Most Americans have a clichéd notion of what the typical travel destination should be like: exotic beaches, historical cities, famous landmarks and so on. Yet British novelist, National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and former world traveler Alastair Humphreys is moving toward a different type of vacation – one that can be found right in your back yard.
Humphreys preaches the idea of the “microadventure,” or an adventure that an everyday individual can experience without the cost and time required for a larger vacation. These microadventures are not only a good way to get out of the house and discover new locations close to home, but are also a great way to relieve stress and spend more time with family and friends.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Humphreys emphasizes the amount of work that many Americans put themselves through and the belief that Americans need to get away far away in order to cure the woes of the nine-to-five life.
“But Americans, perhaps even more than Brits, need to get out of the office because they work so many hours. Plus, America has so much empty space and beauty,” he said. Humphreys definitely has a point: we Americans tend to devalue the land and nature that we have. One only has to look at Carleton College to see an outstanding example of what the state of Minnesota has to offer, considering that it boasts an 880-acre arboretum. This may sound crazy, but St. Olaf also has natural lands and students can even walk there by foot.
I believe that this new concept of the microadventure is important for us living in a culture that values the extravagant and exotic. Downsizing is the new fad, and America needs to hop on the bandwagon if it wants to keep up with the rest of the world. The grass may not be any greener on the other side, and it is important to recognize the vast beauty that we have access to in the Midwest.
Small adventures such as hiking, camping in the back yard or biking to a town you have never visited are the small steps needed to live a better life. Not only do these microadventures shine a new light on the idea of travel and vacation, but they also allow individuals to see their own cultures and experiences here in the Midwest in a much different perspective.
“I didn’t invent bike rides or sleeping out, but I think the hashtag #microadventure makes it look a little cooler, and seeing what other people are doing becomes inspiring,” Humphreys said.
Humphreys hits the nail on the head here: these adventures are not only accessible, but are also spreading around the country. They are a great way to spend time with family, friends and maybe even yourself along the way. So give up trying to book that dream vacation in Spain and head on out to your back yard. You may never know what you’ll find.
Cole Hatzky ’18 firstname.lastname@example.org is from Iowa City, Iowa. He majors in English.