The emotional, physical, and mental well-being that comes from getting outside is pervasive and will positively impact all aspects of your life.
That being said, the modern world seems to not care if you leave the house or not.
Good news is, you don’t need a perfect trip, almost perfect will still get the job done. In fact, significantly less than perfect is still way better than nothing. Pay attention to these six hurdles that stand in the way of getting outside.
1. Missing the “Right” Gear
One of my biggest setbacks is that I’m always over packing, or think I need certain items to go to certain places. The longer the trip the more these things become problems. I’ll give myself little excuses, like I don’t have any charcoal… my pack isn’t big enough.. I need a different jacket…
Ironic how I always seem to have the exact right equipment to sink into the couch, though…
The fix? Having repetitive items handy.
For instance, having multiple clothing items just in case one is in the laundry. Or, keep a can of bug spray in every backpack and vehicle so you’re always ready to go.
Know that just because your gear doesn’t look like the professionals, doesn’t mean it doesn’t get the job done. Whatever you already own is good enough to get outside.
2. Striving For the Epic Experience
When I scour the internet for travel ideas, most posts involve some grandeur, far-away place. Even my own friends only seem to post the most epic experiences.
So then I’d ask myself- why bother? If I don’t have the social media-worthy, epic moment, why even leave the house?
The answer is a smaller trip, a go-to place to load up and go to on a Monday night.
When searching for go-to destinations I look for areas that offer multiple routes or a variety of landscapes. This allows each trip to be slightly unique, no matter the frequency of visits.
Finally, don’t always feel like you have to go for a long period of time. Whatever amount of time you have is exactly enough.
3. Waiting For the Weather To Cooperate
Most of the time, the weather sucks. I feel confident in saying that out of 365 days in [insert your town here] you will get no more than 5 to 10 days a season you can consider enjoyable. For Minnesota, a sunny, a 70 degree day with no humidity comes around about 3 times a summer.
The moral of the story is… even if the day isn’t perfect, go anyways.
Often the highest euphoria comes after adverse conditions: kayak in the rain and your dry clothes will feel better. Hike in the blistering heat and a jump into your local lake will feel like a million bucks. Snowshoe in a blizzard and afterwards you’ll experience the warmest shower of your life.
In short, the weather today is good enough for wherever you want to go.
4. Guilt Over Leaving Your Pet
Sometimes, you just have to leave your pet at home.
Sadly, if our dog, Luna, doesn’t fit in, we just load up and go without her. Due to regulations, she once spent the entire drive through Rocky Mountain National Park in the car. At every trail head, we would rush back to the car to check on her when we could have been hiking.
Still, one of the hardest things for us is when Luna sees us gear up and then leave her behind. (You would swear she thinks we are the most evil owners to ever rescue a four legged creature.)
Yet, some trips are only accessible to rational, language speaking life-forms that don’t become slightly insane at the sight of a squirrel.
So we make the decision to leave her behind. Upon return, we always expect her to sulk and avoid us, but she still seems happy and ready to join in the next activity.
Remember, if you don’t go because you feel guilty about not bringing a pet the result is the same… your pet still sits at home (and so do you).
5. Trying To Make Special Food
My mother seems to have a checklist of which snacks go with which events. I have fond memories of O-Ding on Special K Bars while sitting at State Park picnic tables or covering my hands in sticky s’more goodness around a campfire.
Later, as I sought to emulate the food bloggers with their hand-picked pictures I would try to match the perfect vegetable to a unique cut of meat.
We have a tendency in our culture to fix things with food. Think about it, breakup= ice cream… hangover=pizza.
Even the good events aren’t complete without the right dish or combination. Christmas= cookies, Labor Day=cooler of barley pop.
This need to prep the right food for the right occasion prevents me from actually getting to the occasion. Instead, keep food and snacks simple. There’s no need for an elaborate, gourmet meal when a sandwich would have sufficed. It’s also perfectly acceptable to bring a Tupperware of leftovers on a short hike.
The reality is that it’s OK for getting outside to be just that, getting outside.
6. Feeling Tired
It seems with the demands of modern jobs and life, I find myself extremely drained at the end of a work day. Although, I’m never that physically tired, but mentally tired instead.
The answer, again, is to keep it simple and revisit the same locations. If you don’t have to process as many details, it won’t seem like work to get there. Keep in mind, good locations create their own variety. For instance, a local river will be a different experience with fluctuating water levels. Grasslands also change throughout the year as different prairie plants bloom and die.
Keep a list of easy spots in your mind and let nature provide the variety; your body and brain will thank you.
Getting Outside Isn’t Always Perfect
At the end of the day, at Straight Up Outside we believe not every outdoor experience is an endurance run, not every recreational meal is gourmet, and not every picture makes the banner of this website. Yet, we always remember the old saying that the best geologists have seen a lot of rocks. And those rocks aren’t always laced with gold.
This just means that the best lifestyles are filled with a lot of experiences. Load up and go often enough and you just might find that your average experience becomes a little more perfect every time.
For a go-to place of ours, check out our post on Waterfowl Productions areas.
Written by Nick Schmitz, August 2020