Note: While I try to write for a broad audience, this post discusses banking and money, and in that discussion I refer to US institutions and dollars. The rest of the information in this post will still work for you, regardless of where you live.
This summer I observed this meme, or others like it, popping up on social media.
I don’t know who made it; if you do, let me know and I’ll give credit where credit is due, or remove it if necessary. I want to make it clear that I didn’t make this, for two reasons. The first reason is because it’s not my work. The second reason is because I think it’s utter bullshit.
Our lives are not binary. Our options are not all or nothing; just because we can’t fly to Prague, ride motorcycles in Africa, or hike the John Muir Trail doesn’t mean that we have to sit on our couch doing nothing. There are hundreds of opportunities that exist between those two extremes, and if you haven’t pursued them, then no, you aren’t trying to have an adventurous summer.
If the only thing that is holding you back is that you don’t have enough money, then I hate to break it to you, but you’re not actually trying hard at all. You cannot focus on what you don’t have; instead you have to consider what you do have. So you don’t have a large bank account? What do you have? Do you have a functioning mode of transportation, an old tent or tarp, some old blankets or sleeping bags, an old pot and some top ramen? You’ve got yourself a camping trip then. Is it glamorous? No. Is it an adventure? Yes.
This blog hasn’t been around that long, but already I’ve described microadventures that you can take for less than $50-100, like camping at nearby state parks, or hiking, or even urban hiking. Have you done those things? Have you tried other new activities in your area? Have you looked at your locale with adventurous eyes? Have you really explored your options? If you haven’t then don’t waste your breath complaining about being bored. If you haven’t exhausted the opportunities for adventure within a days drive from where you live, then you’re not bored, you’re boring.
But here’s the important thing; you don’t have to stay that way. That’s what Intrepid Daily is all about. Changing your situation, leading a more adventurous life day by day. It’s why I picked the name. And despite the criticism above, I’m not trying to tear you down; I’m trying to build you up. So if you feel like you’ve been held back because of lack of funds or opportunities, I’m here to help you. That’s why I wrote this blog, to share my journey so that it can help others. So let’s do this. Let’s find you an adventure. If you need help, write a comment to me, and we’ll make it happen. Are you still wanting to fly to another country, climb a mountain, or scuba dive ship wrecks? Good, you should want to do things like that, but don’t sit on the couch lamenting that you can’t do it right now. That won’t help; I know because I wasted years doing it. Start microadventuring now, while you prepare for the big adventures that will come. And trust me, if you start small and keep building, the big adventures will come.
So what do you want to do? Do you want to go hiking? Camping? Stand up Paddleboarding? Backpacking? Kayaking? Hiking? Let’s get you set up. Open up a new browser window and go to Google. Seriously, go ahead and do it. Now just type in whatever activity that you want to try and your zip code. Obviously there are limitations. If you live in Chicago, hiking in the desert is probably going to be out, but there are places you can hike within an hour’s drive. You can kayak the river. There is something for you to do, to try, to experience. Start small. A 1-5 mile hike this weekend will lead to something else if you stick with it. So make sure you stick with it; grab your calendar, or open up your calendar app if that’s how you roll. Find a day within the next few weeks where you can go try your new activity. Write that in, and DO NOT change it unless you absolutely have to. If you do have to change it, don’t cancel, just reschedule. If you’re scared, take a friend with you. And no matter what you do, make sure that you’ve told someone where you’ll be and when to expect you back, for safety’s sake. Now that it’s on your calendar, stick with it. Don’t back out. Commit to it. Then do it.
After you return from your activity, get back on Google and repeat this process; schedule another day in a few weeks to try something, or to improve at the activity you just tried. Set it in your calendar and stick with it. Then do it. Then afterwards, get back on Google and do it all over again. After a few months you’ll realize that you aren’t waiting for an adventure- you are an adventurer. You’re seeking out the experiences, and it will be sweet. It’s autumn now, so depending on where you live, the temperature is dropping. That’s fine, we can layer our clothes to stay warm! We can visit museums! We can take classes! We can tour breweries! We can take road trips! We can have campfires! Don’t wait until spring to start, find something new to try as soon as possible. Don’t let old man winter take six months of the year from you. It’s your life.
Still having doubts? I understand, because I did too. If you’re still having trouble, if you still think you don’t have enough time or money, I recommend that you check out Alastair Humphrey’s book, Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes. It’s one of the direct inspirations for this blog, and while the specific activities Humphrey’s describes all take place in the United Kingdom (since that’s where he lives), the attitude and philosophy applies regardless of where you live. Alastair Humphreys is an adventurer that had taken the giant around the world adventures, but in this book, he demonstrates how you don’t need to journey to far away lands to have an adventure; if you’re still having trouble with the idea of microadventuring, I can’t recommend it enough. You can find it on Amazon, your favorite book store, or your local library.
But Wade, I want one of those big grand adventures in a faraway land!
I understand, because I do too! And we should make that happen. But, yeah, it’s going to cost us money. It will probably take time to get that worked out; but remember, I’m not a wealthy man, I work a regular job and pay bills. I’m not independently wealthy. I understand this frustration. But remember Rule #3; start now, not later. So get started now. Do you have a savings account? If not, you need to open one, and you can do it right from where you’re sitting. Here are a few options.
I have (or have had in the past) a savings account from these places. While I’m writing this, Barclay’s has the best interest rate, but that won’t necessarily stay the same. These are all decent options, they are all FDIC insured, and generally you’ll get better rates online than at brick and mortar banks. There are tons of other options out there, so feel free to do some additional research and find an account that suits you. If you’re more comfortable with a bank or credit union in your town, that’s fine too. Just get an account open. Don’t do it next month, do it this week.
Once you’ve got that first step done, keep the momentum going. The next step is to figure out how much money you can do without every week. This is extremely daunting to some people, so don’t think too much about it. In fact, if you spend more than fifteen minutes trying to figure it out, just settle on five bucks. You can do without five bucks a week. Then I want you to set your bank to automatically deposit that money into your savings account once a week.
Bam! You’re saving for your adventure! I know what some of you are thinking right now. You’re thinking, “Gee Wade, $5 a week, that’s only $260 a year, that’s not enough.” I know this, because I’ve thought this so many times myself. But that kind of thinking is defeatist. Don’t tear down your own dream; work on making it reality. Remember Rule #9; a path with no obstacles isn’t leading anywhere worthwhile. If you lean into this obstacle, instead of falling before it, here’s what will happen;
1. You’ll quickly realize that doing without that $5 a week isn’t hard at all. So you’ll up that deposit to $10.
2. Then you’ll realize that you don’t miss that much either. Then you’ll up the deposit again.
3. And again.
4. And again.
5. Eventually, you’ll figure out just how much you can deposit a week and still live healthy and happy.
Now obviously, this doesn’t speak to the people who are living in poverty. I can check my privilege here, and I know that for some people this isn’t an option. But ask yourself, are you one of those people? Is this really not an option for you? Is $5 a month towards a dream not something you can do right now? Are you stopping to buy a latte during the week? Are you buying comics or going to the movies? Going out to lunch or dinner? Do one of those activities one less time a week, and you have your initial investment. Once we really get down to it, $5 is well within the limits of what most of us can do. If you’re unwilling to put that money aside, well, maybe this adventure stuff just isn’t for you.
But if you can start down that path, if you can start saving just $5 a week, soon you may be saving $50 a week. Then you’re saving not $260 a year toward your goal, but $2600. Is that enough for the trip you’re wanting to take? Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, but even if it’s not, it’s a lot closer than the zero you’d have saved if you did nothing. Doing nothing is the enemy of an intrepid life. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that if you’re not scaling Everest that your effort isn’t worthwhile. Don’t think that you have to be bored or boring just because you aren’t a jetsetter. What’s holding you back? Lack of money, lack of time, lack of experience? Don’t let them. Everyone has to start somewhere, sometime. If you’re not already on the path to a more adventurous life, start here, start now.
Don’t beat yourself up just because you can’t yet afford to go someplace far away. I used to do that. I used to see the photos of cool stuff on Instagram and get discouraged. I wished I could be backpacking Europe, or climbing half-dome, or riding a motorcycle across the US. I would get upset with myself because I couldn’t do those things right at that moment, pout, and never do anything about it. But eventually, I realized that even if I couldn’t do those things yet, I could do something.
You have a choice. You can see cool pictures on Instagram and be jealous, or you can get out there and take your own. Maybe you can’t climb a mountain this week, but chances are you can get out and go for a hike. So do it.