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Is Your 9-5 an Adventure Killer? Here's Why It Doesn't Have to Be

The short answer is, only if you let it be. For the long answer and hopefully some inspiration, keep reading.

By: Tyler McKay + Save to a List

Let’s be honest, if you're on social media you have undoubtedly seen #vanlife trending or started following people who seem to travel to an uncountable number of exotic places. They tell you how they get paid more than you probably make at your 9-5 and that you can do the same. You think to yourself, “that would be the dream” and for many that’s exactly what it is. A dream. Is it really realistic to live that sort of life? What about all the obligations you already have? The reality is that that life might work for some (more power to you), but definitely not for most.

Things like a family, pets, a secure job, and even fear of the unknown can hold you back from jumping into full van life or being a travel blogger (again, not knocking it). Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s okay! You don't need 100K Instagram followers to have a fun and adventurous life. Most people only post their best pictures from their most exotic adventures, but leave out everything else that their life consists of. I’m a full time law student and don’t get a lot of time off. Heck, even most of my weekends are tangled up with schoolwork, so free time is limited, but if you take a wander to my Instagram (here), it looks like I’m travelling all the time. While I wish that were the case, it’s simply not. Being a student also means that my budget is usually pretty tight, but that doesn't mean I can’t go on amazing adventures. You probably can’t even tell I’m strapped for cash from the pictures I post (hopefully!). That’s the point I’m trying to make. Social media isn’t indicative of a 9-5 job. People post pictures from past trips everyday, but that leads to a feeling like you are missing out when you see it everyday at your desk. 

It comes down to free time and your imagination. It’s up to you, not social media, to define what an amazing adventure is. What sounds like the most amazing time I’ve ever had might be of little interest to you, so frame what an adventure is to you. What does adventure look like in your life? Not mine. Not everyone has the same amount time to go exploring, but that doesn't mean you can’t get out there.

So how do you make adventure part of your life while grinding away at your 9-5?

Simply said, find a way (I know, easier said than done). If being outside, seeing new places, camping under the stars, or road tripping is your passion; then find a way! It's okay to be a weekend warrior, it’s okay to only have a week of vacation time to see the place you’ve been dying to get to, and it’s even okay to make a day trip. The reality is you don't need to make a cross-country trip in order to live a life of adventure. Will it help? Sure, but don't spend your time wishing you could be doing something. Instead, use that time you spend wishing you were in Bali to plan a trip to a local spot.  

I recently used my spring break to travel 3,000 miles by car. Money was tight, so I couldn't fly and I spent a lot more time in the car than I would have liked, but I got to see four national parks, some national monuments, and the coveted Havasupai (home to Havasu Falls). I had been dreaming of Havasupai for years and was only able to get 24 hours there. Would I have liked to have more time? Sure. Did I feel rushed trying to see everything? Yep. Was a 3,000-mile road trip worth it to be there fore only 24 hours? Abso-freaking-lutely (Check it out!). I’ll never forget those blue waters and immaculate falls. I am so glad that I didn't let the amount of time I had somewhere hold me back for this one. More time adventuring is always better, but some time is definitely better than no time! (Hopefully that makes sense.)

So you work a 9-5 and don't get a spring break? That’s also fine! Do some research and find some places that are within driving distance. See if you can find some cheap flights for a weekend you have free. I’m local to Fayetteville, AR, so finding camping within an hour or two is totally possible. If you’re reading this I’m willing to bet that you also have some camp/adventure-worthy spots within a few hours. So do it! Go to work on Friday with your gear loaded up, get your crew together after work, head out to your destination, set up camp in the dark, and have a great time! With the rise of social media, everyone feels like they need to be at an insane location to be worthy of #adventure.

I’m here to tell you, that is not the case. Who cares if you can't see where you're setting up camp? That makes for an awesome surprise when you wake up in the morning! I did this at Lake Powell. I had no idea what I was waking up to, but as the sun peaked up I got to see an amazing sunrise. Would I have liked to set up camp in the light and just chill? Well of course, but be realistic! You won't always get that. You won't always have all day to mosey around at camp. You may get in late and be gone early, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't go!

It is up to you to determine how far you are willing to go, how much you're willing to spend, and what kind of time you have. Don't sweat the little things. Get out there and go do something fun. You don't need thousands of dollars to get to a picturesque location, but you do need an easygoing attitude and an imagination (Here’s how I got from Arkansas and through Southern California in a week for under $500). Don't limit yourself. Don't hold yourself back. Save a few bucks a week for gas, load your car up and go do something that your passionate about. Don’t let staring at exotic locations all day on your phone hold you back! Don't blame your lack of adventure on your 9-5 or budget because I know you can make it work.

My point is: just get out there and do something. If you spend too much time thinking about all the time you wish you had, you're going to waste the time you currently have. Use it up.

Let me know what your next adventure plan is!

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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