You feel extra happy to be home for Christmas.
So things that are slow and difficult and involve a bit of effort to earn the reward. I think you're all all worth grabbing with both hands. And then the, uh, the harvest moon one just going through full moon walk is a really good way of helping us learn to look at the familiar with fresh eyes. And instead of just thinking that where we live is boring or that our lives are boring, trying to see it with new eyes and look for new opportunities and look more positively and try and seek out the adventure wherever we happen to live. So that was, that was my aim with the full moon walk.
Aaron McHugh: Yeah, that's brilliant. Well, I really, really love this and I, I feel invigorated, you know, having done big adventures, but, but realizing how hard those are to come by. Like you said, it's time, it's money, it's training it's kits. It's just so they're, they're hard to pull off and, but this micro adventures are not. And so again, wherever you live, wherever you're listening to this, there is something outside your front door that you've never seen before. And it could be as simple as a few hours. It could be as simple as a mid day walk. You don't have to be in phenomenal shape. You don't have to wait until you're in great shape. You don't, as you even say, Alastair, in your book about you could be a disabled adult.
You know, these are not, these are really accessible things and that the intention is we're changing up the way we live our life. As Alastair said, living more adventurously actually does breed these things of enthusiasm and optimism and hope and possibility. So I really believe that adventure transforms what our life looks like and who we become, which also then changes the trajectory to get us closer to. As I write about a lot in, in blogging podcast about, is doing work, that we love living the life we want to live and playing a whole lot more than, than we would otherwise. So I've really believed that adventure is at the core of helping improve that the, of all of those other categories becoming what we actually desire them.
Alastair Humphreys: Yeah, I agree entirely. And I think one thing I'd add to that, um, cause I think most people can appreciate that adventure can lead to benefits in our life, um, in a wider sense, but the notion of micro adventure is about beginning. So rather than waiting for the perfect time or waiting to be fit miraculously or waiting to be rich, it's just about beginning now doing what you can do right now to get yourself in motion, overcome the inertia and just start to, to build up momentum. And I think that's key for us to try and do whatever, whatever it is, which on a tackle in life.
Aaron McHugh: So what's that like for you to be my guess is fame wasn't necessarily the objective or some notoriety. So what's that like for you now that you got people who actually want to talk to you and pulling on your coattails a little bit to say, Hey, like, like even this podcast, like, Hey, can you spend 30 minutes with us and tell us your story? Is that how's that working for your plan?
Alastair Humphreys:Well, yeah, I certainly never wanted fame and I still would not want fame. And yet trying to make my career as a self-employed adventurer requires a lot of effort with self self promotion. So I've got used to doing stuff now as part of my job. Um, and I'm entirely happy to show off about myself on the internet or on podcasts, things like that. But if ever occasionally very occasionally now people recognize me face-to-face and I absolutely hate that with a passion so much so that the first time it happens, I denied that I was me, which was then just really awkward. So I see it, I see it as a necessary part of the job. Really.
Aaron McHugh: Yeah. Well, I, I do think it's, uh, most other categories of people that I interact with for, you know, they're writers or, you know, the Ted talks or the New York times column us or whatever. Um, they're more, I'd say generally more comfortable, but adventures I find is really interesting because most adventures really like their alone time. You know, they really like, you know, introspectively, you know, spending time by themselves, out for days or weeks or months or years on end. And so the complication of then having to be with people and speaking gigs and book signings and all this other stuff I find is usually pretty, uh, the antithesis of what they were aiming at actually.
Alastair Humphreys: Yeah, it is. But, but equally I think within all of all adventures to greater or lesser degree, there's you want the affirmation of your success. So it's nice to, when people tell you you've done cool stuff. And so there's certainly that aspect of it.
Aaron McHugh: Closing credits. I want to make sure you guys no about keynote content. So I hear from a handful of you guys every month about podcasts that you're standing up or blogs that you're doing, or, um, in business, uh, you know, content creation stuff that you're doing, whether it's for a speech or for a book that you're writing.
And I can't say enough about my work with Jon Cook over keynote content. So I'd recommend give him a ring, hear what he's got going on. And if he's got time for you, um, he does quite a bit of content development for people like me in the professional world. And I can't even begin to tell you how much better the, his Polish is on my work than if I was stuck doing it on my own. And I was for a long time. Um, but the level of professionalism in my ‘A’ game has gone up significantly after working with Jon. So it's Jon@keynotecontent.com, check it out and I promise to help. All right, good luck.
Friends, I hope you'll accept my invitation to do your best work, to live the life you want to live and play a whole lot more. If you thought this was fun and you'd like some more visit worklifeplaypodcast.com.
*We’ve done our best for this transcription to accurately reflect the conversation. Errors are possible. Thank you for your patience and grace if you find errors that our team missed.
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