Vacations both spring and summer are looming. The pressure’s on, the competition fierce.  (A European tour! A month in Hawaii!! Drop out and spend a year globe trotting!!!) Somehow today’s family vacations feel like it’s go big or stay home.

Or maybe not. Maybe it’s just jump in the car and go on a picnic. Or take a rambling Sunday drive with no timeline, sans GPS.

Microadventures have always been cool.

Microadventures have always been cool. Image credit: Cass Mob

My father was in the military and his tours of duty took our family to some pretty spectacular places—Monterey, the North Carolina coast, Hawaii, Scotland, Ireland. Seeing those places at an early age certainly broadened my world view. But tucked alongside those major treks are memories of adventures of the more everyday variety, no less treasured for their lesser effort. The impromptu Friday evening picnic with leftover fried chicken, a picnic table, a so-so location, super memorable. Or the days when the four of us got in the car on a Sunday afternoon and whiled away the afternoon winding along back country roads. We set off with no itinerary, no expectations but had lots of fun.

Little did I know then that we were doing more than just enjoying some unstructured, outdoor family time. We were embarking on #microadventures.

Microadventures earned their hastag from Alastair Humphreys. You know, the guy who bicycled around the world. Consider them Humphreys’s version of ‘downsizing’. Not so much row across the Atlantic and more swim down a river. “Microadventures are adventures that are close to home, cheap, simple, short, and yet very effective,” Humphrey outlines on his site. “A microadventure has the spirit (and therefore the benefits) of a big adventure. It’s just all condensed into a weekend away, or even a midweek escape from the office.”

Not sure where to start? Humphreys’s website is overflowing with ideas, and last year published Microadventures, a book that’s somehow an even richer resource than the site. Each microadventure is based on the simple premise of finding a hill and sleeping on it. (No tents, please; nothing to block our view to the stars.) Parents will be hard pressed to find any tailored for kids, or examples in the US. “I’m afraid I don’t have those versions yet,” Humphreys’s replied when we asked, “but there are many  ideas in the book that people can do anywhere in the world. I did that very deliberately.” There is a handy tip list for families (12 Tips for Microadventures with Children).

Short. Simple. Cheap. Very effective. In the continual race for more more more, microadventures feel like a real departure. You don’t need a passport. You don’t even have to have much of a plan. All you need need to pack is your sense of adventure.

Image credits: Featured image, map & book cover all courtesy Alastair Humphreys.