Have you ever been given advice that starts with: you need to appreciate the little things in life more? Have you ever followed that advice? I think of mini-adventures as the salt and pepper of life; a required ingredient throughout the day. Sometimes we cannot seem them, but we know they are there. Sometimes we need more of them, so we just add a bit on top. Sometimes we don’t need them at all, but it is nice to know they are still there just in case, stashed away in a cupboard in the form of plans and lists. Inspired by the words of thousands before me that have come into this life looking for meaning and writing about looking, I have chosen to follow a path of mini adventuring.
The conclusion? Exploration and childlike enjoyment can carry us through the darkest of moments.
This section, consists of mini-adventures (some more extensive than others) that hopefully will allow you to inject a sense of delight into those routine life scenarios. Every month I try to pick a different theme or challenge to explore, so I suggest you do the same!
The Idea Behind Mini Adventures
The idea behind mini-adventures is that you don’t have to travel far and wide to have new experiences. With this in mind I have put together this master list of mini-adventures that can hopefully inspire you to “travel” from within your house, city or country.
Do you have a suggestion for a different kind of mini-adventure? Leave me a comment or you can always get in touch with me through email here as well.
In previous years mini-adventures might have been just one way to supplement our travel addiction, but with lockdown in 2020 they could become the only way to explore our world.
Some countries have already opened up for international travel but you might not be ready to travel aboard yet. Or you might not be able to travel outside your country at all.
*Please keep in mind that depending on the travel and movement restrictions of each country not all of these will be suitable so make sure to follow guidelines for your country or region!
Explore Your Neighbourhood
When was the last time you walked down a new street in your neighbourhood? The easiest social distancing safe activity is also the one we missed the most while in total lockdown. It also makes for an excellent mini-adventure in general as it forces you to explore areas that are familiar to you through new eyes!
Discover the hidden gems of your area you have overlooked in the past and invite a friend for a social-distancing safe activity.
Read more: The last time I had a planned “Explore Your Neighbourhood” mini adventure was in February 2019 when I got my mother and sister and got lost around my new house.
You can also read about why I suggest doing “Free Walking Tours in Your City“.
Volunteer Somewhere Nearby
Farms, coffee shops, local charity shops. Giving back to the community makes us feel more connected to the place we live in and can also help boost your mood. Plus you might make new friends and find a new hobby at the same time.
Explore the Galaxy and the Stars Above
Grab the telescope in the house that is picking up dust or download an open source free App like Sky Map and see how fast you can become an amateur astronomer.
Camping In Your Backyard
Grab all your outdoor gear and have a camping getaway in your backyard. Bonus point if you can re-create the mood with a bonfire, marshmallows and guitar sing-along songs! Alternatively, you can find a location close to your city for an overnight hike or small trip and trial your hiking adventure meter!
Have a Netflix Watch Party
With the Netflix Watch Party all you need is the Chrome Extension and a group of friends on the same time zone to enjoy a movie night. It might not feel like the greatest adventure in the world but it is a fun and simple way to break out of routine, plus you get to sort of socialize with your friends!
You might not be able to get to Paris or London or Tokyo any time soon but you can still escape to your favourite city through art!
Here is a list of some of the most popular Travel Colouring Pages and Books for Adults to get you started!
Dine Somewhere New
One of the easiest ways to have a mini adventure is to dine out or if that brings to mind fancy establishments and the budget is low, hit a food truck or street vendor for food you haven’t had in a while.
Have a Cooking Class At Home
Yes, it is great when people prepare your food for you but there is also a certain kinda charm to learning how to make it yourself from scratch. Whether you want to learn how to make a curry, a crunchy Greek tzatziki to go with your wraps or make use of the herbs and spices that are gathering dust in your cupboard, a cooking class is for you. You can easily turn this into a family-friendly or group activity by inviting some friends so you can all fail or succeed together!
Try A New Sport
Exercise and adventure go together quite well and when it comes to choice, well, you have a lot of it! Starting from land you can have a go at solo or group activities like mountain biking, karate, volleyball or tennis. How about something to cool down? Swimming, canoeing, kayaking or surfing are all options!
Create a Vision Board
Nothing says “ready for my next adventure” like a plan of all the places or things you want to do. You can let your dreams go wild with pictures, ideas, quotes and exciting trip itineraries or things you want to do in your favourite destinations.
Go Ice-Cream Tasting
How can you turn ice-cream tasting into an adventure? Well, you can try and sample as many flavours in one day as possible or rank difference ice-cream shops in your area or even try to make some ice-cream at home. Let your inner child roam free!
Learn to Meditate
Meditation is an ancient practice that can relax and ground your busy day even if just for a few minutes. There are plenty of meditation apps that you can download and start practising straight away. Who knows, it might even become part of your new routine!
Rent a Boat and Explore the Seas
Another really fun idea for a weekend escape or even just a day is renting a boat and exploring some bays. Smaller engine boats for groups of 4-6 might not even require a commercial licence so it pays to ask around and see what is available. Grab a cooler box, some food and your swimsuit and you are ready for a day on the water.
Splurge With a Facial or Spa Day
When was the last time you treated yourself to something nice? When I think of spas, I think of luxury, health and rejuvenation. From weekend long escapes to quick pampering sessions at your local beauty salon you can’t go wrong with a hot stone massage or dip at a thermal pool.
You can find some of the best Spa and Wellness Destinations around Europe here.
Expand Your Social Circle
There are many ways to meet different people or reconnect with a friend you have been meaning to catch up for coffee for the last 6 months. If all else fails, browse through your local Facebook events or head to Meet up and join a free event with people that share similar interests.
Start a Photography Project
Photography is about art, expression, creation and perspective. It forces you to look at the world through a lens and reorganize in it bits and pieces that appeal most to you. There are many ways to turn your everyday commute or walk into an opportunity to create something unique. Pick a window, view or area of your city or house you love to photograph and take pictures of it during different times of the day for a fun and interesting photography project.
Pick a Lucky Route
Set out of your house and bring a coin. Flip the coin every time you need to pick whether you go left or right.
Have a Music Themed Excursion
Find out where you are going to be hanging out next through music alone.
Pick a genre and find the establishments in your area that cater to your music taste. Can’t find anything? How about looking at the song lyrics of some local artists and visiting the places they mention in the songs?
Find Areas That Share a Name With Your Favourite Cities
Did you know the United States has more than 20 areas that are called Athens? Even if you can’t make it to the Parthenon or tour the quirky streets of the Greek capital you can have some fun tracing down how these cities got their names.
Here is a list with more than 200 cities in the US that have Greek names to get you started.
Have a Google Earth or Street View Tour
No need for flights or long layovers. You can have a virtual tour of Venice, Buenos Aires or the Remarkables in Queenstown within moments of opening your laptop!
Go Foraging For Your Dinner
Foraging can be a fun, and educational experience and a great way of exploring the natural world and local plant varieties. If you can, find a mentor that can teach you more about edible and poisonous plants or pick up a book from the library.
Pick Up a New Language
Learning a new language is a brain booster that can improve memory, thinking skills and focus. It can also deepen your connection to other cultures and give you a new perspective to consider.
Set Out By Night
Grab a flashlight and a group of friends and experience your city transform during the night. Neighbourhood parks, famous landmarks or busy central streets can appear completely different during the early morning hours.
Stay safe and avoid areas that could put you in danger.
Have a Wine Discovery Week (or Month)
You know how the wine list in a new country can be completely unfamiliar? When you travel, unfamiliar names and labels are a perfect excuse to try something different. Pick one day a week or month when you try a new variety or label from a different country to what you are used to.
Start an A-Z Adventure or Date Challenge
A-Z adventures can be applied to anything and everything you can imagine. From date-night, cuisines, drink choices or just general experiences. Start with A and every week pick something that starts from the letter you are at.
For example, if you are doing a wine A-Z challenge you might go with Assyrtiko from Santorini and then move on to Baco Blanc from France the next week until you reach Z.
Go do the most Touristy Thing In Your City
Answer me this! How many times have you said you will do *insert most popular attraction in your city* but never do it because you live there and think there will be time later on? I have lived in 7 countries and moved countless neighbourhoods and one thing that has always stayed the same wherever I go, is the flawed belief that there is always time to do something later. Don’t miss out on local “touristy” experiences just because they are there and you think you will have time in the future.
Get Your Culture On With Virtual Museum Tours
Due to Covid-19 and the need to stay at home for weeks at a time, museums, galleries and other culture hub spots have started to offer virtual tours, performances and educational information. So if that is what you miss the most about travelling you can recreate it at home straight away. If you are able to physically visit a museum you can always do that too!
Become a Local Somewhere New
If you are in dire need of a new place to hang out then you might just need to pick a new pub, coffee spot or park to frequent. Break the routine and have your daily coffee some place else and see what else is on offer around your neighbourhood.
Learn About Important Heritage Sites
The UNESCO World Heritage Sites list includes more than 800 locations. There may be some located in your region or city without you even being aware of it. Even if you don’t find a new heritage site that you want to visit locally, the list might give you an idea of where your next trip will be.
Have a Social Media Free Day
Sounds too hard? Just imagine you are on a super long flight from Europe to New Zealand and there is no Wi-Fi on-board. Instant holiday feels!
Watch Travel Documentaries
Are you a culture enthusiast, historian, foodie or extreme sports fan? There is a documentary out there for you that combines your interests and new locations. If you haven’t seen Planet Earth on Netflix with David Attenborough you can start there!
Stay Over at a Friend’s House
Travel is not always fancy. Think hostels, backpacking and long layovers. Have a sleepover party at your friend’s house for a quick and easy holiday. Extra bonus point if your friend’s house comes with a jacuzzi, a massive backyard or a home theatre.
Make A List of Your Favourite Travel Movies
Some movies manage to transport us right into another place. So much so that you often need to take a step back afterwards and remind yourself of where you are. Watch them! Make a list and watch them again! Anything to keep that wanderlust alive.
Become a Fake Backpacker For a Day
Backpack, heavy boots, ninja packing skills and having to remove everything to find one pair of socks. Okay, backpacking might not be the sexiest form of travel but if you miss it you need to do something about it. Pack that bag and set out around the city to find your hostel. Make it even more realistic by having a foreign SIM card into your phone so you have no data.
Did you remember to download the offline Google Maps this time?
Explore the City by Bike
For hardcore bike lovers a new route might be just what you need for a fun day out. For non-bike lovers or if you simply never had the opportunity see if there are companies offering bike tours in your city and set out on a sunset or waterfront ride with some friends and your cameras on full charge.
One of my favourite bike companies out there is Coco mat Bikes. With a strong focus on sustainability and comfort, these wooden bikes are handmade in Greece and in addition to their ergonomic design they look classy, sleek and just plain cool! I mean, you will need a comfy bike to ride from Amsterdam to Athens as the owner has previously done! Locations include Valencia, Antwerp, and of course Athens.
Cheer For A New Sport
Soccer is huge in Europe and Latin America, rugby brings to mind the All Blacks in New Zealand, and cricket is a mystery I will never comprehend. Next time you put on a jersey and get ready to support the team through your TV pick a sport you don’t normally watch. Might discover a new favourite!
Go on a Hike Around Your Area
There are countless peaks to be conquered and vantage viewpoints to take sunset photos from if only you know where to go. Ask the local Facebook group for the best hikes in your area and get some exercise while exploring your city.
Have a Staycation at a Local Hotel
A great hotel experience is one where all worries and everyday troubles stay outside the door and your days are about dinner and breakfast options or whether the pool bar serves your favourite cocktail.
The hospitality industry, including hotels, were some of the worst affected during the lockdown. Support your local businesses by having a staycation and take advantage of the great deals on offer at the moment.
Host a Game Night
Game night is proof that you don’t need much to have fun. Just a handful of friends a couple of quirky games and some pizza and beer. If the lockdown restrictions are bad where you are at the moment or you prefer a social-distancing safe mini adventure, you could even host a virtual game night!
Change up Your Commute Route
Intensely familiar routes are so ingrained into our brains that you could arrive at your office in the morning and not even remember if you stopped at the traffic light. Give your brain something new to think about by changing your commute route. Get the bus instead of walking. Walk instead of driving. Grab a bike or simply pick a new road to cross. Just make sure to leave a bit earlier just in case.
Have an International BBQ
Have a BBQ or a picnic and invite all your friends to bring an international dish or something they are proud to serve! This is the perfect excuse to try out your favourite international dishes like some Greek souvlaki, Chinese char siu or grilled bratwurst and see how similar they taste to what you remember.
Discover the Street Art in Your Area
It hasn’t always been appreciated as an art form, however, street art offers a unique insight into the culture and everyday life of the people in that specific area. Whether you put your research skills to the test, hire a local guide or just enjoy photographing them, tracking down street art in your neighbourhood is a great way to spend a day.
Explore an Abandoned Building
What is down this way? You won’t find out until you go look. While there is nothing that screams “travel” about an abandoned building, it makes for interesting stories and gets your adrenaline going. Both of which are a staple of travel adventures!
Recreate Your Favourite Instagram Holiday Snaps
If you can’t go to Santorini, then Santorini must come to you through carefully recreated travel photos. All you need is some props, a bit of Photoshop, some interesting locations and some friends to help you take photos.