It’s that time of year when even those of us with the strongest resolve to get outdoors and travel seriously debate hibernating with a bowl of popcorn and a Netflix marathon instead. Shorter days, finger-numbing mornings, and harsher winter environments make getting dressed and going on an adventure feel, well, like kind of a drag.
Still, every time I force myself to get out of the house and do something active outdoors, I feel better for it. I know not everyone has a big van and a SUP board (those were my greatest investments, by the way!), but as long as you have some warm clothes and a big imagination, you can channel your inner adventurer—no matter the weather. Here are a few tips on how I make it work, even when I don’t have the money for a big trip.
Scout out some new spots
Keep an eye out for local parks, campgrounds, lakes, bike trails and botanical gardens and keep a mental list of the locations you’ve passed a hundred times but never made a point to check out. Pretend you’re a tourist in your own town and browse Pinterest, Hipcamp.com, or local guide books for nearby natural (and free!) attractions and campsites—you may be surprised by what you find. Even if you live in high population area, your city is still a natural place, so start thinking of it that way. Rent a kayak on the Hudson River. Go mountain biking in Fairmount Park. Even the biggest cities have interesting outdoor spaces you can visit.
Gear up within your means
Adventure doesn’t have to cost a lot. You probably don’t need an Everest-grade snowsuit or a lifted Jeep to go camping (before I invested in my van, I used to explore in a beat-up Chrysler). A good pair of thick-soled boots and a backpack will get you really far. My advice for saving money is to shop yard sales, secondhand gear stores, or rent what you need from an online gear shop like GetOutfitted.com, which lends out everything from tents to GoPro cameras.
Pick up a new hobby
If you’re going to drag yourself out of the house and explore, you need something to get excited about, right? Pick up a new hobby in the long winter months and hone your skills so you’re ready for all your summer trips. I love working on photography in the cold because the light is tricky and there’s less natural color, so I’m forced to get creative. Another tip is to think outside of the box when it comes to “seasonal” activities. Sometimes I borrow a wetsuit and bring my paddleboard to a local lake in the winter—sure, it’s cold, but I get the whole place to myself. Snow golf? Sounds interesting to me!
Night time can be adventure time
Johnie is wearing the Lumberjill Shirt Windowpane
I work from eight in the morning to six at night, which means if I want to get outdoors during the week, it’s going to be in the dark. Invest in a headlamp and some reflective clothing, and you’ll add hours of adventure time to your day. Skip the gym a few nights a week and try going cross-country skiing or snowshoeing at night at a local park—it’s actually a ton of fun and you’ll work up a major sweat. Make sure to bring a buddy along or have your phone on you and practice safety and discretion when traveling at night.
Take a public transit road trip
If you live near a major city, you probably have a cheap, well-organized, and expansive public transportation system at the ready—why not use that for a road trip? Check out your city’s transit maps to see if there’s a train that extends out to nearby state park or beach—you can probably even take your bike with you. Bonus: you won’t have to sit in traffic for half the weekend!
Give yourself permission to slow down
Spring and summer are usually all hustle and bustle trying to get to the beach or the national parks. Why not savor the chance to slow down, stay closer to home, and find adventure in the little moments? Channeling your inner adventurer has nothing to do with booking airplane tickets or spending hundreds of dollars on a trip—it’s all about your attitude.