How to live an adventurous life: a 12-month experiment
It’s been a whole year now since I flipped my life upside down. In December 2015 I sold my house, left my job and went backpacking around the world (see more here). 12 months on I’m reflecting on the crazy journey, the highs, the lows, and what the future may hold.
Obviously this life change involved major upheaval – it was a big leap into the unknown. It was bloody expensive too. I burnt through the 10% equity freed up from the house sale, as well as other savings. So, in some ways, this year’s adventures were a one-off luxury, a once-in-a-lifetime experience (wow, that sounds cliched!). I was lucky enough to have the cash to make it all happen. But, financially, I couldn’t do it every year.
This has created a big problem though. The travel bug is still in my system – and now it’s stronger than ever. I want more adventure in my everyday life. I want to live the dream. I don’t want to get sucked back into the monotony of a boring nine to five grind. But how do I achieve it? How can I make this a reality, while also putting a roof over my head and food on my plate?
These are four steps I’ve taken to try and reach that goal:
How to live an adventurous life: moving to an adventurous place
My wife and I have moved into a small flat in Cockermouth, on the outskirts of the Lake District National Park. Stunning mountains, lakes and forests are all on our doorstep. This has been a great move in the right direction. It’s far easier to get a weekend or evening dose of outdoor adventure when so many opportunities are close by. No more four-hour+ drives to Lakeland from our old home in Birmingham, suffering mind-numbingly boring jams on the M6.
How to live an adventurous life: working part-time rather than full-time
How do you find the right balance between money and time? I’ve always struggled with this question. It’s a tricky nut to crack. Work full-time and you’ve got enough cash for travels and adventures. But your everyday world is stressful and boring and you don’t have much spare time. Work in a low-paid, part-time job and you’ve got time, but struggle for money. Blitz a full-time job for six months, save up and then ditch it to travel is an approach that could work, but then you’re stuck in cyclical world of boom and bust, and never setting down roots.
In the end I opted for part-time work, getting the best paid job I could for three days per week. Yes, I’ve taken a 40% cut in my wages. But the pay-off is I’ve got 40% more time to pursue my passions. I’ve managed to walk the Cumbria Way (more on that here) and go skiing in the Alps in my Fri-Mon breaks from work, without taking a single day of annual leave. It’s been awesome! And I’ve got even bigger plans for 2017.
How to live an adventurous life: simplifying my financial life
I’ve made a concerted effort to reduce my monthly outgoings, analysing what brings me happiness (and thus is worth spending more money on) and what doesn’t. The type of changes I’ve made include:
- renting a smaller, cheaper one-bedroom flat, rather than splashing out on a flasher (but unnecessary) pad
- not buying a TV licence (let alone the Sky TV package I used to fork out for)
- shopping in Aldi not Sainsbury’s (don’t judge me!)
- wild camping in a beautiful forest rather than staying in a posh B&B
- adopting a minimalist approach to possessions – I rarely ever buy CDs or clothes or souvenirs or any other crap that I just don’t need
This approach has helped me adapt to the wage decreases of working fewer hours and therefore helped free up time for outdoor adventures. I think my life is richer because of this strategy.
How to live an adventurous life: making money out of my passions
I’m a qualified journalist and I’ve begun to freelance for magazines, writing about things I care about and love – hiking, travel, outdoor adventures. It’s been a tough gig. Work has been hard to get at times and I haven’t made my fortune, that’s for sure. But it’s been great. I’ve been published in Adventure Travel, Outdoor Enthusiast and Lakeland Walker and I feel really proud to have got that far. Fingers crossed things will progress and grow in 2018 and maybe, just maybe, one day I might be able to make a living out of this work.