Five To Thrive With Alastair Humphreys

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s profile of adventurer, author, and motivational speaker Alastair Humphreys.

Alastair Humphreys has biked around the world, hiked through the Empty Quarter Desert, rowed across the Atlantic, and done many other mind boggling feats.

But he wasn’t awarded the 2012 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year for any of those crazy accomplishments. He won the award for a yearlong effort doing Microadventures, short trips that usually aren’t more than sleeping on a hill for a night.

He never imagined winning a National Geographic award, especially for one as “small and silly” an idea as microadventuring. He started this effort in order to encourage other people to do adventurous things without having to do something extreme like bike around the world.

– 1 –

SB: So why Microadventures? And what are some success stories?
AH: When I began I didn’t know it was an idea that would be able to grow. It had some value to me but I wasn’t sure. I began it because there was a perception amongst people that adventuring was for adventurers and not for normal people. I had a feeling that you don’t need to spend four years going around the world to go on an adventure. So I started trying to do small, mundane local adventures to try and prove that point.

– 2 –

SB: What is the minimum required for a Microadventure (equipment, time, place)?
AH: I think you can do it in whatever time or constraints you have. If anything I say is not possible for you then you can step it down until you can do it. Generally it needs to be overnight. Being out away from your bed, away from your comfort, under the stars for one night is necessary to get a different perspective on your life if only for a short while. All you need is stuff to sleep out for a night. If you’ve never done it before then it could be in your back garden [backyard] if that’s your adventurous limit. A sleeping bag and a bottle of whiskey and you’re away. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
It’s really just a pause for people who are in real life. A woman called Anna McNuff (@AnnaMcNuff) in London spent seven weeks this summer sleeping on a random hill once a week with a group of random people she picked up from Twitter. She ended up taking about 60 people off to go sleep on a hill for a night.

– 3 –

SB: What’s a typical Microadventure?
AH: I started by trying to make Microadventures epic, but that tended to be too much for people so I distilled it down to something more simple. Hopefully it’s like an espresso, it’s small but it’s still got all of the power of a big cup of coffee. Heading out of town to somewhere you’ve never been, either on your own or with friends. Sleep out under the stars for one night. Ideally, jump in a river, that’s good for the soul, and then head back to town.

– 4 –

SB: What is it about going outside that is good for the soul?
AH: I think it’s a good thing to do regardless of whether you are in the least bit interested in the big adventures that we have been talking about. If you are the type of person who is going to set up your own coffee shop then something like this would be good to do. It gives you a little pause and takes you away from your real life physically and mentally for a short bit of time. It gives you a chance to pause, reflect, and get a bit of perspective on what you’re doing in your life.

– 5 –

SB: What makes a good spot?
AH: Different countries in the world have different individual issues, whether its bears or big guns, neither of which we have here. Ideally, go somewhere with permission or go somewhere where no one will find you. You want a decent view of the sunrise and sunset. Somewhere nice and flat so you get a comfortable sleep and somewhere where you feel safe. The perceived danger of being out in the wild is much bigger than the actual danger, which is one reason to do these things. If it’s something you feel uneasy doing, then get a bunch of friends to go with you. If you get to your spot at dusk and then you wake up and leave at sunrise, no one will be around and you’ll have the world to yourself at night.


Microadventures Alastair HumphreysFor more on Alastair check out his website and his books: Microadventures, Moods of Future Joys, The Boy Who Biked Around the World, There Are Other Rivers, The Lessons From The Road, and Thunder and Sunshine. He’s also made a movie Into the Empty Quarter and you can follow him on Twitter.


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