How to find inspiration for your next adventure
People often confuse living adventurously with living on the edge. But adventure isn't just for adrenaline junkies and athletes, it's for everyone, and it's more accessible than you think.
Adventure meets you when you go outside with intention; when you explore with a sense of wonder and curiosity. It's that 'aha' moment when you create or learn something new and discover something about yourself or the world.
Engaging in something fun and outside your comfort zone is hugely transformative and liberating, and the thing is, it doesn't need to be anything big, expensive or overwhelming. Pitching a tent in your back garden, cooking a meal over an open fire, taking your bike out for the day and seeing where you end up. One day the back streets of Tooting, the next, the wild plains of the Serengeti. Who knows where a tiny adventure will take you?
And that's the beauty of it.
Adventure happens when you turn your life into a story. To invite it in, you send yourself out and say YES more. You begin to develop a clearer sense of who you are as an individual, allowing your values, strengths and character to shine. You tune in. You become.
Adventure is becoming.
People often seek change when they're searching for a greater purpose or work-life balance. Change and adventure go hand-in-hand, and the potential for both is EVERYWHERE - in your own home, even - but sometimes it can be hard to identify what you want or know where to start.
Here are some simple tips and resources that might help you to discover your next adventure - from mindfulness activities to life-changing reads and supportive, inclusive adventure communities.
1. START WITH YOU
Firstly, it helps to change your mindset about adventure. It's not just a one-off thing to achieve before having kids and settling down, and it's not an exclusive club for fit, wealthy, white, middle-class men (just check out All The Elements, who I mention below). You can live adventurously at any point in your life, whoever you are.
Adventure is unique to the individual, so when you're searching for inspiration, defining your own dreams and ambitions is usually a good place to start. Engaging in mindfulness activities can allow space in your mind for inspiration to flow.
The 'reverse' bucket list
I found the idea of bucket lists a little disheartening. Asking myself to produce a list of things I wanted to do when I already lacked inspiration was frustrating. In need of encouragement, I reached for a pen and started compiling a list of all the things I had achieved in my life to date; a Reverse Bucket List.
Recognising your accomplishments gives you a sense of progress and boosts your self-esteem. You swam across that big lake when you were just 13 years old. That was a great day! Hang on; maybe you could swim other lakes or revisit that same one and see if you can swim it again. What if you set yourself the challenge of swimming all the lakes in that region or give paddleboarding or kayaking a go?
And just like that, an adventure is born. A so-called bucket list materialises. Looking back at the progress we've made is more encouraging than feeling like we're behind, and taking time to be grateful for our experiences does wonders for our sense of well-being.
Morning pages and gratitude
In the morning, I like to sit down with a cup of tea and write anything that comes to mind for 15-20 minutes - a stream of consciousness - my thoughts, fears and anxieties. I end each session with a list of ten things for which I'm grateful.
This simple routine helps me to:
Identify any overwhelming issues
look at those issues objectively, work through and resolve them
Tune into and focus on what's important
Identify unhealthy habits
Tap into creative ideas and inspiration!
The psychological benefits of externalising thoughts by writing them down are well-established. Our brain's inhibitory processes are still weak in the morning, allowing us to access the more creative part of our minds before the rational part kicks in. The more regularly we engage our creative minds, the more we tune in and allow ideas and inspiration to unfold.
Writing a list of things you are grateful for at the end of your morning pages means you end on a high. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology explored how grateful recounting enhanced a person's well-being. The findings showed that participants who recalled three good things from the past 48 hours and briefly wrote about them every day for a week had an easier time accessing positive memories and had a more positive outlook on life.
(Tip - traditionally, morning pages should be three pages of A4, but my working day starts at 08:00, so I only have time for two sides. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, brought Morning Pages to the mainstream. See below for inspirational reads).
Create a vision board
Now you've tapped into your creative mind and explored your values and what motivates you, it's time to get creative. A vision board is a great activity, allowing you to exercise your imagination and define and shape your goals and motivations in a visual way.
To start, I define the areas in my life I want to focus on - the things I value; relationships, home life, travel and adventure, personal growth (including hobbies, interests, education) and health.
I then go through magazines and the internet and look for pictures and words that evoke a sense of nostalgia or meaning and fit well with my values. I also add a few personal photos of friends and family, postcards - reminders of events, places, emotions and people.
A vision board can focus on how you want to feel, not just on things you want. Can you find an image, word or item that reminds you of the sounds, smells, and feelings associated with a particular vision? A souvenir, postcard or seasonal image may remind you of a feeling you had when you experienced something for the first time. For me it's the serenity that comes from swimming in a crystal clear, still lake and the smell of pine trees at Christmas. Any feeling you may want to experience more of.
Every so often, I pull out my vision board, put a record on and sit on a bean bag with a glass of wine. If I'm feeling stuck, checking in on my dreams visually every so often helps inspiration to flow.
2. INSPIRATIONAL & LIFE-CHANGING READS
Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) encourages us to embrace our curiosity and let go of the needless suffering we often put ourselves through when undertaking creative tasks. This short book equips you with all the information you need to start living your most creative and adventurous life. Reading it is perfectly described as having a friend take your hand and say, "You can do this; you should do this."
The Artist's Way is a twelve-week course guiding you through the process of recovering your creative self. The weekly tasks helped me tap into areas of my life that needed creative attention. It's the book that every life coach, therapist and creative has on their bookshelf.
It has cult status!
I love surrounding myself with things that evoke a sense of nostalgia; trinkets, memorabilia, photos, books, music - I'm a collector and a hoarder. But eventually, I got sick of tidying and packing a billion boxes every time I had to move from one rented flat or house share to another. Something had to give. Reading this book changed my life!
Marie Kondo is not about minimalism but about being selective and mindful. I magically managed to shift nearly 20 bin liners worth of items to charity shops, and still managed to keep hold of my most treasured books and trinkets.
Marie Kondo takes you through a simple process of categorising everything you own; from clothes, kitchenware to books and photographs. Items are categorised in order of sentimentality. Clearing clothes is far easier than clearing through photos and sentimental keepsakes, so those items are tackled last. As you clear through your belongings, you handle each object at a time and consider whether or not it brings you joy (no, I do not need15 miniature shampoo bottles, and a pair of sad-looking, hole-ridden socks does not inspire joy).
Anything that doesn't spark joy, you get rid of. It took time, but carefully selecting things that I truly loved resulted in being surrounded by things that mattered. By decluttering my home, I decluttered and made space in my mind.
Sometimes asking feels like the most challenging thing we can do as humans. Society has programmed us to compete rather than collaborate, compare ourselves to others, focus on our limitations rather than our achievements, and it can be a lonely road.
Rock star, crowdfunding pioneer, best-selling author and TED speaker Amanda Palmer, details her journey through life in a remarkable memoir about asking and giving, trust and connection.
We think we're alone. We're not.
Sometimes, all we need is life-affirming fiction, and The Midnight Library; a story about choice, regrets, embracing life and the infinite possibilities that lie ahead, is one of the most profound and beautiful books I have ever read.
"Nora's life has been going from bad to worse. Then at the stroke of midnight on her last day on earth, she finds herself transported to a library. There she is given a chance to undo her regrets and try out each of the other lives she might have lived. Which raises the ultimate question: with infinite choices, what is the best way to live?"
Matt Haig is an avid campaigner for mental health and one of my favourite people to follow on Instagram.
23 tips and techniques for getting closer to nature, and I have proudly tested them all! My favourite was waking up in time for the Dawn Chorus. Every Spring (usually around the beginning of May in the UK), just before sunrise, hundreds of birds sing and call to each other to defend their breeding territory and attract mates. At the time I was living in South London and ventured out to the woods in Tooting Bec Common. I packed a flask of coffee and took a mini stove to make breakfast. Eery dark silence soon erupted into a symphony of song. It's one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed.
"Rewild Yourself has a spiritual, crusading quality. Branes writes as an uncle would to his nieces or nephews, encouraging them to enjoy his love of the outdoors... There is something here for anyone who is captivated by nature and wants to get closer..."
Alastair Humphreys provides a perfect introduction to the world of accessible adventures! His newsletter contains little nuggets of wisdom and ideas that will get you outside and living adventurously in no time.
"As the world's population becomes increasingly urbanised, busy, and stuck in front of a screen, microadventures offer a realistic escape to wilderness, simplicity and the great outdoors, without the need to ski to the South Pole or go live in a cabin in Patagonia."
3. JOIN ADVENTURE COMMUNITIES
There are thousands of communities all over the world, making adventure accessible for millions of people. I've listed some UK based examples, but an internet search can direct you to similar groups in your area.
Following or being part of a community can be hugely transformative and inspiring. The first step is an easy one - check out their websites and follow them on social media.
THE YES TRIBE
Founded by adventurer Dave Cornthwaite, The Yes Tribe is a global community with regional tribes dedicated to creating events and spaces that bring people together to learn, encourage, share stories and find adventure in everyday life.
Being part of The Tribe encouraged me to take up new hobbies, such as cycling, bushcraft, foraging and hiking. I'm now working on a portfolio of careers (not just one), including expedition leading, bushcraft and survival skills, photography, writing and life coaching. I never considered adventure as being so accessible or life-changing!
Join the Yes Tribe on Facebook, where you can search for events and details of regional and global tribes near you. The Yes Tribe creates countless opportunities to meet outdoors and make real connections (for free, I hasten to add).
ALL THE ELEMENTS
There are some exciting shifts taking place in the adventure community around increasing diversity, improving access, and supporting underrepresented groups. All the Elements, founded by Soraya Abdel-Hadi (Lonely Planet Sustainable Storyteller 2021), is an organisation that supports small community projects working to increase diversity in the UK outdoors.
It's a fantastic platform that brings these communities together making them more accessible and visible to people who need them.
The resources and directory pages are brilliant! They cover a huge range of groups and areas, such as BAME, disability, gender and sexuality, people with limited financial means, mental health and young people.
Sometimes we can forget the barriers that hold us back and prevent us and others from living adventurously, and organisations like this are working hard to bridge those gaps and bring adventure to everyone.
LOVE HER WILD
Love Her Wild connects women locally (in the UK) and organises expeditions all over the world. The community is an excellent source of inspiration for female adventurers. If ever I need advice or inspiration about travel planning, conservation and sustainability, or anything adventure related, Bex, is my go-to person.
Explorers Connect is a Bristol-based not-for-profit organisation, dedicated to helping people live more adventurously. They offer micro-expeditions, treks, courses, talks and have an industry jobs board. They're a great option if you have some spare cash and want to take adventuring to the next level. You can book adventure courses or test your survival skills on tailor-made expeditions.
4. FOLLOW ADVENTURERS
Ordinary folk who achieved the extraordinary, whose motivation it is to bring people together in the outdoors, and encourage adventure in the everyday.
Founder of The Yes Tribe
Dave runs workshops and short courses in all things travel, expedition and adventure related. He also delivers inspirational talks, hosts the popular Yes Stories events and Yes Tribe festival and organises excursions down the Mississippi River.
Founder of Love Her Wild,
Check out Bex's 100+ Adventure Ideas, detailing hundreds of other inspiring adventurers.
English adventurer, author and motivational speaker
Over four years, Alastair bicycled 46,000 miles around the world. He was a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2012 and is responsible for the rise of the idea of the micro-adventure – short, local, accessible adventures.
UK Ambassador for Girl Guiding and the co-founder of Adventure Queens
Anna McNuff is just a ray of bloody sunshine!
A self-proclaimed 'mischief-maker', adventurer, motivational speaker, influencer and best-selling author rolled into one. She was named by Condé Nast Traveller as one of the 50 most influential travellers of our time and The Guardian as one of the top modern female adventurers.
For her latest challenge, Anna ran 2,352 miles barefoot across Britain. That's the equivalent of 90 marathons!
Explorer, Expedition Leader and Survival Guide
Chaz has walked the length of Africa's wildest rivers, raising awareness for local wildlife conservation. I first heard Chaz talk about his long-term project, 'The Wildest Journey,' at a Yes Tribe event. I've never heard anyone speak so candidly and calmly about survival. He's a delight to listen to, and his jaw-dropping tales of survival and escape will leave you hungry for more. If high-octane adventures and wild journeys are your thing, give Chaz a follow on Instagram and read more at The Wildest Journey.
Chaz runs training expeditions in the UK to equip people with essential survival skills, knowledge and confidence to embark on their own adventures. Skills covered include navigation, wild camping, shelter building, fire-making, cooking, environmental and cultural awareness, river crossings and escape!
He is currently based in his new, sustainable off-grid home, Wild Bear Croft & Eco Cabins, in the remote Scottish Highlands.
A note from me...
My adventures have temporarily brought me to New Zealand, where my husband and I have bought a bus that we're converting into a tiny home. I'm currently retraining as a life coach and transformation guide and working on this website intermittently.
With an expedition to Africa and India on hold and life effectively thrown into the air due to COVID, I'm playing catch up and replacing a lot of the old with some new.
Watch this space!
In the meantime, you can me follow on Facebook and Instagram: @ola.adventures and If you'd like advice on any of the countries I've visited or need help planning your adventures, please drop me a message. I'd be delighted to help x