Whether you’re an avid outdoor lover or you just like to get some fresh air now and then, chances are you’re pretty busy. Your plate is full. Your calendar’s crammed. So spending time outside can be a real challenge. But you still want to enjoy The Great Outdoors.
Here are ten simple ways to spend more time outside:
1) Keep it Simple
No time for a month-long backpacking trip or that epic outdoor adventure in Alaska? No problem. Just throttle back. Keep it simple:
Go for a nature walk. Visit an arboretum. Splash in the rain. Take a longer walk with your dog. Stroll on a beach. Star gaze. Plant a garden. Watch a sunset. Fly a kite. Picnic.
Don’t wait for a Godzilla-sized window of opportunity. Carve out some outdoor time in smaller chunks that are more manageable and hopefully, more frequent.
2) Use a Calendar and Plan Ahead
Taking off on a spur-of-the-moment adventure may sound foot loose and fancy-free. But it’s not something most people can easily fit in to their busy lives. Additionally, many outdoor sites like national parks require reservations, often months in advance.
So grab a pad of paper or your favorite electronic device. Jot down a list of outdoors sites you’d like to visit in 2020.
Want to explore a new state park? Surf at a new beach? Hike the back country of a national park? Discover a new campground or fishing hole?
Make a list. Check it twice. Then start planning. Factor in weather. Distance. Activities. Costs. Lodging or campground availability. Vacation time you’ll need to calendar. And so on.
More time outdoors won’t just fall out of the sky with wishful thinking. Get pro-active. Plan in advance. Or it probably won’t happen.
3) Consult a map or app
When we decided to visit Whatcom County in northern Washington last spring, one of our first stops was Google. Our time was limited. We didn’t want to waste it driving around aimlessly. So we checked into outdoor opportunities in advance.
We scouted state and county parks like Larrabee State Park and Birch Bay State Park, Whatcom Falls State Park and Whatcom Lake. Also:
Reconnoitering and prioritizing helped us cover a lot of outdoor ground quickly within a limited time frame.
Besides Google, hiking apps and the like, the front desk at your local inn or hotel can also provide a wide variety of information related to outdoor recreational opportunities in the vicinity.
4) Make it a Family Affair
Involve the kids in the planning. They’ll have more invested in your outdoor time if they feel like they’re part of planning it.
5) Plan and prep your meals in advance.
Once you have your destinations and dates calendared for your next camping adventure, sit down and write out a menu. Grocery shop. And instead of cooking at the campsite, for example, we do all our cooking at home.
That way our outside time is for The Outside, not chores that we could easily do in advance at home. For more, see my post on Camp Cooking Made Easy.
6) Throttle Back (see #1, above)
When lengthy, distant outdoor adventures aren’t doable, plan shorter, more frequent adventures closer to home:
Day hike. Fish a nearby lake or stream. No time for a three-day drive to a favorite national park? Check out state, county, or municipal parks instead.
If you don’t know where to start, check online or the local Chamber of Commerce/Visitor’s Center, or your outdoorsy neighbor. An afternoon picnic at the beach, lake, or park can re-charge the ‘ole nature-loving batteries, too.
7) Unpack Like a Boss
Dumping your outdoor gear on the garage or basement floor and leaving it to sort out “later” can be tempting after you return from your latest outdoor adventure. You’re tired. You just want to kickback. You’ll clean and stow your gear later, right?
Do it now. Before your next outdoor adventure.
There’s nothing like trying to remember where you dropped your trekking poles last month when you’re trying to get out the door in five minutes. Or finding out you need a new rain fly after you’ve arrived at your camp site and a storm is brewing.
Check all year outdoor gear as soon as you come home. Repair, replace, or re-condition and/or clean whatever is necessary. Then put it away. So it’s ready and waiting for your next adventure. This will make it easier to get ready next time.
Someone once said:
“Time is like a penny. You can spend it any way you want. But you can only spend it once.”
Expending some time and energy in advance to plan your next outdoor adventure in advance can mean more time outside. Since that’s the name of the game, let’s get goin’!
What would you add?