How to organise a weekend adventure
The when, where, how and what of organising a weekend adventure can seem so daunting that weeks, months, years pass and we never actually get anywhere. As you can imagine, the logistics of last year's weekly challenges, completed alongside my full time job in banking, means I rank myself pretty high in the authority of weekend organisation skills.
Ideas, time and money are the most common excuses. They are easily surmountable. Ideas are only a chance encounter/ pub chat/ internet search away. Your time is yours so make a conscious decision to carve out space for the things you care about. Control costs to suit your budget – there are a wealth of activities that you can do without spending a penny.
Before I go any further it is important to remember that you can only plan so much. There is a limit to your control.
That’s a good thing. We don’t want to micromanage all the surprise out of our free time.
So here we go, a starter guide to make the most of your weekends and holidays:
What time can you carve out of your regular life to shake things up a bit? Block a weekend/ week in your diary right now. It's that easy. Done?
Conflicts and clashes will arise. Stick to your guns. There will be another friend’s birthday next weekend too. Forget FOMO, embrace JOMO (joy of missing out).
I don’t keep a bucket list (it would make me upset that I can’t go to all of them, all at once, right now!). Instead I constantly have my ears pricked for ideas and go with whatever gets me most excited at the time. If a friend shows some interest in going somewhere together, that helps to get things moving quicker.
My inspiration usually comes from a recommendation or chance encounter. In the case of the Causeway Coast Way run, it was a photo of the Giant’s Causeway and a desire to see it for myself. Same for Troll Tunga and Guilin's limestone karst mountains. From there, you can add active adventure into exploring an area.
(Note: Sometimes it can be preferable to move the What? (no. 4 below) before the Where?)
Before getting too excited about a particular location I check the logistics of getting there. Often a quick search and difficulties in arriving there rule out plan A. Depending on where you are going, check drive, train or plane times, and the cost associated.
If you’re taking your bike on the train, make sure you make a reservation in advance. Train companies can be quite strict on places. For the Eurostar, check out this guide I put together. If travelling with your bike is stressing you out, research bike rental at your destination.
A friend and I cycled the Portuguese Camino de Santiago on a rented bike that was dropped off at our starting hotel, and picked up from the end. There was not much in the price difference vs. what we would have paid for extra sports luggage on a return flight. Same for the Sa Calobra Mallorca cycle challenge last year, and Dolomites next week.
So you’ve found your when, where and how to get there – now to choose your actual activity/ adventure. Hiking, kayaking, standup paddleboarding, running, cycling, wild camping, wild swimming, climbing, hang gliding, zip-lining, underground trampolining. Last year’s completed 52in52 challenges are all there for you to get out and try yourself too (#eXerKyourself).
If you’re worried you’re on a wild goose chase - a quick internet search can give you some notion as to whether your idea is remotely feasible. Local tourism offices and blogs are useful points of reference. Who knows though, you could be the first to try something somewhere!
Camping: I love it! Requires more gear but allows for flexibility and keeping costs down, once you’ve invested in camping gear that is. Bivvy bagging is a great way to travel light and enjoy the stars.
Bothys/ mountain huts: These are rudimentary shelters in remote locations, and are usually free. You take your own food and sleeping gear with you but will have a roof over your head. You’ll have to plan your route to make sure you find one each night.
Hostels/ treehouses etc: The next step up. Your backpack/ panniers will be lightened as cooking and bedding won’t be needed if you’re staying in hostels. You can look forward to clean sheets, hot showers and normally a self-catering option too.
BnBs and hotels: The luxury option for travelling light has its place in adventure. Depending on where you are, check whether you should book ahead or if it's ok to turn up on the day.
Having a travel buddy has its pros and cons. Try different options:
Solo: Travelling alone has its perks. No compromise, negotiation or discussion means you can make decisions on a whim. There is fun to be had from travelling alone – both in meeting people and in getting comfortable with your own thoughts away from routine. Solo adventuring can often be the only option if you can’t find others to join you. Go for it (and keep safe).
Friends/ family/ colleagues: I really enjoy the experience of sharing the sights, the highs and the lows with others. Going on a microadventure allows for quality time together, taking a break from the normal confines of packed diaries. Do think about who you go with though. Align your when, where, what and why so that you journey with people with similar expectations to you - no fallings out please…
Strangers: If solo doesn’t sound appealing, and your friends/ family/ colleagues are not keen to join you, there are lots of groups you can turn to. Meetup.com, local sports clubs or signing up to do a course are all good options for meeting like-minded people to get outdoors and active with.
In the absence of friends to go surfing with, I booked with London Surfers Meetup group. We car-pooled, had a fun weekend surfing and got to know a bunch of new people. Meetup.com has groups for any interest, and which often have drinks in London so you can meet people before committing to anything. Same with climbing, I booked myself onto a climbing course at Plas y Brenin mountain centre in North Wales for a beginner's weekend on the crags.
Pack less than you think. These excursions are not meant to be glamorous and really, for a multi-day trip you will be fine with one ‘dirty’ and one ‘clean’ outfit. You do the sporty bit in the dirty set, and then relax and sleep in the dry. As was pointed out to me, turning up to a country pub on a Saturday night in out-of-place sports gear is a great conversation starter.
Having said that, being prepared for adversity is important. Don’t scrimp to pack super light if it means jeopardising your safety. Particularly in the UK, weather can change quickly and having warm clothes and some way of navigating in the middle of a hailstorm in the Brecon Beacons can pay off.
By trial and error you refine how you like to gear up to a micro adventure - the style you like to go by, who you like to adventure with and what you really need to bring. I hope you feel empowered and that the guide above facilitates proactivity to get outdoors and active.
Now when, where, how and with you are you going??! Tag me @eXerKyourself #eXerKyourself.
If there are any other points you think are important, do get in contact.