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What Camping, Backpacking and Road Tripping Taught Me about Living Life

Opportunity is out there...in the form of adventure.

By: Patrick James + Save to a List

The thing about living life is that you can (for the most part) make it whatever you want it to be. If you have a hard time letting loose or feeling free, today is your uninterrupted chance to change that. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you’re not good with structure…you can absolutely work on it with a solid routine.

I work 40 hours a week in the Outdoor Industry. When I’m not working, I’m usually driving to or from the mountains. My most recent big trip was 15 days of driving from place to place. My main intention was to sleep outside and put my feet on as much new ground as possible. I love being outside…and if this were a different setting, I’d probably list off every single thing I enjoy doing in the mountains. But because this is The Outbound, I’d be willing to bet my list looks about the same as yours.

Back to the trip…like I was saying earlier, I managed to create a 15-day window where I could completely disconnect from my normal life. Here’s what I learned:

1. You don’t always need a plan

It’s not by chance that this is number one on the list…I’m a planner, so there are times when going with the flow can be a daunting task. When I look past the new experiences and new places I’ve found along the way, the next thing that comes to mind is how freeing it can be to just see what happens. So, for all of the other planners out there…trust me on this one. If you get a chance to wing it, don’t pass it up. The moments where things just fall into place are some of the moments I appreciate most.

2. Say yes to opportunity

This one’s kind of a continuation of the ‘no plan’ thing, so there’s not much more to say…mainly I just wanted to reiterate how important it is for me (and maybe you) to take chances, and push myself out of my comfort zone.

3. Motor boat vs Warship

I use this analogy a lot when I talk about the way smaller companies can make fast moves compared to how larger ones turn slowly. When I think about my everyday life, I picture it as the warship. I’m able to enjoy stability and routine when I’m at home or at work. When I’m on the road, I can make quick decisions that substantially change my immediate future. There’s beauty and benefit in both, but more than that…there’s a lot of perspective to be found by experiencing the side you’re least accustomed to. Over time, I’ve learned that when I break away from routine, I feel like I have a little more control over my own destiny…which is something I’m constantly craving.

My conclusion: Opportunity is out there…in the form of adventure. What are you waiting for? What have you learned from your outdoor experiences?


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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