10 Tips For Getting Outside More
By Michael Lanza
Do you get outside as much as you’d like, both locally and on longer trips away from home? Who does? I do—almost. Sure, family and other responsibilities (like kids’ soccer games) prevent me from getting out as much as I’d like, but I do pretty well. Exhibit A: Most summers, I do not spend more than a handful of weekend days at home, and I sometimes spend more total summer days away from home than at home. I may be a little crazy, but fortunately, my family joins me for many of those trips (and when I’m away without them, they appear happy for the opportunity to relax at home with a break from me).
In this story, I share with you the tricks I’ve learned over the years, and that I keep following to satisfy my insatiable appetite for getting outdoors.
Granted, this is my work. But the point is not whether you’re getting out as much as someone else, or where you’re going—it’s whether you’re doing what’s necessary to ensure you get out as much as you’d like, or as close to that ideal as possible.
As my life grew more complicated and busy, one of the most important “outdoor” skills I acquired was figuring out how to get outdoors as much as I wanted. It’s a bit of a science and an art combined, but I think you’ll find that the following strategies are simple and can change your life for the better.
No. 1 Plan Trips Weeks or Months in Advance
When was the last time you had the freedom to take off on the spur of the moment? Probably years ago, right? Many people lack that flexibility, which means that your outdoor recreation, like your work, has to be scheduled in advance, or it doesn’t happen. Backpacking, camping, and other activities in many national parks, like Canyonlands and Grand Canyon (lead photo at top of story), can require making reservations months in advance. I usually have at least three trips in some planning stage; and by late April every year, I typically have much of my summer filled with trips long and short. For years, I’ve also maintained a list of trip ideas with some details or links to information; that document is now over 18,000 words and the list keeps getting longer, not shorter. I need to get busy. So do you.
Get a jump on your next adventure with my “10 Tips For Getting a Hard-to-Get National Park Backcountry Permit.”
No. 2 Involve Your Family
As a parent, the best way to get outdoors more is to get your kids involved at a very young age—carrying them on hikes and other activities before they’re walking, then letting them move under their own power as soon as they can walk. Since our kids were babies, we’ve taken them on adventures that were realistic for their ages and abilities.
I’ve also, for years, taken annual father-son and father-daughter trips, which my kids love and look forward to as much as I do. That delivers multiple benefits for me: creating additional opportunities for me to get outside; ingraining in our children a love for the outdoors that my wife and I have always shared; and, by getting my family out as much as they’re willing to go, they occasionally don’t mind if I take off for a long dayhike or a weekend of climbing or backpacking.
See my “10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids” and “10 Tips For Getting Your Teenager Outdoors With You,” and all of my stories about family adventures at The Big Outside.
No. 3 Get Organized
If the thought of packing up your gear for a weekend erects a mental hurdle to going, maybe you’ve created too much of a barrier for yourself. Get organized and efficient not just about packing for a trip, but also about storing gear after trips; having it ready to go helps you get out the door more quickly. Keep supplies like stove fuel and backpacking food on hand. That way, taking off for a night or two of camping or backpacking isn’t an ordeal.
You deserve good gear. See my lists of the “10 Best Packs For Backpacking” and “5 Best Backpacking Tents.”
No. 4 Be the Planner
Whether family or friends, just about everyone appreciates much of the trip planning being done for them. I look at my list of trip ideas and propose specific adventures to my family and friends. By repeatedly coming up with ideas for great trips and facilitating them, I’ve cultivated a stable of capable, fun friends to choose from, depending on the nature of the trip. While it requires some time from me, I enjoy thinking about new adventures. Plus, when you’re taking the lead planning role, other people are willing to have duties delegated to them.
I can help you plan the best backpacking, hiking, or family adventure of your life. Find out more here.
No. 5 Build Extra Time Into a Business Trip
Whether it’s a week or more, a weekend, a day, or even a morning or afternoon before catching a flight home, when traveling for work, schedule time to get outside. Before you depart on the trip, find out about the local recreation options where you’re headed—the choices may pleasantly surprise you. (My All Trips page is a good place to start.) On a visit to Joshua Tree National Park, I added two days to a business trip, and a good friend who lived in California was able to schedule a work trip to that area at the same time. We both got bonus days hiking and rock climbing without incurring more travel time or expense.
Click the page number button below to read tips no. 6 through 10 in this story.