Camping Gear

10 Tips For Getting Outside More

Posted On May 8, 2016 at 10:21 am by / Comments Off on 10 Tips For Getting Outside More

By Michael Lanza

Do you get outside, either locally or on longer trips away from home, as much as you’d like? 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 two or three weekend days at home, and I sometimes spend more days away from home than at home. I may be slightly manic.

Fortunately, my family joins me for many of those trips (and when I’m away without them, they’re happy to be relaxing at home with a break from me). This year will be the same, with several trips already done or on the calendar.

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.

 

Jasmine Wilhelm and my wife, Penny, backpacking on the Tonto East Trail, Grand Canyon.

Jasmine Wilhelm and my wife, Penny, backpacking on the Tonto Trail, Grand Canyon.

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 (lead photo at top of story) and Grand Canyon, 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 nearly 17,000 words and the list keeps getting longer, not shorter. I need to get busy. So do you.

 

My wife and daughter backpacking Zion's West Rim Trail.

My wife and daughter backpacking Zion’s West Rim Trail.

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.”

 

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.

The Big Outside is proud to partner with these sponsors and supporters of national parks. Please help support my blog by liking and following my sponsors on Facebook and other social media and telling them you appreciate their support for The Big Outside.

 

 

 

Jeff Wilhelm backpacking at Arrowhead Lake, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Jeff Wilhelm backpacking at Arrowhead Lake, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

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.

 

David Ports on Ryan Mountain in Joshua Tree National Park.

David Ports on Ryan Mountain in Joshua Tree National Park.

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 lives 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.

Do you like The Big Outside? I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by a USA Today Readers Choice poll and others. Subscribe for updates about new stories and free gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of this story, at the top of the left sidebar, or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

This blog and website is my full-time job and I rely on the support of readers. If you like what you see here, please help me continue producing The Big Outside by making a donation using the Support button at the top of the left sidebar or below. Thank you for your support.









 

Geoff Sears at Ponytail Falls in the Columbia Gorge, Oregon.

Geoff Sears at Ponytail Falls in the Columbia Gorge, Oregon.

No. 6 Get a Regular Partner

Self-motivating is hard. Find a partner for regular, local hikes, rides, or trail runs who’s compatible with your style and pace—besides pushing each other to work a little harder, you’ll push one another to stick to the commitment. (If you’re looking for families in your city that enjoy hiking, check out my story about the informal group Hike it Baby, which had branches in more than 90 U.S. and international cities as of this writing; you can even start your own local branch.)

 

No. 7 Schedule Your Weekly Outings

Don’t treat exercise and outdoor recreation as something you’ll get to at the end of the day or on the weekend if there’s time after everything else gets done—it doesn’t happen that way. Schedule your regular, local outings during the week, like short hikes or trail runs, just like you schedule work or personal appointments. Carve out time for it on your calendar and you will do it and turn it into part of your routine.

Exclusive for The Big Outside readers: Take 15% off any purchase at Outdoorplay.com using code Big15. Some restrictions apply.

 

The early-morning view from the top of the Eagle Peak Trail, Mount Rainier National Park.

The early-morning view from the top of the Eagle Peak Trail, Mount Rainier National Park.

No. 8 Get Up Early

Whether I’m itching to knock off a quick hike that my family’s not interested in at the end of a vacation, or I’m trying to squeeze in a trail run or ride on a weekend at home, getting up early, before them, and getting it done fast has long been a strategy that works for me. I’ve done some really nice hikes in national parks and other places, that I would not have otherwise fit in, just by getting out really early. It’s also a cooler, often lovely time of day, when you might get the bonus of seeing wildlife or enjoying beautiful morning light.

 

My kids atop Stack Rock in the Boise Foothills, Idaho.

My kids atop Stack Rock in the Boise Foothills, Idaho.

No. 9 Live Near Trails

Your ease of access to local trails and outdoor-recreation opportunities greatly affects how often you get outside. I’ve lived in rural areas where, ironically, I always had to drive to go hiking, trail running, or mountain biking. Now I live near the center of a city of over 200,000 people, but I can bike, run, or walk with minutes to access a trails network that spans over 130 miles throughout the Boise Foothills. If you don’t have trails or parks near you, be an advocate for them with your local government. While moving obviously isn’t an option for everyone, if you live inconveniently far from trails, bike paths, rivers, or other places where you enjoy outdoor recreation, maybe it’s just time to move closer.

 

 

Ouzel Lake, in Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Ouzel Lake, in Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park.

No. 10 Make a Deal With Your Spouse

My wife and I always gave each other the freedom to get out for daily exercise or occasional trips when our kids were little. Many parents find that’s a difficult stage in life, when you can easily fall off an exercise routine and not get outside much—and suddenly discover that five years have passed since you last got out on a real trip—unless you’re both willing to do these things separately, taking turns. There’s a side benefit in that each of you will have some nice, solo time with kids. If you don’t have children, you and your spouse may just not enjoy all the same activities or level of intensity. Give each other the space you each need to be happy.

See my All Trips page for menus of all of my stories about my outdoor adventures at The Big Outside and my related stories:

Boy Trip, Girl Trip: Why I Take Father-Son and Father-Daughter Adventures
10 Tips For Raising Outdoors-Loving Kids
10 Tips For Keeping Kids Happy and Safe Outdoors
5 Tricks For Getting Tired Kids Through a Hike
Are You Ready For That New Outdoors Adventure? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

This blog and website is my full-time job and I rely on the support of readers. If you like what you see here, please help me continue producing The Big Outside by making a donation using the Support button at the top of the left sidebar or below. Thank you for your support.









 

 

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