6 Tiny Adventures To Boost Your Mood

Easy, close-to-home ideas that'll help you overcome a little boredom.

By: Erin McGrady + Save to a List

I’m a big fan of the epic trip. The one that involves planning, plane tickets, and tons of gorgeous photo ops. But the last year or so has really forced me to change my adventure focal point. Rather than packing and getting another stamp on my passport, I’ve set my sights on coming up with fun things to do that are a little closer to home. It’s helped keep costs down, has put a little bit of money back into my community, and has often been done with hardly any forethought. Here are six of my favorite tiny adventure ideas for keeping boredom at bay.

Rideshare Run

Erin post-run taking off the Hoka One One Clifton 7.

One of my favorite things to do is lace up my running shoes, throw my phone in a running vest, and leave the house without a destination in mind. There's something super freeing about it. I can literally just run until I'm tired. When I've had enough I'll open up one of the rideshare apps on my phone and do my cool down while it's en route. Most days I go for about 4 miles so on days when I do a rideshare run, I like to go at least six miles, often more. This kind of run gives me the freedom to explore new neighborhoods and not worry about when I need to turn around. (These days with covid impacting life, my rideshare run driver is my wife!) 

Backyard Campout

I can still remember how excited I was to camp out in my backyard as a kid. Yeah, I was about 40 kid-strides from the backdoor of my parent's house but I was outside in the dark. Alone! And it was awesome. One of the easiest tiny adventures that you can do (whether you're a kid or not) is to pitch a tent in your backyard, make some ‘smores, and tell stories long into the night around a fire. You don’t have to go far and I’m pretty sure it’ll be something you and your family will never forget. 

Fancy Picnic

You can't go wrong with salty snacks, cheese, and wine (these two bottles are from Vīdl).

There’s a time and a place for granola bars and PB&J sandwiches. We eat our fair share of both throughout the year, mostly because it's easy to eat when you're on the road. But rather than making your food the afterthought of your adventures, think about making it the centerpiece for your outing. The idea can be as simple as getting carryout from one of your favorite local restaurants (ahem, looking at you 12 Bones BBQ) or it can be as lavish as setting up an actual blanket or table and chairs outside, bringing a little wine, and doing it up. Bonus points for surprising your partner or family.

Photo Scavenger Hunt

This adventure requires a little planning. But it can be a fun way to get outdoors, especially when you’re cold. The idea is to snap a photo of everything on the list. As for the list, you can either make one up (themes are always fun) or do a quick google search that'll bring up a ton of photo scavenger hunt ideas. Use your phone or even an instant camera to prove you found what you were looking for.

Homemade Triathlon

The traditional triathlon is made up of a swimming, biking, and running component. Many people are familiar with the Ironman triathlon but there are also triathlons of shorter distances such as the Olympic Distance and Sprint varieties. But since this is your own version, you can do any distance that you want and mix up the sports based on what’s available to you. Kayak, bike, trail run. SUP, surf, kayak. Heck, eliminate the water and just pick any three activities and do ‘em back to back to back. 

Outdoor Ed

An old school field guide can help you get away from your phone for a bit and also learn about your surroundings.

How many wildflowers can you identify where you live? How about mushrooms? Or trees? I’m admittedly not great at this. I can identify the basics but beyond that … not so much. It’s been fun to go for a walk in my neighborhood and try to figure out what exactly I’m looking at. Somehow I feel a small amount of happiness at being able to look at something and know what it is. There are a number of different apps that can help with this but I prefer old school field guides such as the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. Oh, and while you’re at it, don’t forget to look up. The stars are also eager to be seen and known.

Though a pint-sized adventure close to home may not compare to say, living on a sailboat and surfing empty waves for two weeks, it’s better than endlessly doomscrolling and sinking even further into your couch. Next time you’re bored or on the fence about what to do try one of these ideas and see if it doesn't help you break out of the same old, same old.

Photos by Erin McGrady and Caroline Whatley

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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